Today AAFMCC is at the Bargaining Table for Mediation Session #2.
We'll be sharing bargaining updates at several membership meetings during the first week of March. Details coming soon.
I often ask myself why I continue to teach at MCC. It’s not because of the pay. It’s not because of the lack of benefits. It’s not because of the disrespect I am shown. It’s not because there is no career path. It’s not because we get one day of paid time off per course. It’s not because the administration sees us just as warm bodies to teach their classes. The reason I teach is to improve the lives of students and to prepare them for a successful future.
But to be honest, I can fulfill this purpose at other community colleges and get paid more. It’s an hour and a half drive to Lansing Community College, but I would make almost $140 per credit hour more. Mott Community College is just over an hour drive, but I would make over $250 per credit hour more. Saint Clair Community College is under an hour drive, and starting in 2020, their adjunct instructors will be making $1000 per credit hour compared to the $870 that Macomb is offering us at the end of three years. Why would I or any other adjunct stay here? Why would an adjunct want to apply to teach here when they could make more at several other local Michigan community colleges? The college is losing its competitiveness to attract excellent professors to instruct their students. Eventually, students will realize they can go to another community college and receive a better education from a professor that MCC lost because of its low pay. Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side.
Macomb Community College has a choice to make: They can pay their adjuncts a comparable wage and retain and hire excellent adjuncts, or they can continue with their current offer, watch adjuncts leave, and find that they can no longer hire and retain the best professors. Macomb says that they are committed to their students and faculty, but by paying their adjuncts far below the wages adjuncts earn at comparable colleges, they are certainly not acting on that commitment.
I come from a union family: My father and grandfather have negotiated contracts, and I can see what the college is trying to do. To me, when Macomb constantly claims that they have made their last best offer, they are bargaining in bad faith. That the college is trying to rush these negotiations is just another sign that the college does not respect its adjuncts.
This is unacceptable, and MCC adjuncts deserve far better.
MCC students deserve better, too.
Our only option is to fight to get a better contract.
Contract negotiations resumed on Wednesday, January 9, as AAFMCC met with the state-appointed mediator for the first time. During the session, which lasted from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., the mediator spent time individually consulting with AAFMCC and The College in order to learn about what has ensued at the bargaining table at the last few sessions and better understand the issues that have not yet resolved.
The Good News
It’s looking like The College is willing to grant AAFMCC our request for campus-wide seniority for online teaching. We did not thoroughly discuss the details or contract language that will reflect this change, but we hope to do so during our upcoming sessions.
The Bad News
The College is still unwilling to accept our requests for increased PTO and our proposal for course cancellation stipends (or our alternative Section 4 proposals for improving assignment and reassignment procedures).
The College is also maintaining its latest salary proposal, which is hardly competitive with current adjunct compensation at comparable community colleges (see November 30 blog post for more information about The College’s salary proposal).
Based on our interactions with The College at the first mediation session, AAFMCC is worried that that The College is using mediation as a tactic to make AAFMCC settle for what The College has offered us us.
Although it is the mediator’s goal to work with each party to persuade them to resolve their differences and enter into a mutually acceptable agreement, a mediator’s recommendations are non-binding, and ultimately, a mediator has no authority to compel a settlement.
If we are unable to solve our issues during mediation, the next step in the process is fact finding: a formal procedure where a state-appointed fact finder will conduct a hearing relating to all of the facts in dispute. According to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC), “the value of fact finding is that after a formal hearing, the parties receive an objective and professional evaluation of their bargaining positions.” Much like during mediation, the fact finder’s report is not binding, and the parties may accept the recommendations in whole or in part.
If a fact-finding hearing doesn’t facilitate an agreement between both parties, then the final step is arbitration. As published by MERC, “The majority decision of the arbitration panel is binding on the parties and enforceable in circuit court, if the conclusions are supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence on the overall record.”
This means that AAFMCC could spend several more months attempting to pass our proposals and several more months working without a contract or a raise without any guarantee that the arbitration panel will side in our favor.
Mediation and fact finding are both lengthy processes that must occur before arbitration. Ideally, mediation would facilitate the necessary collaboration and communication to settle our disputes, but since The College has indicated that they do not intend to move on the unresolved issues or increase their compensation package, it appears that The College is just going through the motions to either “starve us out” or push the process forward to arbitration in hopes that the arbitration panel will make a final decision that is favorable to The College.
MCC adjuncts deserve more than what The College is offering us. MCC needs to make it a financial priority to compensate adjuncts competitive wages that reflect the quality instruction that we provide to students.
