SURVEY SAYS… Equal Pay for Equal Work
Anyone who has ever been treated unfairly by an employer has learned that if we stand alone, we are weak. But if we stand together in solidarity, “our union makes us strong.”
We saw the power of union solidarity with the November election win on ballot Question 2. A loss would have jump-started the privatization of public education by allowing a big expansion in the number of charter schools in the state. The odds against winning were overwhelming. In March the polls showed a big lead for the pro-charter side with over $24 million invested by mostly out-of-state billionaires. Our union, the MTA, couldn’t even begin to match the pro-charter money, but we had thousands of volunteers knocking on doors and making phone calls. As a result, by No- vember, the results had flipped, and our side, the pro-public schools side, won by 24 percent (62-38%), a smashing ballot victory that no one thought possible.
Union solidarity and member involvement in bargaining our DCE/Adjunct contract will be required if we are to achieve equal pay for equal work and other improvements in benefits and working conditions for our DCE/adjunct members.
One of the first steps in achieving solidarity is to share information so we can deal with misconceptions. The survey conducted by the DCE/Adjunct bargain – SURVEY SAYS… Equal Pay for Equal Work ing team will help us understand what adjuncts think about the issues.
Do adjuncts want equal pay? You bet they do. The survey showed that 92% of those members who teach only in the DCE/adjunct unit ranked per course pay equal to that of full-time faculty as important or very important.
Do adjuncts want full-time positions and job security? You bet they do. People sometimes say “many adjuncts don’t want full-time jobs.” The survey showed that 87% of adjuncts – almost seven out of eight adjuncts – think that when a full- time position becomes available, qualified adjuncts should get the first shot at it. After all, they’ve been doing the job.
In order to ensure priority hiring for adjuncts, almost 85% think that jobs should be posted internally before they are posted externally and that the pool of currently employed adjuncts should be exhausted before new adjuncts are hired.
There is also widespread support for other measures to provide job security: 76% think it’s important to get earlier notification of course offerings, and 72% think it’s important to have annual or multi-year contracts instead of single semester contracts.
Having a pension plan comparable to full-time members (prorated) was ranked by 82% as important or very important, and 71% ranked health insurance com-parable to full-time members (pro-rated) as important.
Other issues also garnered widespread support: 70% think office space is im- portant, 72% want to eliminate pro-rated pay based on class size, 73% want free tuition at state colleges and universities for employees and family members. It should come as no surprise to anyone that our employers will resist these demands by saying they are too expensive or too impractical. But our employers should be clear, our legislators should be clear, and our own members should be clear: these are issues with widespread support among adjuncts.
It should also come as no surprise that we will have another challenging fight on our hands. But if we maintain solidarity, we can make big gains. We will need solidarity among all our MCCC members: full-time and part-time/adjuncts. We will need solidarity and support from our MTA colleagues. We will need support from students through groups such as PHENOM…the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts. We will need support from our communities.
Our students deserve equality in instruction and support that can only be provided by a secure and stable work force.
Diana Yohe, MCCC President