Recognized by NEA for membership gain
A little over a year ago, about 30 part-time faculty belonged to the Solano College CTA Chapter. Fast forward to today and there are some 188 part-time faculty in the association, an influx that contributed to the chapter winning an award for its increase in membership at the annual meeting of the National Education Association this summer.
But that only begins to tell the story about the gains by part-time faculty at the Northern California college in Fairfield. Through active organizing, meetings and one-on-one conversations, part timers won rehire rights, increased paid office hours and more representation on the chapter’s executive board. And now, they have an “Adjunct Support Center” in the campus library where they can gather for meetings or just take care of business before their classes. They are also acquiring union- and college-supported professional development workshops in such topics as how to do SLOs (student learning outcomes).
With these successes under their belts, the adjunct faculty hope to step up their activity. Next up for the adjuncts is obtaining health care coverage, which is included in the contract but has never been implemented. The part-time instructors’ alliance plans to work with the faculty association for that right.
“Since adjuncts are here for so many different reasons and we have so many different priorities and backgrounds, we wanted to find out what their concerns were. We wanted to figure out what is most important to adjuncts. All of us contribute to student success. If adjuncts are getting what they need, it will benefit the college,” said Rachel Aptekar, a biology instructor who has taught at the college for seven years.
Like other part-time faculty, Aptekar has run into difficulties trying to obtain classes from semester to semester. Full-time faculty are able to bump part-time faculty, or part-time faculty will often be called in at the last minute, which makes planning difficult. “We’re cheap and convenient because the college can cut our class, or reassign it to full time faculty whose class has been cut, through the first week of classes,” she said.
Others echoed those sentiments.
“I never was 100 percent confident whether I was going to have enough money to support my family each semester because getting a class was so arbitrary,” said Pam Muick, also a biology instructor. “Hopefully, adjuncts will have more stability in our lives from now on.”
For more news and information regarding part-time faculty, check out the part-time faculty issues section on the CCA website, at www.cca4me.org.