Monday, September 07, 2009

A Voice from the Other Half: Montgomery College Part-Time Faculty Member Speaks

By Victoria Baldassano.

As a part-time professor who has taught English at Montgomery College since the fall of 2005, I have mixed emotions following the Board of Trustees decision to remove President Brian K. Johnson from office. If the charges against Dr. Johnson prove true, placing him on leave with pay through June seems a high price to pay for his departure.

But another disturbing fact is that the part-time professors, who outnumber the full time faculty by more than 2-to-1 and teach 45 percent of college courses, were completely left out of the decision making process. The college administration and full-time faculty communicated throughout the investigation - from the no-confidence vote to the submission of findings to the Board of Trustees - all without any input from the part time faculty.

Unfortunately, this is symptomatic of a much larger problem at the college involving treatment of its part-time professionals. We have no job security, no benefits, no voice in faculty governance, and are paid two to three times less than our full-time counterparts for teaching the same courses. To address this disparity, part-time faculty voted overwhelmingly last year to form a union with SEIU Local 500.

But under Dr. Johnson, the college administration has prolonged the negotiations over our first union contract for more than a year. As a member of the bargaining team, I can say we’ve made significant progress in addressing many of our key concerns, but have yet to resolve the critical issue of just compensation. Our goal is to gradually move in the direction of pay equity – equal pay for our teaching responsibilities. While we recognize that the full timers have other duties, including committee work and curriculum development, in the classroom we perform the same work under the same expectations.

Now that Dr. Johnson is gone, we urge the interim President, Hercules Pinkney, the Board of Trustees, and the college administration, to engage us as professionals without which the college could not function. Let’s start building a culture of respect at Montgomery College that values all members of the college community.