Monthly Archives: September 2007

Joint Committee on the Visiting Status September 13, 2007

On September 13, 2007, Kye Carbone sent the following email:

Dear UFCT Member:

As Pratt faculty members, most of us are aware of how intractable the visiting category/status issue has become. Getting the Pratt Administration [in the last negotiation] to agree to meet and discuss the many issues emanating from the ‘visiting category' was no small feat. As called for in the 2003-2007 CBA, a joint committee to discuss the myriad of issues related to this faculty status was in fact constituted in January 2006. The committee was co-chaired by the Institute Provost and me as President of the UFCT. Eleven committee members: five faculty, five administrators and one representative of the academic senate met ten times over the course of ten months and amazingly, agreed on much more than what – seemingly -divided us.

At this time [fall 2007], the recommendations of the JCVS (Joint Committee on the Visiting Status) committee are being exhaustively discussed as we are once again, in the midst of contract negotiations. It would appear that this is an operative time to earnestly see if we can buck the status-quo. As this issue may just yet result in amendment of the collective bargaining agreement, I assure you, that any and all changes to the CBA will be sufficiently vetted publicly. 

That said, I have attached to this email transmission, a "history/editorial" of the Visiting Category' which I wrote in fall 2005, as well as read aloud at the first JCVS meeting. Polemics aside, this editorial-history is sufficiently buttressed by empirical facts, namely, that this faculty status was never necessarily designated for the exclusive use of the impermanent artist/practitioner; the guest artist "visitor" who would teach at Pratt  in a limited capacity and only for a short period of time.

Rectifying this issue is of tremendous benefit to all faculty, full-time and part-time alike.

In Solidarity,

Kye

Here is the attachment to which he referred:

THE VISITING CATEGORY

Before there was a faculty union at Pratt Institute and a collective bargaining agreement, Pratt faculty members were either full-time or part-time. The categories/statuses: ‘adjunct' and ‘visiting' were non-existent for the part-time faculty.

Just prior to enacting the first contract in 1972, the UFCT asked each part-time faculty member if they wished to be full-time. Those wishing to be full-time were given adjunct titles. Moreover, if this newly minted adjunct had served the Institute for ten semesters or more, they were "deemed professionally competent" and given a Certificate of Continuous Employment (CCE).

 

For all intents and purposes, the Adjunct w/CCE was a "full-timer in waiting", the Institute "obligated to offer such full-time positions within their field of competence if such openings exist." This aspect of the CCE status no longer exists; lost in negotiations for the 1997-2000 contract.

However, for the contingent of part-time faculty who did not wish to be full-time, or for those who were not necessarily interested in a professorial-track, the professional or "distinguished practitioners or specialists" faculty status, i.e. the visiting category, was thus created.

Therefore, the visiting category was not necessarily at its inception; nor is it (certainly) at present, a faculty category for the temporarily employed; the so-called "art star", guest artist or resident. It would appear to have always been a faculty classification for the practitioner with the ability to teach to their area of expertise/competence; the: engineers, architects, art directors, graphic-designers, etc. who had established professional careers and regarded their teaching as supplemental. As such, their commitment to Pratt was limited. Therefore, academic advancement, employment level, job protection, benefits eligibility and/or tenure were never assigned to, nor ever associated with visiting titles.

Confusion often ensues when describing distinctions between these two part-time faculty statuses. Adjunct is synonymous with part-timer "everywhere else". Likewise, to be a ‘visitor' or ‘visiting lecturer' at most other colleges is to be a ‘guest' or ‘resident' artist/lecturer – temporarily employed to fulfill the dictates of a specialized educational project or objective. Conversely, such distinguished practitioners (or visitors) are well compensated for these specialized – but limited endeavors. Pratt Institute appears to have no real history of utilizing its visiting category in this manner.

