Teresa George’s address to the Board of Trustees, 12/8/17
When I addressed this Board last year, I said that the University might leave itself open to charges of labor law violations if it did not change the way it compensated and bargained with adjunct faculty. And in fact, in November of this year, the Massachusetts Labor Relations Board charged UMass Lowell with six counts of labor law violations in regards to its dealings with the Union of Adjunct Faculty.
Although I understand that the Board doesn’t get involved in labor negotiations, you should be worried about these charges for several reasons.
It reflects poorly on the great reputation of our school.
Adjunct faculty, the people standing in this room, are scientists, engineers, ministers, lawyers, artists, business owners, accomplished musicians, published authors, and other experts in their field. They spend countless hours helping their students to achieve academic success. The administration should be looking for ways to fully utilize their talents and to support them.
It is a waste of our talents to be excluded from the academic life of the community – prevented from attending meetings, and recognition events, and being forced to meet with students in inadequate office space.
It is unfair that we receive less salary than our counterparts in Boston and Amherst who provide the same high quality education we do, and whose campuses charge essentially the same tuition.
It is outrageous that we are the only adjunct faculty in the entire UMass System that doesn’t receive health care or benefits, The refusal to do this has actual life and death consequences. Indeed, a former faculty member, my friend Eric Bourgeois, died last year of health condition that might have been prevented if he’d had proper health insurance.
It is wrong to say, as was stated by a University spokesperson and reported in a Boston Globe article that we deserve less pay and no benefits because we don’t hold office hours and don’t mentor students. This is patently untrue, but if it were true, it would be a terrible way to attract students. Imagine: half of your teachers are not required to meet with you or mentor you.
We welcome any sincere efforts to work collaboratively with the administration, but we will continue to resist unfair negotiation practices and unreasonable demands. The time is long past for President Marty Meehan, Chancellor Jackie Moloney and this Board to treat the adjunct faculty at Lowell with equity and fairness. When they do, they can more fully realize the great talent these dedicated professionals bring to the University. We will not rest until that happens.