NEW YORK -- The chair of the National Labor Relations Board gave a strong indication here Monday that, now that the board has new members appointed by President Obama, unions could expect it to back collective bargaining rights for graduate teaching assistants at private universities. Her remarks came as graduate students at the University of Chicago -- in what could be a test case -- are considering affiliation with national unions for an organizing drive.
The faculty union's contract with the City University of New York has a provision designed to prevent part-time instructors from being given a full-time teaching load. These adjuncts are allowed to teach only nine credits a semester at any one college in CUNY (typically three courses) and one other course at a second CUNY college. If a department head wants to offer an adjunct any additional work, say a section at a third college or a fourth section at the primary college, the union must approve a waiver. And until recently, the union has generally done so.
High-risk, high-reward policies heavily influenced by Wall Street helped some college endowments grow to several times their original sizes, but they also did damage to employees, local communities and the global financial system, a new assessment of investment practices at Harvard University and five other New England institutions suggests.
Instructors at the Art Institute of Seattle on Friday filed signatures with the National Labor Relations Board seeking a union election with the goal of affiliating with the American Federation of Teachers.
A steady stream of reports from faculty groups warns of the consequences of having too large a share of sections taught by adjuncts. Many of those reports also say that colleges take advantage of part-time instructors, failing to provide them with adequate salaries and benefits -- or with the prospect of full-time employment. Based on these ideas, the major faculty unions and also many disciplinary groups have called for colleges to hire more full-timers and have them teach more courses -- while also providing part-timers both with better compensation and with more respect.