Union Contract at George Washington University
George Washington University has ratified three contracts, the first in 2008, the second in 2010 and the third in 2012, and contingent faculty have seen significant gains in pay, job security, benefits, and representation over the past four years. Here are some of the highlights.
Pay and Professional Development:
- While amounts varied among individuals and across departments, in one department the minimum rate for a 3-credit course rose from $2700 to $3800 per semester – an increase of 40 percent.
- Since 2008, part-time faculty have won further rate increases amounting to 6 percent across the board; the second and third contracts each secured an across the board increase of 3 percent for all part-time faculty members. Currently, the minimum rate for a 3-credit course is $3,500 for lecturers without a terminal degree in their field.
- Part-time faculty were also able to secure a higher minimum rate for part-time faculty members with terminal degrees in the fields in which they teach – in their third contract the minimum rate for a 3-credit course is now $4,030 per course
- A Part-Time Faculty Professional Development Fund (PTFPDF) was created. Effective January 2013, part-time faculty members will be eligible to apply for funding for pre-approved professional development activities of up to $600 within the life of the contract.
Part-time faculty now can only be denied reappointment to courses they have taught before under limited, specified circumstances. These circumstances include elimination or down-sizing of departments, elimination of courses due to changes in curricular requirements, or demonstrated inferior job performance.
The first contract introduced a ‘just cause’ standard for discipline and dismissal. This means that GW must provide substantial evidence of wrongdoing to justify discipline or dismissal, and must not act in an arbitrary, capricious or illegal manner. Prior to the contract, a part-time faculty member could be dismissed for any or no reason whatsoever.
‘Binding arbitration’ applies to discipline and dismissal. This means that if the union or the faculty member believes that discipline or dismissal occurred without “just cause” a neutral third-party, such as an arbitrator from the American Arbitration Association, will make the final, binding decision.
Course Reduction Fee
- Prior to unionization there was no compensation for classes that were cancelled at the last minute, often creating hardship for GW part-time faculty. Currently, if a part-time faculty member’s class is cancelled after notification of re-appointment and less than 21 days before the first day of class (less than 10 days in the case of summer courses), that person receives 20% of the salary that they would otherwise have been paid for that class.
- Prior to unionization our colleagues at GW had no official platform from which to address their issues. The contract at GW sets up a joint Labor-Management committee where the parties work together to consider and make recommendations on matters of general importance to the part-time faculty. The third contract codifies the commitment to an ongoing collaborative approach to resolving issues of mutual interest, as well as differences, in a new preamble to the agreement.
- In the first contract, part-time faculty paid by the course at GW gained access to GW’s supplemental retirement plan, pre-tax SmartBenefits, and medical leaves of absence, as applicable under the Family Medical Leave Act.
- In the second contract part-time faculty members gained the same access to the pool and gym at GW as full-time faculty members.
- In fall 2012, the contract now mandates that part-time faculty have the right to reasonable access to computers, internet, photocopying and printers, as well as to well-maintained facilities.