Ratification Press Release
Ratification Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, August 13, 2018
CONTACT: Libby Smelker
On behalf of UMass Lowell Union of Adjunct Faculty
(United Auto Workers)
UMASS LOWELL ADJUNCT FACULTY UNION VOTES OVERWHELMINGLY TO RATIFY NEW LABOR CONTRACT FOLLOWING INTENSE CAMPAIGN
Lowell, MA – Members of the UMass Lowell Union of Adjunct Faculty voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday and Wednesday to ratify a new labor contract that will bring key improvements to working conditions for faculty and learning conditions for students at the Lowell campus of the University of Massachusetts. The new contract includes limited access to health care benefits for a small group of faculty who teach a qualifying number of courses; salary increases; and the right to develop their own syllabus and choose their own textbooks.
Adjunct faculty members, who teach an increasing percentage of courses at UMass campuses and at schools across the country, have made national headlines in recent years for unionizing in the face of substandard wages and a lack of benefits. They voted to join the United Auto Workers in 2010. The contract ratified yesterday is the result of over three years of intense negotiations between the union and the University.
“We stand tall with our members, who fought for justice and who voted overwhelmingly to ratify this contract, which finally awards the faculty and students at UMass Lowell a pathway to the justice and equity they deserve,” said Ellen Wallace, Massachusetts Sub-Regional Director of the UAW. “Not only will this contract improve working conditions for our members, it will also improve learning conditions for UML students, which is always our members’ top priority.”
Approximately 500 adjunct faculty and thousands of students will benefit from the new and long overdue investments the contract will secure for the UMass Lowell campus, all on the heels of a controversial move by UMass President Meehan earlier this year to spend millions purchasing the failing Mt. Ida College.
The new deal makes significant progress towards equitable working conditions for the adjunct professors at UMass Lowell, who in recent months waged a vigorous public campaign proving that students and adjunct professors in Lowell were subject to inequitable treatment under the administration of UMass President and former U.S. Congressman Marty Meehan.
That campaign culminated in a protest at the UMass Board of Trustees meeting where Meehan was presented with a failing “report card” by adjunct professors for his failure to provide comparable benefits and pay to their peers at other campuses.
Adjunct professors had announced plans to host a “Justice for Lowell” rally outside Oprah Winfrey’s appearance today at the Tsongas Arena, but no protest is planned now that the contract has been ratified.
Earlier in the year, the professors won another key victory when they filed a Charge of Prohibited Practice with the Department of Labor Relations around efforts by the administration to artificially cap the number of courses a professor was allowed to teach, even when teaching additional courses would benefit students. The union maintained that the cap had been installed to prevent professors from qualifying for benefits. The Charge led to an agreement that included a requirement that the Provost provide written notice that there is no cap.
After going years without raises, UMass Lowell adjunct professors will make significant progress on a pathway to equity with other campuses including through raises that will total between 18.14% and 19.32% over three years.
Other contract highlights include:
- Under the new contract, faculty will be able to achieve senior status more quickly. The union also fought back against attempts by the university to strip away rights and benefits from senior faculty.
- A small percentage of adjunct faculty, for the first time, will be eligible for state employee retirement benefits. The Union has maintained that all half-time faculty should be eligible and sees this as good first step towards that goal.
- Also for the first time, adjunct faculty, who often make a living by teaching at multiple campuses and universities, will receive a 10% cancellation fee when courses are cancelled by UMass Lowell.