Front Page News

Part-timers seek more respect

By Daniel Montaño, Senior Reporter
Better pay and more job security — part-time instructors reported they want both in a recent poll conducted by CNM’s employee union leading up to annual contract negotiations, Seamus O’Sullivan, part-time political science and sociology instructor, said.
Nariman Arfai, part-time psychology instructor and head of the part-time CNM educator union, and his team will be looking to change that this year, he said during an interview on Oct. 3.
For the union, the part-timer negotiations, which began on Oct. 10, will center on compensation, job security and improving working conditions for part-time instructors, also called adjunct faculty, who teach 63 percent of all classes at CNM, Arfai said.
“Adjunct means supplementary. How can you teach 63 percent of all the courses and be called supplementary?” he said.
O’Sullivan said there are 753 part-time instructors and 302 full-time instructors teaching at CNM this semester.
Brad Moore, director of marketing and communication, was not able to answer specific questions regarding CNM policies for part-time faculty members’ pay-scale, course selection process, or contract eligibility, because of confidentiality issues, he said.
“CNM and the faculty union are currently in collective bargaining negotiations for a new contract.
To uphold the confidentiality and of the negotiation process, the rules of which have been contractually agreed upon by CNM and the union, CNM will not discuss issues that could be a part of the collective bargaining process,” Moore said in an official statement.
At the time of this publication, Tom Manning, labor relations officer, who was asked to comment, did not responded to several interview requests, which were initially sent prior to when negotiations began.
Most part-timers at CNM have a master’s degree, and a large portion hold a doctoral degree, yet if these academics teach 10 classes in a year, they will earn about $27,000 before taxes or about $20,000 after taxes, Arfai said.
In comparison, according to the United States Department of Labor, tree-trimmers and receptionists earn an average of more than $33,000 a year before taxes — and neither job necessarily requires a high-school diploma.
“It’s impossible to support a family with this salary and in this economy,” Arfai said.
College administrators, however, have seen a steady increase in pay over the last 15 years, according to insidehighered.com.
The Chronicle previously reported that Kathie Winograd, CNM president, received a 22 percent raise last November, which was approved by the schools governing board and amounted to an extra $48,000 a year, bringing her annual salary to more than $260,000.
CNM’s administration set aside state funds to offer a 2 percent raise for part-timers this year, which amounts to an extra $56 per class taught, but the union will be looking for far more than that, O’Sullivan said.
Andy Tibble, full-time instructor and President of CNM’s employee union, under whose umbrella the part-timers union falls, said in an Oct. 1 interview that while part-timer’s may say they are not being paid enough, CNM does pay better than other institutions in the area.
For example, New Mexico Highlands University pays part-timers $800 per credit hour taught, which works out to about $24,000 before taxes a year, to teach “overload courses,” according to the public bargaining agreement held between NMHU and their faculty union.
“So, while we would complain that all part-time faculty are underpaid, we can’t complain that CNM pays less than other institutions,” Tibble said.
O’Sullivan agrees that CNM is not the only school underpaying their part-time faculty, but does not believe that just because it is a common practice CNM is excused in underpaying anyone, he said.
“I’m frankly very tired of hearing that as an excuse. ‘Well, everybody’s doing it.’ That doesn’t make it right, doesn’t make it fair, doesn’t make it moral and you’re exploiting your workforce.” O’Sullivan said.
Tibble stressed that CNM does at least offer benefits to part-time instructors who teach more than eight contract hours per week, a practice that is not common among higher education institutions, he said.
“You know that’s pretty big, because it’s actually more generous than, say, the affordable care act requires. That’s just not available at a lot of other institutions. I don’t even believe that UNM offers that,” Tibble said.
For O’Sullivan though, the problem is the administration’s lack of appreciation for its largest teacher workforce, he said.
He thinks the lack of respect begins with the fact that Colleges and Universities nationwide are moving toward a business model to run their schools — the Wal-Mart mentality of seeking profits, in part, by disregarding employees, he said.
O’ Sullivan thinks administrators in those schools look at their workforce as numbers, not people, and search for ways to deliver their “educational product” cheaper, he said.
“I think in most cases for the levels at the top, it’s just economics. It’s got nothing to do with anything else, it’s just economics,” O’Sullivan said.
Andy Russell, full-time history instructor, was once a part-time instructor, and thinks that one of the major benefits of being a full-timer is the job security that comes with it, he said.
Part-timers are contracted to teach on a semester-to-semester basis, and receive no guarantee that they will be given any classes once the semester runs out, Russell said.
“There’s nothing that guarantees your right to classes the next semester, and they don’t have to give any explanation, as far as I know, to why you won’t be teaching,” Russell said.
Part-timers are assigned the courses they will teach by administrators, usually the deans of the school, Russell said.
While part-time instructors’ requests for where and what they would like to teach are taken into consideration, classes are assigned based on CNM’s needs — not the instructors, Russell said.
Because of this, part-timers do not know how many classes they might be teaching from one semester to the next, and sometimes may even receive fewer classes if they are on the wrong end of office politics, Russell said.
“There seems to be some indication that personality issues occasionally enter into things,” Russell said.
O’Sullivan said there is a core of part-time instructors who sometimes teach five or more classes per semester — more than is required of full-time instructors — and have done so for years.
A two-term, full-time faculty member makes about $44,000 a year teaching 10 classes, and the part-timers who take on the same load deserve recognition from administration for their service, O’Sullivan said.
“I guarantee you they’re not here for the money, they’re here because they love doing what they’re doing,” O’Sullivan said.
Arfai said these core part-timers take on the extra workload despite the fact that they do not get paid the same as full-timers, because they truly care for CNM students.
“Deep in their heart part-timers really have a good soul, they don’t want to let CNM students down,” he said.
Higher education is adopting a business model and it seems that part-timers’ contributions are being left by the wayside in favor of profits, Arfai said.
But these teachers do not plan on putting down the chalk any time soon — for them teaching is a reward unto itself, Arfai said.
“Some of them come from CNM or other community colleges. They’re paying back their community with their altruistic, pro-social behavior,” he said.

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