Statement on Labor Practices

SUNY Council on Writing
Position Statement on Labor Practices

Committee on Labor Practices:  Michael Murphy, Oswego; Cynthia Davidson, Stony Brook; Wilbur Farley, Stony Brook; Kelly Kinney, Binghamton; Tina Good, Suffolk CC

March 29, 2012

Labor practices deeply affect the general quality of college writing instruction.  Too often, college writing is taught by part-time faculty carrying heavy course loads on multiple campuses without the possibility of tenure or meaningful support for professional development.  Increasingly, too, graduate assistants who are struggling to finish their degrees become long-term part-timers as traditional full-time professorial lines continue to disappear.  The great majority of these faculty members, working without the possibility of promotion or advancement, are paid substandard salaries calculated on a per-section basis.  This arrangement makes the retention of qualified faculty difficult, driving away the most experienced, accomplished, effective teachers.   Many wonderful part-time faculty members and graduate assistants commit themselves to their work at great personal expense, and the academy owes much to their selflessness and expertise, as do the campuses on which they work.  Still, these practices discourage good teaching.  Moreover, the heavy reliance on non-tenure track faculty places an increasingly disproportionate administrative burden on the tenure-line and full-time faculty.

Acknowledging the pressing urgency of this situation and the clearly established relationship between effective teaching and healthy working conditions for faculty, the SUNY Council on Writing hereby proposes:

1.  That, in accordance with the Report of the UUP Task Force on Contingent Employees, http://uupinfo.org/reports/reportpdf/TFCE%20Report.pdf,  all SUNY campuses begin using a prorated version of the minimum negotiated salary for Full-Time Lecturers within UUP as a general minimum for part-time salaries.  According to rates negotiated for Fall 2012, this would mean that part-time faculty would make a minimum of $4,713 per section.

2.  That these positions be converted to full-time with the possibility of meaningful advancement across a career.  A stable body of well-prepared, available full-time faculty provide better instruction for students.  Faculty should be part-time only when fluctuations in enrollment require it.

3.  That ultimately provisions for tenure-like arrangements (“security of employment” and “continuous employment” lines, etc.) be made available for full-time instructor lines.

4.  That Composition and Rhetoric be represented with much greater frequency in hiring for new professorial lines, recognizing that on many campuses tenure lines for faculty in Composition and Rhetoric are grossly outnumbered by those in other divisions in English and the Humanities.

5.  That graduate assistants be assigned no more than one section and twenty students in any given semester, following the standards of the National Council of Teachers of English.

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