Point Park University and the United Steelworkers union announced Wednesday they have reached a tentative agreement on a contract representing more than 300 part-time instructors.
The collaboration comes nearly 10 months since negotiations began. As a union, part-time faculty asked for pay equity and job security previously unavailable with their individual contracts.
Robin Sowards, an organizer with United Steelworkers union, said the agreement includes significant wage increases, improved working conditions and increased job security for part-time instructors.
Historically, these instructors have been hired on a semester-to-semester basis and paid an average of $2,000 a course for up to six courses a year.
“You know once you’ve been doing it for 10 years or something, that seems pretty unreasonable,” he said. “You’re not, in fact, engaging in temporary labor. You’re really just a permanent employee but treated as if you are temporary and hired in this precarious way where you don’t know if you will have a job next semester.”
The agreement provides instructional support to adjunct faculty including access to telephones, computers and office space to meet with students.
“Having a job that’s a little more stable and pays a little better means you have to take on fewer jobs and you can focus more on the students at this particular school rather than (having) to fly around quite as much just to make a living,” he said.
The contract marks the union’s first with a Pittsburgh college or university. Sowards said much of the nearly year-long discussion concerned finding ways to move Point Park forward and carry out the school's mission.
Point Park President Paul Hennigan said in a release that the agreement symbolizes the role part-time instructors play at the university.
“Point Park University maintains great respect for its part-time faculty and fully appreciates their strong commitment to academic excellence,” he said. “This agreement is a reflection of the entire university community’s focus on teaching, learning and student success.”
Members of the union will make a ratification vote via mail-in ballots. The union expects to ratify the agreement next month, Sowards said.