True, there are many distinguished visitors who have taught and who continue to teach at Pratt Institute – demonstrating their distinction every day. This is undoubtedly one of the hallmarks of a Pratt education: real practitioners who teach! Most of us who were visitors initially were invited to teach; the invitation predicated on our published and/or exhibited works of distinction. Yet, when initially hired, we were never informed of the differences between the visiting and adjunct statuses. The average visitor remains unaware of these distinctions until and when they wish an additional class, or wish to purchase medical benefits. At what point does one's service exceed a ‘visit'? At what point has one overstayed their welcome?

Seventy-five percent of Pratt's courses are taught by part-timers (split almost evenly between adjunct and visiting). A distinct majority (58%) of the total faculty body (full-time and part-time combined) is visiting. Is this good educationally?

In many respects, it is the effectiveness of the average visitor that has brought us to this critical juncture. If not for their wish to be acknowledged, awarded and advanced for a job well done, would the average visitor risk butting-heads with an administrative practice appearing to reckon that as long as the majority of Pratt's faculty is not heavily invested in the institute (and vice-verse) the status quo will continue?

The status quo seems to welcome and retain visitors so long as they do not covet adjunct status. Since 1972, clear distinctions between visiting and adjunct have become effectively blurred. The bargaining history of this period is abundantly clear, the Pratt Administration was determined to retard, dissuade, and eventually render obsolete, the conferral of CCE. By determinedly exploiting the dividing-line between visiting and adjunct, the Pratt Institute Administration essentially accomplished one of its primary goals, a weak faculty/labor force.

When one faculty status is exploited, all are vulnerable. When we allow fissures in our faculty ranks to be exploited, we imperil the entire faculty: full-time and part-time alike.

Rectifying the visiting category issue demands our full attention.

Respectfully Submitted,

Kye Carbone

Adjunct Professor w/CCE

President UFCT Local 1460

Fall Semester 2005 Faculty Stats:

120 Full-Time

250 Adjunct (56 w/CCE)

510 Visiting

(300 teaching no more than three-contact hours)

 

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Contract language for the visiting category is virtually unchanged since initially written in 1972:

Visiting Faculty:

  • Distinguished practitioners/specialists
  • Shall teach no more than one half of the full-time workload
  • Compensation shall parallel the equivalent adjunct ranks
  • Shall not be eligible for a CCE

————————————————————————————————————

Draft

PROPOSAL

(Define or re-define the visiting category. What it is at present? What has it become?)

  • Distinguished practitioner or specialist, and/or
  • Adjunct applicant
  • Probationary and evaluation period up to (?) years

————————————————————————————————————

Union Proposal, 1993:

"If the Institute reappoints a visiting faculty member for a second-year, the faculty member may elect, following notification of reappointment, to convert to adjunct status."

The following was included in the status report of September 22, 2007:

JCVS: Joint Committee on the Visiting Status

As faculty, most of you are aware of how intractable the visiting category issue has become. Getting the Pratt Administration to agree to meet and discuss the issues emanating from the ‘visiting category' was no small feat. As called for in the 2003-2007 CBA, a joint committee to discuss the myriad of issues related to this faculty status was constituted in January 2006. The committee was co-chaired by the Institute Provost and me as President of the UFCT. Eleven committee members: five faculty, five administrators and one representative of the academic senate met ten times over the course of ten months and amazingly, agreed on much more than what – seemingly – divided us. At the time of this writing (September 2007), the recommendations of the JCVS committee may just yet result in amendment of the collective bargaining agreement. The UFCT and Pratt Administration are meeting regularly and discussing in detail what a ‘Re-Structured Part-Time Faculty' should look like. I assure you that when the time is right, any and all – proposed – changes will be sufficiently vetted publicly. Stay tuned!

Elections Update September 22, 2007

From the September 22, 2007 status report:

Hard to believe that late this fall semester the UFCT will be once again conducting its elections, the current three-year terms for all four officer positions: President, VP, Secretary and Treasurer expiring on December 31, 2007. Currently, these four positions are held respectively by: Kye Carbone, Adjunct Professor w/CCE, Foundation Art, Steve Doloff, Full Professor (w/tenure), English & Humanities, Suzanne Verderber, Associate Professor (w/tenure), English & Humanities, and Anne Turyn, Adjunct Professor w/CCE, Media Arts. All UFCT members will have an opportunity to vote-in officers for all four positions for the next three-year term, which runs from January 1, 2008 thru December 31, 2010.

