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ACT-UAW – Part-Time Faculty Successor Contract Negotiations Update: Session 16

The university and ACT-UAW continued working through the complete package of proposals in good faith

Following a productive session on Monday, The New School and representatives of ACT-UAW, Local 7902, met again for another full day of bargaining on Thursday, October 20. With the entire package of proposals now presented by the university, this session focused on hearing some of the union’s counter proposals and seeking to find common ground as we progress towards a strong renewal agreement.

Over the course of the morning, the union presented written responses on 11 of the approximately 40 proposals presented by the university over the previous four sessions. A further seven responses were presented by the union verbally.

Following a caucus, the parties reconvened and the university communicated an offer to reach agreement on six articles. That is, the university offered agreement on part of the union’s proposal on Article 2 (bargaining unit information) if the union would agree to the university’s proposals on Articles 3 and 4 (union security and checkoff and v-cap checkoff, respectively).  The university also offered to provide the union with meeting space up to three times per year, and facilitate the union’s ability to share information with the bargaining unit by perm posting the union’s insignia and a link to the union’s webpage on the university Human Resources’ website, if the union would withdraw its proposal for the university to compensate part-time faculty $500,000 per year to perform union representational duties (an increase of $420,000 per year from the current contract language). This approach of bundling proposals is typically an effective and agreeable approach in bargaining when both parties desire to reach agreement more quickly. The union caucused to discuss the university’s bundle proposals, but adjourned the session about 40 minutes early without providing any response on the university’s bundle proposal. 

It was encouraging to find some common ground; for example, the union expressed that it is open to a 5-year term on this new agreement, which would facilitate a sense of long-term stability and security not just for part-time faculty but for our students and broader New School community.  

The union shared that it would present the remainder of its responses at our next bargaining sessions on October 25 and 27 – and we look forward to making further progress during these upcoming discussions.

As bargaining continues, it is important that we keep the New School community apprised of the developments at the bargaining table.  

Here’s what you should know about our initial offer to part-time faculty:

WAGES: We offered a 2% across the board increase upon ratification. For academic years 2023-2027, we proposed a new compensation model that establishes a standard teaching rate of $175 and fashioned wage increases so that those faculty with the lowest teaching rates below the standard teaching rate receive the largest percentage increases. Increases range from .75% raises for those with teaching rates above the standard teaching rate of $175, to anywhere from 1% to 5.4% for those with teaching rates that fall below the standard teaching rate.   

Faculty who teach in a studio setting have typically been paid less than those who teach in a lecture setting, which is true of full-time faculty and common across higher education. The university’s wage proposal specifically targets this concern.  

HEALTHCARE: Our proposal expands healthcare access and affordability by offering part-time faculty access to a new HDHP Value Plan that has lower benefit premium costs as of January 1, 2024. In addition, the university’s offer maintains part-time faculty’s existing benefits under their EPO plan, which keeps the premiums part-time faculty must pay under the plan consistent with their existing premiums under the current contract. We also proposed raising the threshold of eligibility for those working in Mannes, consistent with the union’s position that part-time faculty be treated similarly, and in line with the higher wage increases Mannes faculty would be in line to receive under the university’s wage proposal. We also signaled to the union with our proposal that the union’s willingness to allow the university to remain flexible with respect to their healthcare offerings could provide the university with greater flexibility in responding to other economic proposals on the table. 

SICK LEAVE AND PAID FAMILY LEAVE: The university’s sick leave proposal provides a streamlined benefit of one absence per course per semester sick leave entitlement, building on a sick leave concept already offered in the existing contract, and seeking to streamline the sick leave process after part-time faculty complained about issues tracking sick leave. It does not take away any sick leave benefits part-time faculty have already accrued under the existing contract, or prevent part-time faculty from obtaining the sick leave benefits they are entitled to receive under the law.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: The university has offered in concept to develop a professional development fund to support the development of our part-time faculty. Continued bargaining is necessary to finalize the details surrounding the fund

TUITION BENEFITS: The university offered to expand part-time faculty’s tuition benefit to allow a part-time faculty member or his/her/their dependent to take one course for every one course taught by the faculty member, subject to space availability. The tuition benefit may now be used up to three years after the faculty member teaches a course, provided the faculty member is scheduled to teach when the tuition benefit is utilized.

GRIEVANCE AND ARBITRATION: The university recently responded to a union proposal seeking to allow part-time faculty to file grievances through the CBA’s grievance and arbitration procedure related to claims of discrimination and harassment under the university’s Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, Prohibited Relationships, Title IX and Non-Title IX Sexual Harassment and Misconduct. The university has legal compliance obligations under Title IX Federal Guidelines, and various other federal, and state statutes to ensure that we protect the rights of all faculty, staff, and students, and to make our best effort to mitigate any campus community member from experiencing discrimination or harassment. Allowing part-time faculty members to grieve allegations of discrimination or harassment challenges our ability to protect the rights and experience of all campus community members while remaining compliant with our legal obligations. The university will consider any proposed alternative the union wishes to advance that strikes the appropriate balance between providing the university with the ability to maintain its legal compliance obligations while protecting the rights and experience of all campus community members involved in any harassment or discrimination investigation. To date, the union has not provided any such alternative.  

We will continue to share important facts about our proposals and updates on negotiations on our labor relations page so our community can stay informed along the way.

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