AFT Resolution

LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE TO RECTIFY UNFAIR AND DETRIMENTAL EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES IN HIGHER EDUCATION

WHEREAS, since its 2014 convention, the American Federation of Teachers has undertaken several initiatives intended to redress the appalling higher education employment practices that control the lives of adjunct/contingent faculty and degrade the quality of education provided to our students; and

WHEREAS, it has never been more important to activate all union members and to enlist agency fee payers as union members; and 

WHEREAS, the vast majority of fee payers in higher education are inadequately compensated faculty in adjunct/contingent positions from which they can be fired at any time for any reason or no reason; and

WHEREAS, difficulty in negotiating significant increases in compensation, benefits and job security for adjunct/contingent faculty across higher education has resulted in disproportionately lower income, limited benefits and insecurity for these bargaining unit members; and

WHEREAS, successfully advocating for and achieving stable income and increased job security for adjunct/contingent faculty is critical to mobilizing these bargaining unit members; and 

WHEREAS, legislative and policy reform is needed to assist in addressing these issues, and such national reform is not feasible without the coordinated efforts of all the major higher education unions and other organizations that represent adjunct/contingent faculty:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will develop and implement a plan for federal and state legislative and policy reform addressing adjunct/contingent employment practices, including but not limited to:

A. Advocating for regulatory and/or legislative changes to enable adjunct/contingent faculty to receive unemployment insurance, including

  1. clarification that adjunct/contingent faculty have “no reasonable assurance” of continued employment and therefore should be eligible for unemployment insurance absent guaranteed continuing employment; and
  2. imposition of penalties on any institutions that report falsified information during legal proceedings pertaining to the level of assurance afforded to their employees who apply for unemployment compensation (as is currently the case in the California Unemployment Insurance Code, Section 1142b);

B. Investigating outdated, incorrect and conflicting interpretations of the nature of faculty work as they are present in existing or proposed federal statutes or regulations that compromise equality and consistency of protections for adjunct/contingent faculty under the law;

C. Advocating for resumption of and adequate funding for the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty and inclusion of data collection on both tenure-track and adjunct/contingent faculty;

D. Advocating for the creation and implementation of a national clearinghouse that would prompt colleges and universities to accurately disclose to the public the working conditions of all of their faculty and professional staff, including numbers, compensation, workload, retention and access to institutional support;

E. Advocating for a more comprehensive Contingent Work Supplement from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that would include adjunct/contingent academic workers and would be conducted at regular intervals beyond the 2017 update;

F. Advocating for passage of the Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act and other student debt relief efforts and actively disseminating information to and assisting adjunct/contingent faculty seeking public student loan forgiveness; and

G. Advocating for equal access to retirement benefits by investigating best practices and developing legislative and other strategies for providing faculty and professional staff employed in adjunct/contingent positions with appropriately prorated retirement benefits; and

RESOLVED, that to the greatest extent possible, the AFT will work on these legislative and policy initiatives in formal coalition with other national unions and with disciplinary organizations and social justice organizations concerned with adjunct/contingent equity, such as the Coalition on the Academic Workforce and the New Faculty Majority. 

(2016)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.