Over the last decade, faculty at University of Southern California have become increasingly concerned at the direction the administration is taking the institution: addition or cancellation of teaching appointments at the last minute, lack of transparency in dealings with faculty and students, reduction of tenured faculty and consolidation or elimination of departmental chairs, directors or heads are just a few of the conditions that USC faculty have been unable to effectively resist without representation. We have no real job security, and in many cases, no clear program for advancement, despite the fact that some of us have been teaching at USC for years or even decades.
USC depends on a large group of highly trained, committed, non-tenure track faculty like us. While our official job titles vary by school and department – Lecturer, Assistant, Associate or Full Professor (Teaching), Adjunct, Visiting Faculty, Professor (Teaching) – we are, all of us, contingent faculty. Therefore, our employment status remains tenuous, which results in our academic freedom being compromised.
For those of us teaching as full-time faculty with year or multi-year contracts, our contracts state that we are not eligible to be considered for tenure, and that non-tenure-track appointments are subject to early termination, while those of us who have semester-to-semester contracts can regularly expect to be unemployed every summer. Regardless of the number of years we’ve been employed by USC, we can never depend on the job security our tenured colleagues enjoy.
And it’s not just job security. As contingent faculty, we’re paid a fraction of what tenured and tenure-track faculty earn – even when teaching the same courses, have reduced access to professional activities, and are disenfranchised from full participation in faculty governance. It is hard to plan one’s life without a clear expectation, much less guarantee, of continued employment. As at-will employees, we lack the pay, benefits and privileges, access to campus resources, and professional growth opportunities our tenure-track colleagues have. Now, USC faculty are standing up for dignity and a voice in our working conditions.
As USC Rossier’s own Delphi Project report “Non-Tenure-Track Faculty in Our Department: A Guide for Departments and Academic Programs to Better Understand Faculty Working Conditions and Necessity of Change” states:
Changes in the composition of the American professoriate toward a mostly contingent workforce are raising important questions about poor working conditions for non-tenure-track faculty and connections between these conditions and student learning outcomes. Numerous studies have found the negative working conditions of these faculty to negatively impact student retention, transfer from two- to four-year institutions, and graduation or completion rates. Growing reliance on non-tenure-track faculty who receive little support and whose working conditions place limits on what they can do to support students is impacting student learning and success. The core of our educational missions is at risk if we do not make changes.
We have been impressed by the gains made by contingent faculty at other private universities through unionization, including American University, Georgetown University, Tufts University, and George Washington University. Forming a union has allowed them to achieve considerable pay increases, improved job security, better processes for teaching assignment, fair and transparent evaluations, access to benefits, routes to advancement, and a platform for their voices to be heard.
The USC Mission is “the development of human beings and society as a whole through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit.” But we the faculty have not seen this pledge borne out. On the contrary, we have witnessed a steady erosion of USC’s commitment to its students and to the Southern Californian community. We believe that unionization allows us to be visible models of our own mission statement for our students.
In addition to organizing at USC, contingent faculty at other California-based colleges – including California College of the Arts, Mills College, and Otis College – have all successfully organized. Faculty across California are coming together with the goal that the contingent academic labor force will cease to be a passive and vulnerable majority workforce for the institutions we serve.
This semester you may be approached by a colleague or by a union organizer. We encourage you to join us in our movement to gain a voice for contingent faculty here at USC and across the nation. For more information on our organizing effort here, visit our website http://facultyforwardla.org
Your Colleagues on the USC Organizing Committee
We, the undersigned, support the right of contingent faculty at the University of Southern California to form their union. We ask that administration remain neutral and not use student tuition funds or other college resources to oppose the unionization effort; and we pledge to speak out against any intimidation or retaliation that may be a result of contingent faculty invoking their right to organize.
Read the petition
145 Alex Zukas Feb 04, 2016 144 Ixchell Reyes USC Jan 18, 2016 143 Herbert Meiselman Medicine Nov 24, 2015 142 Laura Taylor Nov 24, 2015 141 Ian Besler USC Nov 05, 2015 140 Ann Morgan Dornsife Oct 28, 2015 139 Nathaniel Heneghan Oct 27, 2015 138 John D Swain Dornsife Oct 26, 2015 137 Dina Jadallah USC Oct 20, 2015 136 Linzi Juliano Oct 19, 2015 135 Oliver Rizk Oct 16, 2015 134 Meridith Kruse Dornsife Oct 16, 2015 133 Emily Zeamer Los Angeles Oct 09, 2015 132 Tom Buderwitz USC Oct 01, 2015 131 Alexis clark Sep 28, 2015 130 Jan Breidenbach Price School of Public Policy Sep 28, 2015 129 Dave OBrien Cinematic Arts Sep 22, 2015 128 Ava Rose Social Work Sep 19, 2015 127 Trond Sigurdsen USC Sep 15, 2015 126 Andrew Borba USC Sep 07, 2015 125 Maura Brewer Sep 06, 2015 124 Vianey Cabrera Dornsife Sep 04, 2015 123 alex yufik Aug 28, 2015 122 Nicole Maccalla USC Aug 13, 2015 121 Valery Augustin USC Aug 12, 2015 120 Barbara Osborn Annenberg Jul 29, 2015 119 Esther Margulies Architecture Jul 24, 2015 118 Rachel Ward Jul 22, 2015 117 Luis Paulo Oliveira Dornsife Jul 20, 2015 116 Sean Mullin SCA Jul 17, 2015 115 Lauren Murphy Jul 16, 2015 114 Satinder Hawkins Jul 15, 2015 113 Nicole Niederdeppe Rossier Jul 14, 2015 112 JoAnn Turovsky Jul 07, 2015 111 Maura Crowley Dornsife Jul 02, 2015 110 Carla Trinh Jun 26, 2015 109 Chrisshonna Nieva Jun 23, 2015 108 David Balkan SCA Jun 20, 2015 107 Kevin Arks die USC Jun 19, 2015 106 Mary Posatko USC Jun 12, 2015 105 David Brind USC Jun 05, 2015 104 Paul Babin Cinema May 18, 2015 103 John Murray Dornsife May 15, 2015 102 Erika Nanes May 14, 2015 101 Mark Marino Dornsife May 14, 2015 100 Stephanie Bower May 14, 2015 99 William Feuer La Crescenta May 14, 2015 98 Matthew Manson Dornsife May 14, 2015 97 Anne DeSalvo USC May 05, 2015 96 Jody Zellen May 04, 2015