Please contact the UFCT office if you are interested in serving the Union's Elections Committee. Four to six volunteers would suffice. This committee should be in position to start the elections process by mid-semester. As is our custom, first a nominations ballot is sent to all UFCT members, followed by an elections ballot [which is both blind and secret]. Exclusively, the Elections Committee will conduct all balloting and tallying of ballots.

Negotiations Update September 22, 2007

From the September 22, 2007 status report:

The 2003-2007 Collective Bargaining Agreement expired on August 31, 2007. As of this writing, the UFCT and Pratt Administration have already held six negotiation sessions (two to three hours each), having started in June, and are scheduled to meet two more times back-to-back in early October. Mid-month and in late October, the mediator/arbitrator: Martin Scheinman, who oversaw our last negotiation (for the 2003-2007 CBA), and who has mediated some dozen grievance/arbitration(s) since spring 2005, will be coming to Pratt to oversee what I hope will be the finalization of our current contract negotiations. If all continues to go well it is certainly possible that we could be looking a potential settlement agreement by early November, a ratification vote shortly thereafter, and a ratified contract by semester's end. As reminder, the chief reason UFCT membership is crucial is that it will only be those dues-paying members who will be allowed to vote up or down this next contract.

As you recall, our major demands are:

Agency Fee: Sometimes referred to as an ‘Activity Fee,' ‘Service Fee,' or ‘Fair Share.' An agency fee, which is equivalent to regular union membership dues minus the portion earmarked for NYSUT/AFT's political action committee (PAC) would be required of every bargaining unit member.

Salaries and Rates of Compensation: All rates of compensation and salaries adjusted upwards to bring Pratt Institute in line with its sister/comparable Art & Design colleges. Additionally, there should be something resembling parity between PT rates and FT salaries; part-time faculty paid the percentage of a full-time workload they teach. [EX: If a part-timer teaches 50% of a full-time load and an average full-time salary at his/her rank is $56,000, the part-timer should be paid something akin to: $28,000.] This is about equity and fairness.

Workload: Full-time undergraduate studio and lecture workloads should be reduced. Moreover, all so-called ‘mixed' course designations: M1, M2, should be regularized or eliminated altogether.

Fringe Benefits: The percentage of Administration contributions to faculty pension accounts should be increased, along with making available to all faculty members, these ‘traditional' TIAA-CREF accounts. Additionally, health benefits w/Administration contributions should be available to all faculty members!

The biggest obstacle in negotiations is always in holding-the-line on faculty safeguards, and in countering the Administration's demands. As expected, much is at stake. For instance, in this latest round of negotiations, the Administration is proposing a rewrite of article(s): III and IXX, ‘Academic Freedom & Responsibility' and ‘Personnel Files' respectively [Why might that be?] As you can imagine, it is imperative that we have our wits about us. That said, I am ever confident in the collective wisdom of the UFCT's present negotiating team: Steve Doloff, UFCT VP and FT Professor in English & Humanities, Bob Zaccone, Adjunct Professor w/CCE in the School of Architecture, Suzanne Verderber, UFCT Secretary and FT Associate Professor in English & Humanities, Holly Wilson, FT Assistant Professor in Libraries, and Ric Brown, one of three UFCT Grievance Committee members and FT Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences. A mid-October ‘General Membership' Meeting is being scheduled at which time, I'll speak freely about the status of these negotiations.

Grievance Update September 22, 2007

From Kye Carbone’s September 22, 2007 status report:

I am exceedingly proud that the UFCT has now established – over the last four years – an impressive track record of vigilance in defending the Contract, the bargaining unit and its bargaining unit members. A lengthy grievance report, giving summaries of all grievances for academic years: 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 is being completed at this writing and will be distributed to each and every UFCT member by mid-semester.