AAFMCC is dedicated to upholding our mission:
The AAFMCC Bargaining Team needs to keep fighting.
AAFMCC members need to keep fighting, too.
We are crucial to this institution, and we can not settle for wages and working conditions that minimize our value!
We are the 76%, and we deserve better!
Our second mediation session is scheduled for February 14. Stay tuned for future updates.
Adjuncts At Risk
20 years at MCC
One of our long time good teachers of many years was threatened by a student this semester. He reported it to the AD who refused to remove the student from the class. The teacher confided with me that stated he feels his life was is at risk every day. So he stated this will be his last class ever. I personally know that he is a very good and caring teacher from my personal experience with him over many years.
Another one of our teachers had a serious issue with a student and the AD refused to do anything
Another long time teacher had some kind of an issue (unknown to me) but the AD refused to do anything. He was told by this ad that he was too old to teach (not true as he is presently teaching and is in fact doing a good job and there is no senility or other physical issue) so he took it to the ACLU who has taken it on. This issue is now pending.
At the start of the semester last year, I was assigned a newly redone classroom. This room was the first classroom just inside an entrance which has no video surveillance and is always open during school hours. My room is six inches away from this entrance. I recently took our public safety class on active shooter preparedness and was informed that, whenever possible, the students in my classes should be out of sight of the potential shooter.
My new classroom door has a good lock but also has a small window through which any potential active shooter can see the entire class including the teacher. I went to public safety and inquired if it would be okay if I put a piece of paper over the window from the inside to prevent any potential active shooter from seeing everyone as the window has no shade. I was told that they had no objection and thought it in fact was a good idea. I also asked a public safety officer the same question and he told me that it was a good idea and that as far as he knew that it had always been up to the teacher to cover a classroom door window which in the past had been done to remove distractions but that it would be a good idea for safety especially in the light that we have had three recent active shooter alerts. Also note that I am a former public safety person. I later placed a small piece of dark paper over the inside of the little door window. Four other teachers also covered their windows.
Three days later, all of those safety paper covers were torn out, and I was summoned to what appeared to me to be a firing hearing at the main office of HR. I, of course, called in our union representative for protection. I was grilled for a long time by several administrators in a hostile manner which felt like an interrogation. They demanded “What are you trying to hide? Why did you cover your window?” I stated that that one cent’s worth of paper makes my room very secure because we would be out of sight, and I could lock the door and an active shooter is not going to shoot through a door if he can’t see anyone inside or break his shoulder trying to break in. He would just go somewhere else. This would make my students much safer. But if a shooter could see us, he could shoot us. I answered that I would be doing absolutely nothing different whether or not the window was covered or not.
They grilled me on my attitude towards school safety. I told them I was a former public safety person, a scoutmaster, and former military and that being prepared for the rare possibility of an active shooter and concern for the safety of my students was my only concern. I advised them that I had attended the police safety training and that both the police and the big posters in every classroom emphasized that students should be out of sight. We need to take a proactive approach to our students’ safety. And I told them I had inquired and asked permission in advance and it was approved by public safety. I also pointed out that we had no shade on the window and we could not put a table in front of the door to block the view as we had a lab room and the tables had big cables attached so the piece of paper over the door was the best and very inexpensive option. I also reminded them that we had recently had 3 active shooter alerts and that one was outside of my then classroom.
To add to insult, Macomb never told me the outcome of this interrogation (now over a year later), but I continue to be one of the finest teachers here at Macomb, well liked by students and fellow teachers, and had been previously been given a distinguished service award for my 20 years of service.
NOTE: The following submission is a speech that an AAFMCC member presented at the October Board of Trustees' meeting. It also contains a brief account of her actions that followed her address to The Board.
AMENDED ADDRESS OF DR. SUSAN KIRWAN, ANTHROPOLOGIST, TO MACOMB COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES, MONDAY 10/22/2018
6:00 PM (DAY LIGHT SAVINGS TIME)
My name is Dr. Susan Kirwan. I have taught Anthropology at Macomb Community College for 9 years in January.
I am very good at teaching. When I said good-bye to my class at the end of winter semester 2018, my students gave me a standing ovation and presented me with a bouquet of a dozen, long-stemmed red roses.
If my students were paying me, I would receive economic justice. But my students are not paying me. Trustees and their administrators are paying me, and for that reason, I wish to remind the Board of Trustees and administrators in regard to a few things:
(1) Faculty and students do not exist to serve the Board of Trustees and their administrators. The Board of Trustees and its administrators exist to serve scholars (specifically adjunct faculty) and their students.
(2) Without faculty and students, there would be no college, and administrators would become the unemployed.
