Georgetown and Adjuncts Come to Terms

Continuing to set a standard on the working conditions and treatment of adjunct professors, Georgetown University has reached a tentative agreement with SEIU Local 500 on all of the terms of the university's first collective bargaining agreement covering part-time faculty members on the main campus. The agreement remains to be ratified by the SEIU local.

According to the terms of the agreement posted at the SEIU Local 500 website, the minimum payment for a 3 or 4 credit class at Georgetown will be $4,300 in the Spring 2015, rising to $4,700 for the fall 2016 semester. The agreement also establishes a number of protocols to govern the relationship between Georgetown and its adjunct faculty.

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In an email announcing the tentative accord Georgetown Provost Robert Groves, wrote, "We are hopeful that, through this agreement, and through our continued work together, part-time faculty members in our community will feel as welcomed and valued as other faculty members. We want to honor what each individual brings to his or her work and to the fabric of our university community. We thank the SEIU leaders for their work and we look forward to continuing our work together.

"As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, Georgetown maintains a deep commitment to care of the whole person. Our commitment is reflected in both our concern for our faculty and our care of students. This concern for faculty is manifest in many ways, including in this first collective bargaining agreement with our part-time faculty."

The relationship between Georgetown and its adjuncts, who voted to unionize in May 2013, continues to remain positive, in contrast to a number of Catholic institutions around the country where administration and adjunct faculty have been on far-less cordial terms. Unionizing campaigns have been vigorously resisted at some Catholic colleges as threats to institutional identity, but Georgetown has taken a different tack, embracing faculty unionizing efforts as a practical expression of Catholic social teaching in action.

Often low-paid and benefit-challenged, adjunct academics have become essentially the standard faculty on college campuses in America. They now make up as much as 70 percent of the teaching staff; 40 years ago they represented less than 30 percent of classroom instructors.

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