By Wendy Rolfe, Vice-President, Part Time Faculty
The increase in the ratio of Part-Time to Full-Time Faculty (or, the decrease in % of Full-Time!) is a matter of great concern to the Union, and we will need your support as we continue to work to address this.
The ratio of FT to PT has steadily decreased - for instance:
2006: FT 55% PT 45 %,
Fall 2014: FT 40% PT 60%.
Fall 2016: FT 39.6% (255) PT 60.4% (389)
The Berklee Faculty Union has worked hard at every contract bargain to both secure more conversions from PT to FT, and to improve the contract for the former (and the latter!). We all know that it is possible for FT faculty to spend more time with students, and on campus doing service projects than can PTers. Indeed, the decreasing ratio of FT faculty means that department service projects are being loaded onto fewer and fewer people, even as the numbers of students increase. Not good for anyone!
There are some excellent articles (like this one from the Atlantic) about the importance of having a higher ratio of FT faculty, and the working conditions of so many adjunct, or PT, faculty across the nation.
In December 2014, BAFT Officers met with the Berklee Board of Trustees, and Administration. One of our primary aims was to focus on the importance of converting more PT faculty to FT status. The Board was interested, and seemed concerned. Since then, the situation has not improved: the PT/FT ratio has gotten worse, and the college is undertaking an expensive merger without addressing this important issue.
As another example, in the 2013 Contract Bargain, our BAFT team proposed a different way of calculating eligibility for 3-year contracts.
Currently required: 27 units/weekly contact hours per year (or an average of 13.5/week per term)
We proposed: 81 contact hours over three years (3X27=81)
This would address the fluctuation in faculty hours that sometimes occurs due to students’ not returning, the college population decreasing, students’ schedules suddenly changing, and more. It is my hunch that Performance Division Faculty are especially vulnerable, due to teaching Private Instruction, Ensembles, and Labs.
The 2013 negotiating team emphasized that PT faculty would feel less stressed if they (we!) knew that we were less likely to lose health benefits, and income resulting from a one-time drop in hours in one semester. The proposed 81 hour formula would be one way to address this.
The BAFT team was given this message to send to vulnerable PT faculty who are concerned about losing hours and benefits: “Tell them to get over it.”
We will need the support of ALL faculty in the next contract negotiation in order to improve working conditions for both PT and FT faculty.