(3) Every employee in the private sector (even McDonald’s employees) receives compensation for every minute spent working. I too deserve compensation for every minute I work outside of the classroom, and most of my work is done outside of the classroom. Thus, I accuse the Board of Trustees and their administrators of running academic sweat-shops that exploit adjunct faculty mercilessly without pay.
(4) To illustrate the extent of my unpaid work, I submit a partial log of unpaid labor which will speak for itself.
I then left the podium to hand out a copy of log of unpaid hours to each Board Member.
I immediately left the lecture hall.
This legislation serves only one purpose: undermining the ability of the union to defend our freedoms and the contract.
A recertification election every two years would be disruptive to the workplace.
Union members already regularly vote on who represents them and the terms of their contracts, making this legislation completely unnecessary.
Ask your Legislator to stop attacking teachers, school employees, and other public employees.
Click Here to send a letter to your Legislator.
Help AAFMCC raise awareness this holiday season!
At the Board of Trustees’ Meeting on December 19th, AAFMCC will be sharing some holiday cheer with President Sawyer when we deliver a bundle of holiday cards containing a holiday wish list from MCC adjuncts.
Please send your five-item holiday wish list to AAFMCC organizer Nicholas Zastrow at email@example.com.
Deadline: Monday, December 17
In your email, please include the following information:
If you have questions or concerns, please contact Nicholas Zastrow at firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-655-4815.
Teachers Deserve More and so do Our Students
Natalie Winslow, M.A.
5 years at MCC
My name is Natalie Winslow, and I am an adjunct. I obtained my master’s degree in 1992 with the certainty that I would receive a full-time position in my field. As it proved not to be quite as easy as I thought, I joined the Peace Corps and served for two years to get some experience. Upon my return I found myself in a nightmarish situation of working for three or four different academic institutions, private institutions, businesses and tutoring. From semester to semester, I never knew which classes would “go” and which would be cancelled. I, therefore, accepted more than I could handle. The result was that students’ education suffered. I was working up to 70 hours a week to make – at the most- $40,000 a year. I had to pay for my own benefits and return money to my employer if I was sick.
I’ve been doing this for a long time now. I can no longer work for multiple colleges as I am completely enervated. I now dedicate my time to Macomb. It is not a living wage, and my son and I qualify for Medicaid and other subsidies.
Honestly, I ask you. Is this how teachers should be treated?
I still put 110% into every lesson because I am a professional. I give my students what they deserve, so why doesn’t Macomb Community College give their adjunct teachers what they deserve?
The Bad News
On November 8 (prior to our last two bargaining sessions), The College requested a mediator.
As for the other 4 remaining unresolved issues, the College has informed us that they “are not moving” on our other requests.
Contract negotiations will reconvene in January, and a mediator will be joining us at the bargaining table.
Unresolved Issue #1: Paid Time Off
Unresolved Issue #2: Course Assignment, Cancellation, and Reassignment Processes (4.5, 4.10, and 4.11)
Unresolved Issue #3: College-Wide Seniority for Online Teaching
Unresolved Issue #4: Salary (Section 15)
At our last bargaining session on Tuesday, November 27, AAFMCC presented The College with a proposal package that targeted the 6 major contract issues that we still need to resolve:
The Good News: 2 Wins at the Table
After much discussion, collaboration, and compromise, we were able to come to an agreement on 2 of these 6 issues: Compensation for Committee Work and EAT.
Our next post will provide updates about the other 4 unresolved issues, so check back soon!
Win #1: Compensation for Committee Work
Highlights of Changes
Win #2: Engineering and Advanced Technology (EAT) Availability and Seniority Procedures (4.3)
Highlights of Changes
We realize that these changes do not reflect the totality of what we were hoping to accomplish for EAT faculty, but this compromise shows significant progress from The College’s initial position of “No Change” on the EAT issue.
Thank you to all the members who supported this cause and helped to facilitate this workable solution.
A Plea for a Tuition Waiver: Serving the Community Includes Helping Adjuncts and Their Families
4 years at MCC
Being adjunct faculty, I personally would like to go on to complete my bachelor’s degree. Having two associates degrees already, I believe it’s around a dozen classes or thereabouts needed to do so. With the current tuition costs, it’s financially better that I still work my regular day job and teach part time and not take classes due to the costs associated with completing my bachelor’s degree.
Any assistance MCC could offer would be certainly be an incentive . My wife and children have also expressed interest in attending MCC. My wife already has an associate’s in general studies but is interested in the graphic arts programs, and our son who is currently a sophomore in high school is looking to get his general studies classes completed prior to going forward with an electrical engineering degree. Our oldest daughter is currently enrolled at MCC, and with her own young family to take care of, any tuition discounts would also be an encouragement to them as well.
