Take action on healthcare reform

The Affordable Care Act aims to expand health coverage as widely as possible, and requires employers to do their part by covering their full-time employees. Unfortunately, many institutions have been undermining the ACA by reducing contingent faculty workload.

If you are faced with a reduction in hours at your institution, here are some steps you can take to fight back:

  • Tell AFT National. We are tracking employer behavior with regard to ACA and you can help. Fill out this survey to let us know whetheryour institution is cutting workloads or threatening to do so. You are not alone.

If you have a collective bargaining agreement:

  • Examine your contract. Consider filing a grievance or group of grievances.

If you bargain collectively over hours of work, does the workload reduction violate your contract? Is management obligated to bargain over workload changes? If so, gather your facts and file a grievance.

  • Consider filing an unfair labor practice charge. Examine the facts of your situation. Is workload is a mandatory subject of bargaining? Did you demand to bargain over the changes? Did management unilaterally implement the workload changes without bargaining? If so, consider filing an Unfair Labor Practice charge with your state labor board.

Whether you negotiate a contract or not:

  • Engage the campus community. Let students, staff and others on campus know that you are fighting for quality education. Enlist their support for better working conditions for contingent faculty and specifically that your employer provide healthcare benefits to those who qualify and not cut contingent faculty hours to skirt the law. That may include:
  • Resolutions by the faculty senate to support contingent faculty in this fight, including support for a grievance or unfair labor practice if you have filed one.
  • Resolutions by the student government in support of contingent faculty.
  • Campus petitions signed by students, faculty and staff.
  • Engage the broader community. Reach out to community groups your members work with or who also work with students at your college in other capacities and let them know you are fighting for quality education at your institution.
  • Let the local press know.This is a story that has been covered widely in the higher education trade press. You can take advantage of that by pitching the local angle to the press in your area.

Other Ways to Take Action on Healthcare Reform

  • Survey your members. The following questions will help collect the data necessary to begin to see how members may be affected by healthcare exchanges, premium subsidies and employer penalties. You might ask members:
  • How many courses do you normally teach each semester?
  • Do you have health coverage?
  • Do you have health coverage through your employer?
  • Do you have health coverage from another employer, a spouse or partner, Medicare or another source?

Have you had your course load cut, or has your employer threatened to cut your course load under the guise of ACA compliance?

In “A Portrait of Part-Time Faculty Members,” a 2012 publication of the Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW), 78 percent of the part-time faculty respondents reported that they taught only one or two courses per term. How does that compare with the contingent faculty members at your institution?

Related Articles

Additional information on the AFT's response to the Affordable Care Act.

AFT On Campus, Jan./Feb. 2013

American Teacher, May/June 2012