BY MARTIN KICH
Our AAUP chapter at Adelphi University has a long history. The faculty unionized in 1973 and negotiated their first contract in 1974. They have successfully negotiated contracts ever since. That is not to suggest that some of the negotiations have not been contentious, but the faculty at Adelphi does have a history of taking and maintaining strong positions on institutional issues that have ultimately proven to be very important to the university’s survival. Most notably, the faculty came together in the 1990’s to oust the then President and Board of Trustees for corruption, and it is no overstatement to state that the faculty saved the university.
Various faculty at Adelphi have contacted me about issues with the university’s new president, Christine Riordan, and those issues seem to have come to a head in the negotiations over a new contract. What follows is what I have gleaned from multiple sources, and the AAUP’s negotiating team does not think that any of it is substantively inaccurate.
Riordan initiated her presidency with a “listening tour” and frequently speaks of transparency, but her actions do not seem to match her rhetoric. For example, even on something as straightforward as exactly how much she is being paid, she has refused to reveal even her base salary, never mind her total taxable compensation.
At the beginning of the contract negotiations, the Riordan administration hired an attorney from the anti-union law firm of Proskauer Rose to negotiate the contract. That attorney has been engaging in all sorts of distracting and unfair tactics, which have included presenting untracked proposals, making changes to articles on which agreement has supposedly already been reached, slowing down negotiations by presenting proposals only across the table.
Beyond those sorts of tactics that have created significant mistrust, their actual proposals have been very problematic, if not insulting:
1. The administration has proposed salary increases of 0.5, 0.75, 1.0% over the next 3 years. In the first year of the contract, the total cost to the university for the salary increase for the 331 full time faculty would be $177,000. In addition they are offering an additional $500 to each full time faculty member if enrollment reaches historic highs each year.
2. On the faculty medical coverage, they have proposed significant cost shifting across the board:
–co-insurance (which is entirely new) for both in-hospital and outpatient procedures;
–deductibles in all the plans;
–and increases in maximum out-of-pocket expenses in all the plans.
In sum, faculty will pay significantly more, and the university will pay significantly less. But adding insult to injury is the lack of any guarantee on premium increases, and in 2016, the increase in the premiums paid by faculty was 16.3%.
The net effect of the salary proposal alone will mean a loss to faculty given the cost of living predictions for Long Island. With the health insurance changes taken into account, faculty will be taking a very significant hit on their net income.
Beyond the proposals on compensation and benefits, the administration has proposed that faculty be required to be on campus for four eight-hour days/week–even if they are teaching at off campus sites or on line. Under the current contract, faculty are expected to be on campus three days/week unless the faculty were teaching at other sites or online.
The administration has also proposed an increase in the number of non-tenure track lines from 15% of the full-time faculty to 25%, with no agreement to decrease the number of adjunct faculty. Currently, adjunct faculty teach approximately 58% of the courses at Adelphi.
Indeed, the administration has proposed a decrease in job protection for the adjunct faculty: current contract language provides adjunct faculty with some protections for continued employment, but the administration has proposed the elimination of all of those protections.
Most egregiously, the administration has proposed changing the Academic Freedom language in the contract (which is currently the language in the AAUP Redbook) in order to impose new limits on the faculty’s academic freedom.
The administration’s proposals include new restrictions on other faculty protections, including the rights to file grievances and to seek arbitration.
Lastly, in a gesture that is clearly much more symbolic than financial, the Riordan administration wishes to take away the on-campus office that the AAUP has had since 1974 when the first contract was signed and to force the chapter to find an off-campus office.
If you wish to express your support for and your solidarity with our chapter at Adelphi University, you can do so by posting a comment on this post or on the chapter’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AdelphiAAUP/.
Christine Riordan, President, Adelphi University
First Contract at Adelphi University, 1974