- Faculty members at Pennsylvania’s 14 colleges and universities are considering a work stoppage, after contract negotiations between the union and the state’s system have broken down.
- According to Philadelphia Magazine, the system proposed a 20% salary reduction for adjunct faculty, an increased teaching load and a mandate for faculty members to become more familiar with distance learning technology.
- Faculty have worked without a contract for more than a year, and union reps will vote on a potential strike in August.
Lean financial times are putting more pressure on faculty unions to seek more from institutions and higher education systems. Some experts say that messaging and transparency is the key to limiting the influence of a faculty vote of dissatisfaction or a work stoppage.
Preserving the financial bottom line may be the first reaction to faculty discontent, but leaders should remember that faculty are the biggest part of the academic product. Allowing key departments to function with a high number of adjunct professors, or working to limit earning potential from tenured or seasoned professors, is the surest way to destroy faculty morale, and to gradually reduce the quality of teaching and learning for students.
It is the ultimate responsibility of university administration to help faculty make the connections between legislative appropriations, institutional spending priorities and economic realities. More than that, it is up to administrators to make faculty a part of the decision-making process, so the quality and quantity of good professors aren’t sacrificed by hard lining.