Colorado Community College Faculty Fight for Equity

In Colorado, somewhere between 70% and 80% of all community college faculty members teach part-time on term-to-term contracts.  Yesterday, July 27, following the AAUP’s successful 2015 Summer Institute in Denver, AAUP-CBC President Howard Bunsis and I traveled to nearby Louisville, Colorado, to join some of those community college faculty members at a mini-Institute (the “Mini-Innie”) sponsored, with the financial support of the Assembly of State Conferences, by the Colorado Conference of the AAUP and organized by Caprice Lawless, President of the AAUP Chapter at Front Range Community College.  It was a terrific event and my thanks to Caprice and her colleagues in the Conference, especially Suzanne Hudson and Don Eron, for their gracious hospitality.   Adjunct faculty from Front Range, Red Rocks, and Aurora Community College AAUP chapters attended along with Conference leaders.  The resulting discussions were both educational and inspiring.

Conditions for part-time faculty on contingent contracts in Colorado were recently highlighted in a segment of the television show Colorado State of Mind, broadcast on the Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting System (RMPBS).  It’s an informative piece well worth watching and features interviews with Suzanne and Caprice.  You can watch it here:

The RMPBS also ran an informative piece about the issue on its website in March.

The Colorado Conference has twice sponsored legislative initiatives that would guarantee salary equity in the state’s community colleges and AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum has gone to Colorado to testify in support of those bills.  The legislation’s sponsor, State Senator John Kefalas, is interviewed in the RMPBS video.  In the face of opposition from community college administrators the proposal has now died twice in committee. Interestingly enough, in obvious response to the AAUP’s agitation a task force convened by the Community College System devised a series of recommendations to improve adjuncts’ work conditions, including raising their pay 28 percent which was estimated to cost roughly $20 million.  However, in February, the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education, which oversees the system, agreed to implement almost every other recommendation, but did not approve the recommendation of increasing part-time pay, citing an allegedly difficult “current political environment.”

But the Conference is not giving up the fight.  They continue to highlight the multiple ways in which part-time “adjunct” faculty are exploited and abused, especially in community colleges, not least through promotion of The Adjunct Cookbook, which I have previously praised on this blog.

For more information on the Colorado Conference of the AAUP, visit their website.  For more information on the AAUP in the Colorado community colleges visit the conference’s community college page.  The national AAUP is proud to support our community college colleagues in Colorado in their fight for equity and in their defense of academic freedom and economic security for all who teach in higher education.


5 thoughts on “Colorado Community College Faculty Fight for Equity

  1. Good piece and very welcome news. It would have been nice if it had also included the fact that CO AFT and its president have been allies in this fight from the start. It does AAUP no credit to ignore it’s allies in this way and weakens the fight for the future. We need inter organizational solidarity and friendly credit giving. After all, especially for the contingent faculty movement, anyone’s victory is everyone’s victory.

    My greetings and congrats to Caprice, Don and Sue and all the rest in the struggle in CO.

    Joe Berry, AAUP Committee on Contingency, AFT 2121 at CCSF, and editor of COCAL UPDATES

  2. Joe Berry, who is a guiding force in the contingent activist movement, has been an invaluable supporter of all of our contingent faculty initiatives in Colorado. I hope that most readers of this blog agree with his comment about the necessity of standing in solidarity with other organizations, thanking our allies, and sharing credit (as, unfortunately, does not always occur with labor initiatives). As Joe notes, a victory for one is a victory for all, especially in the contingent faculty movement.

    While I agree with Joe in general, I respectfully quarrel with his sentiment in this instance. Co-AFT did indeed join our community college legislative initiatives in 2014 and 2015, and for that they deserve thanks–and we have thanked them profusely and publicly numerous times. But they had nothing to do with the “Mini-Innie” or the adjunct cookbook or the other Colorado AAUP initiatives that are the main focus of Hank’s post. I don’t believe that Hank should be obliged to thank the AFT every time he mentions the AAUP Colorado Conference–nor can I imagine that our good friends in Co-AFT would expect him to.

    Don Eron, Executive Committee, AAUP Colorado Conference

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