NEA Affiliates in Action
Adjunct faculty at Joliet Junior College in Illinois voted in April to join the Joliet United Adjuncts Coalition, IEA-NEA. The new union represents more than 400 part-time faculty at the college. The election victory capped off a year’s worth of organizing by Joliet adjuncts who were also leaders or members in other IEA adjunct locals like College of DuPage and the Chicago City Colleges.
Joliet adjunct organizers persuaded their colleagues that they needed to fight for the kinds of benefits—salary increases, sick days, class cancellation pay, third-party grievance arbitration—adjuncts enjoyed at other IEA/NEA represented campuses.
Currently, IEA/NEA represents adjunct faculty at all seven schools of the City Colleges of Chicago, the College of DuPage, Waubonsee Community College, Prairie State, McHenry County, Triton, Harper, Oakton and John A. Logan. IEA/NEA also represents adjunct faculty at Columbia College, Roosevelt University, Illinois State University, and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and at Edwardsville.
The Mid Plains Education Association (MPEA), representing the academic faculty at Mid-Plains Community College in McCook and North Platte, Nebraska, has petitioned the Nebraska Commission on Industrial Relations seeking federal mediation, after negotiations with the college over faculty intellectual property ownership rights—covering class materials, online and distance learning classes, creative work, patents, and other products of faculty work—failed to produce an agreement.
The union and administration agreed in a memorandum of understanding during their 2007—09 contract negotiations—also conducted with the help of a federal mediator—that they would form a committee to propose intellectual property rights language to the college’s Board of Governors or as amendments to the collective bargaining agreements for both academic and vocational faculty. But, the MPEA says, the administration came to the table without authority to negotiate. Mediation will take place in August.
Contingent faculty might want to mark their calendars for Aug. 8-10, 2008 when the COCAL VIII International Conference will convene in San Diego.
COCAL, or the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor advocates for non-tenured and non-tenure track faculty in community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Past COCAL conferences have been held in San Jose, Montreal, Chicago and Vancouver.
This year’s conference, on the campus of San Diego State University, will feature a variety of workshops and discussion panels on working conditions for non-tenured and non-tenure track faculty.
NEA—along with the California Community College Association, the California Faculty Association, and a host of other higher education groups—is a major supporter of the event and NEA members are encouraged to participate. NEA President Reg Weaver will be the featured guest speaker at the Friday evening dinner.
Check the COCAL Website for registration information.
Two Southern Illinois University-Carbondale professors, Marvin Zeman, a math professor and president of the SIUC Faculty Association IEA/NEA, and Walter Wallis, also an SIUC math professor, have won their battle with an Illinois agency that reprimanded them for taking a state-mandated ethics test too quickly in 2006. The out-of-court settlement states that the professors didn’t break the law.
The professors had been accused of violating the state ethics law when they breezed through the online ethics course and 10-question test in less than 10 minutes. The Illinois Inspector General’s office said they couldn’t have possibly read everything they were required to read in 10 minutes. The IG also reprimanded 253 other employees of the university for the same reason.
The agreement came after the professors filed a suit against the Inspector General and the ethics commission.
“The issue for us was that they’re not supposed to create these unspecified, ex post facto rules to find people out of compliance,” Zeman said.