Saint Michael’s College adjuncts ratify first union contract

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Saint Michael’s College adjuncts ratify first union contract

Wed, 12/16/2015 - 4:28pm -- tim

Contract Includes 10%-15% Wage Increase, Professional Development Fund, Improved Job Security

Vermont Business Magazine Adjunct faculty at St Michael’s College voted to ratify their first collective bargaining agreement between their union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 200United, and the Saint Michael’s Administration. Over a year ago, adjuncts at Saint Michael’s - along with their colleagues at Burlington and Champlain Colleges - voted overwhelmingly to join SEIU in order to address the growing crisis in higher education, which includes decreasing faculty salaries and rapidly increasing student debt and tuition prices. Today’s ratification is the first collective bargaining agreement reached at a private college in the Burlington region.

“Both adjunct and administrative negotiating teams have worked long and hard to reach this agreement, and it is to everyone’s credit that we come out of this with dignity and good will intact.  We want to thank our fellow adjunct faculty for coming out to vote and supporting us this past year. We also want to thank students who held rallies, gathered signatures, and showed up during cold weather and during exams to show their support,” said Pat La Rose, adjunct faculty and negotiating team member.

In the contract, which expires in 2017, adjuncts secured a significant wage increase - 10% in the first year of the contract for all adjuncts teaching credit bearing courses and 15% for adjuncts teaching non-credit bearing courses. In July 2016, adjuncts will have the right to negotiate additional increases during the second year of the contract.

Adjuncts also secured a course cancellation fee of $1,000 for courses that are cancelled by the college without notice, a common occurrence at colleges and universities across the country which blindsides adjuncts and students alike who are expecting the class to be in session.

Moving forward, adjuncts will be more included in the campus community by having the ability to participate in St. Michael’s departmental meetings and events.  The contract also ensures academic freedom, professional development funding and reasonable job security.

“It’s been a rewarding experience working together with my adjunct colleagues and the St. Michael’s administration to secure improvements which will benefit adjuncts and students alike.  It is my hope that this contract will become the foundation for a bright future for all of us here at St. Michael’s” said adjunct faculty and negotiating team member Katie Powell.

Adjunct faculty at Burlington and Champlain Colleges continue to negotiate their first contracts with their respective administrations. Across the country, adjuncts have been organizing and winning their unions with SEIU in order to address the crisis in higher education. Earlier this month, adjuncts at the University of Chicago voted 4-to-1 to join SEIU. This summer, adjunct and contingent faculty at Siena College, in Loudonville, NY, voted 3-to-1 to join SEIU Local 200United, which now represents over 1,200 adjuncts at seven colleges in Vermont and Upstate NY.