Healthcare and pensions

Note: Concerned about the Affordable Care Act? Please see the web page we've assembled here. Remember ACA does not supersede collectively bargained language including contract language on benefits eligibility or teaching load.

Without universal healthcare coverage in the United States and as access to good and secure pensions deteriorate, medical and retirement benefits have become critical, particularly for low- and middle-income wage earners. A contingent faculty member working the equivalent of a full-load can still end up paying a significant portion of their income to buy into a healthcare and/or retirement plan. We seek to address this problem by mandating that all faculty teaching a 50% load or higher should have access to healthcare and pension benefits. Not surprisingly, given the magnitude and importance of this issue, many locals have bargained access to these benefits for contingent faculty.

Below are examples of unions who have been working toward this standard, along with links to their web sites and collective bargaining agreements (where available).

Faculty and Staff Federation of the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP)

At CCP, adjunct faculty under the Federation contract earn one seniority unit for each semester taught; maximum of two seniority units per year. CCP pays 50% of the healthcare premium for employees with fewer than 8 seniority units and 75% of the healthcare premium for employees with 8 or more seniority units. For adjunct faculty at CCP with four or more units of seniority, the college will match employee contributions to a retirement plan of 5% of earnings.

See the full Federation contract here.

Lecturers' Employee Organization (LEO)

At the University of Michigan, as stipulated in LEO's contract, every contingent faculty member who teaches at a 50% load for at least four months has access to health care benefits. The have also bargained "bridge coverage so that anyone teaching eight months has coverage for the full year.

See the full LEO contract here.

Los Angeles College Faculty Guild

According to the LA College Faculty Guild Adjunct Survival Guide, qualifying part-time faculty have access to the health plans offered to full time faculty. The Guides states that:

The district contributes $2,640 annually toward medical benefits for adjuncts who enroll and meet the following criteria:

  • are teaching in the current fall or spring semester
  • are on a seniority list
  • teach at least .33 FTE in the LACCD
  • have taught at least a .2 load for three out of the last eight semesters
  • Coverage is for 12 months, even if not teaching intersessions.

See the full LA Faculty Guild contract here.

The Minnesota State College Faculty

At the Minnesota State two-year colleges, the typical load is 15 credits per semester with typical variations. Access to healthcare benefits and insurance are based on the credit load that a part-time faculty member carries. Part-time faculty member that carries 6 credits or credit equivalents in a semester are eligible for the partial employer contribution. That contribution includes:

full employer contribution for basic life coverage, and at the faculty member's option, the partial contribution for health and dental coverage(s). The partial employer contribution for health and dental coverage(s) is fifty percent (50%) of the full cost.

See the full MSCF contract here.

United University Professions

According to the UUP Part-time Fact Sheet, contingent faculty have the following healthcare benefits under the UUP contract.

Part-timers who teach two courses or, if they don't teach courses, who are expected to earn $11,849 per year, are eligible for the same health insurance as full-timers. They receive coverage for 6 months for every semester or 5-month period they work. If they work two semesters or 10 months, they receive a full year of coverage. Part-timers who do not qualify for health insurance may buy it at the group rate. Part-timers who are eligible for health insurance also qualify for the Benefit Fund. This includes a dental benefit, vision benefit, and a scholarship for dependent children who attend SUNY state-operated colleges. Part-timers and their spouses will receive lifetime health insurance after they retire if they 1) are age 55 or older; 2) have 10 years (120 months) of health insurance eligibility in any state agency, not just SUNY, and 3) retire while they are receiving state health insurance benefits.

UUP's full contract is here.

Does your contract have good language in this area? Send us a message to let us know.