Being that MCC is in the higher education business, the knowledge and experience learned would directly benefit our community by having more well rounded and educated citizens
The Plight of the Adjunct
4 years at MCC
“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” ~ Robert Frost
As a child and student, I was encouraged to follow my dreams and pursue my passions. Despite the hardships (and the vague warnings about the job market), I did just that. I sought a job which would offer a sense of personal fulfillment and the feeling that I was making a difference. As a writing instructor, I know how crucial my job is in educating and assisting the Youth of Today.
Despite having an idea of the struggles facing me, I did it anyways.
Because I believe in my job. I believe in my students (most days). I believe that education is the best treatment for so many of the ailments of today’s society. Because I am stubborn – I persisted.
But lately, my persistence has become my plight. My passion has become my grief.
As I juggle teaching part time at 3+ institutions, one of which is over an hour commute from my house, I wonder: Did I make a mistake? Should I have chosen a career that would promise me a fat paycheck, regardless of my interest in it?
In the last eleven months, my bills (rent, car payments, utilities, credit card, car insurance, and phone) have all been at least a month late almost every month. I regularly open my refrigerator at home and am welcomed by emptiness more than substance. My daughter is fed. My cat is fed. The bills DO get paid...eventually. I am regularly harassed by bill collectors wanting to squeeze blood from a stone. If I had the money, wouldn’t I have paid that bill?
I should be working on my dissertation (because with that is the dim hope of a full-time teaching position), but I’m too worried about money to focus. I can’t afford the gas to get to the university and work. My relationship with my husband is strained because all we do is worry about money.
I’ve been teaching for almost a decade. I am rounding the corner to a PhD. And yet – as I regularly express to everyone who assumes that as a college instructor, I MUST be rich -- I would have been making more money, had health care, and been in a better place financially, if I had stayed working PART TIME at Starbucks.
As I type this, I am not sure if I will have enough classes across three schools to pay my bills next semester. I already deliver groceries with Shipt and sell books with Usborne Books & More to supplement my income. I occasionally help a friend with her business for a few extra dollars. And now I’m considering working for Amazon, too.
I cannot be the teacher I know that I can be – engaged, helpful, present, and effective – when I am stretched so thinly. I cannot contribute to the success of my students, my department, or even of this college, because I am so worried about where my groceries will come from, or what happens if I can’t pay that bill AGAIN.
Macomb Community College is failing me. The community college exists to help promote education in a community in order that its citizens can strive for a better future. We well our students that if they get an education, and work hard, then they can escape the crushing poverty that plagues our neighborhoods. And yet – and yet – the college refuses to remedy the fact that it does not grant the same hope to its Adjunct Faculty. They prey on the fact that we are spread too thin to attend meetings and make our voices heard. They keep us squashed beneath their thumb, knowing that we will likely stick around because the mere thought of abandoning over a decade (or more!) of education in our fields just to make better money kills us.
I implore the Board of Directors to hear our stories, show compassion, and have faith in us to help lift us out of this dark place and keep us on our feet. We will thank you graciously – with renewed job dedication, loyalty to the college, and more attentive teaching.
A Fly on the Wall: Reflections from the Bargaining Table
Nicole Castle-Kelly, B.A., M.A. in English
(emphasis in creative writing)
13 years at MCC
I began teaching composition and literature courses for MCC in fall 2005. It’s been an honor and one of the highlights of my life.
Satirist Kurt Vonnegut wrote in a letter to a North Dakota school board after they burned his books in the high school furnace that he felt he wasn’t REAL to those people.
When I attended my first bargaining session, this is how I felt. I was not real to William Tammone or Denise Williams. Neither Provost Tammone nor Denise Williams looked at me or acknowledged my presence. I was nothing more than a fly on the wall, a pest to be swatted at any moment.
During the session, it was evident that the HR director found it perfectly acceptable to show her disdain. It was my hope that Provost Tammone would think long and hard on what happened during these negotiations, or more appropriately WHAT didn’t happen.
Our team was told that they had given "much consideration" to our proposals and that it's a no on all of them. It’s my hope that the MCC Board of Trustees will instruct their team to acknowledge and fairly consider our proposals.
I am still puzzled why a place that I have taught for with passion and professionalism, wouldn’t want to show that I am valued. Why? There is really no good answer.
Is this the kind of environment that MCC wishes to cultivate? Is this the image that The College wants to project to our community and to our nation? I would think not.
And again, I ask you, why treat your adjuncts so shamefully?