Friday, December 18, 2015

Students at Confluence charter schools get $12,500 in toys, clothes and gifts from donors : News

Students at Confluence charter schools get $12,500 in toys, clothes and gifts from donors : News

On the Police Officer who aimed his weapon at media and protestors – the saga continues

Ferguson Revelations and Sequiturs...

More on the officer who activists refer to as "Officer Go Fuck Yourself"

Cop Who Threatened To Kill Ferguson Protesters Says His Life Is ‘Ruined’
Ray Albers pointed an assault rifle at demonstrators and said, “I will f**king kill you.”

Lt. Ray Albers | Former Saint Ann Police Officer | FM NewsTalk 97.1

Write to Josh!

Write to Josh!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Letter on the current status of negotiations between WUSTL and the Adjunct Professors' Union

Note from BG (Bret Gustafson).  The following is an update I received on the status of negotiations between Washington University and the new adjunct union (formed by SEIU).  I share it with the interest of making the process more transparent, in the interests of improving the working situation of adjuncts, the quality of instruction, and the quality of life for everyone on campus.  

I reserve assessment – both of the administration and of the union – until later.  In other words, the fact that I am sharing this is neither an indictment of the administration (yet), nor a critique or embrace of the union’s position, strategy, and achievements (yet). 

I received this letter via email on December 2, 2015 and am sharing it with permission.

Dear Colleagues,

You are receiving this message because you signed the petition to Chancellor Mark Wrighton and Provost Holden Thorp requesting that they become as involved as their schedules permit in the negotiations between Washington University in St. Louis and the adjunct faculty bargaining committee. If you do not wish to receive updates about our bargaining, please say so in a reply to this message and we will remove you from the list.

We delivered the petition that you signed to the Chancellor’s and Provost’s offices today, and Student Life may run a copy of the letter this week. We would like to thank you again for your support for this important issue.

We’re writing because our bargaining has reached a critical juncture and we could use help from our allies. For the past eight weeks, during five full days of bargaining, we have been negotiating for appointments longer than one (1) semester for adjunct faculty who have been teaching stable course loads for many years. Our priorities are representative of the national conversation around adjunct working conditions, in that surveys of our bargaining unit provided us with a mandate to prioritize this issue of stable appointments above all else, save higher compensation.

We initially proposed a multi-tiered system of course appointment, where longer terms of service with a stable pattern of teaching resulted in longer appointments of the same course load, beginning at one year and topping out at three years. The University responded with a proposal that essentially codifies the status quo. In the University’s proposal, an adjunct faculty member who taught exactly the same courses every semester for seven years can expect a “good faith” commitment to re-appointment on a per-semester basis, where “good faith” is limited by an itemized list of nine exceptions. Taken together, these exceptions essentially give administration the right to unilaterally deny the re-appointment for any reason that it sees fit.

Since we are in a negotiation process, our bargaining committee’s assumption was that the final agreement would fall somewhere between these two proposals. In the past eight weeks, we have submitted three separate proposals for a path to longer appointments, all of which incorporated language from University counter-proposals, with our final proposal seeking yearlong appointments for faculty who show consistent patterns of instruction over three or more years. The University has responded to our counterproposals by offering back their original appointment language verbatim, with only minor addendums surrounding the issue of teaching evaluation, which does not touch the substantive issues.

In the past five sessions, we have asked for reasons that longer appointments are problematic, to which we have received no response beyond the fact that the University is uninterested, and that they see no tangible benefit to student learning. In our meeting yesterday, we offered several reasons for how contingent appointments harm student learning, including: 1) we are often asked by students to write recommendation letters or participate in extra-curricular mentorship programs but are in the awkward position of being unsure whether we will be faculty at the time in question, 2) when we are offered courses a few weeks in advance, our ability to prep courses and order texts is severely hindered, and 3) a lack of timely appointments forces us to cast our nets as broadly as possible for course assignments, which can result in over-commitment the next semester, drastically reducing our availability for instruction outside the classroom. The University provided no rebuttal to these points while continuing to insist that they saw no need for longer appointments because it works now---they see no problem with the current system.

It became clear to us at this meeting that the University is refusing to negotiate anything other than superficialities over the issue of semester-long appointments, and that they are uninterested in having a dialogue about how to dovetail our interests. So far, we have tried to achieve a fair contract by using the bargaining table alone, but it appears that we can no longer rely solely on negotiations.  

This is why we could use any help you might be able to offer. We have already partnered with the Student-Worker Alliance on a series of direct actions to promote the cause among the student body.

Here are some of the activities for which we are looking for additional support:
1.      Wear stickers on December 9th and 10th supporting the Adjunct campaign
2.      Attend a candlelight vigil around 4:45pm on December 9th at the Arch in Brookings/Quad

If you have any additional ideas about how we can raise awareness among our tenure-track colleagues, we would greatly appreciate hearing them. If you would be willing and able to discuss these issues with more of your tenure-track co-workers, particularly members of any faculty-governance organizations or faculty who also hold college or university-level administrative positions, we feel this could be productive.

Once again, we very much appreciate the support you have offered by signing the petition, and thank you for your help on this important issue facing higher education.

Yours in solidarity,