PITTSBURGH, June 6, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The adjunct faculty at Robert Morris University overwhelmingly ratified their first union contract Monday evening, with 95 percent voting in favor of ratification.
The contract, which covers some 430 members of the bargaining unit, provides dramatic improvements in job security, pay, due process, sick leave, shared governance and academic freedom.
The agreement includes a 20 percent increase in the average compensation over its 3-year term, retroactive through the spring of 2017. Some of the lowest-paid adjunct faculty will receive pay increases as high as 29 percent.
The contract also raises the number of courses adjuncts can teach each year, as well as offering a fee for courses that are cancelled at the last minute when the work of preparing the courses has already been done.
"This recognition from the administration is a long time coming – and I should know since I've been teaching here since 1981," said Shiv Sharma, a Robert Morris adjunct who served on the union bargaining committee. "Now, as members of the Steelworkers union, we're finally getting the support from the university that we need to help our students succeed."
The contract also provides unparalleled job protections. Rather than course assignments being made unilaterally by department heads, the contract requires them to preserve the course loads of existing adjunct faculty and to assign additional courses based on seniority.
"Adjunct faculty are the backbone of higher education today, and we're proud to have helped them win a level of security and respect far more appropriate to their calling as teachers and scholars," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "We commend both sides on their diligent work over many months to find responsible solutions grounded in the shared commitment to Robert Morris University's students."
With yesterday's agreement, Robert Morris's adjunct faculty now join hundreds of adjuncts at Point Park University who signed their first contract in 2015. Adjuncts at Duquesne University who voted to join the USW in 2012 are still fighting for union recognition as the university engages in a series of appeals.
The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, municipal governments and agencies, and higher education.
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SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)