Monday, November 16, 2009

SEIU Local 500 Reaches First Contract with Montgomery College

This concludes nearly two years of organizing and bargaining. Following is the press release from SEIU Local 500.


Anna Oman, Communications Director
(301) 740-7123

Monday, November 16, 2009

ROCKVILLE (Nov 16) -- Late last week, part-time faculty leaders settled a historic first contract with Montgomery College. The contract, which must now be ratified by the part-time faculty and Board of Trustees, is the culmination of more than two years of organizing and negotiations by the part-timers, who teach nearly half of all classes at the College and who are represented by SEIU Local 500.

"We're pleased with the agreement," explains Victoria Baldassano, part-time professor of English at Montgomery College and member of the SEIU Local 500 bargaining committee. "We were able to reach agreement with the College on the major points of concern for our fellow part-time faculty – some improvement in compensation, job security and a new commitment to working together to address issues like pay inequity and lack of benefits. More than that, though, we're formalizing our role in the academic community here at Montgomery College. What began as a few part-time faculty members, who knew we deserved better, has grown into a movement. Together we're changing the status quo and standing up for ourselves and for the students who depend on us."

While its details are being withheld pending ratification, the contract allows for a modest salary improvement, higher course-load limits for part-time faculty, greater job security, and improved assurances of reappointment. The contract also creates committees to review, and formulate recommendations for addressing, pay inequity between full-time and part-time faculty for in-classroom instruction, as well as to explore health insurance options for part-time professors.

"This first contract is a strong signal that the College is beginning to recognize the value of the contribution that its part-time faculty to make to the excellence of the institution," said Dan Moskowitz, fellow part-time professor in the Math Department and bargaining committee member. "We have long known that our students can't receive first-class instruction when the people teaching half of all Montgomery College courses are treated as second-class citizens. There's much work to be done, but we believe this contract is a strong foundation to build upon."

Part-time faculty voted overwhelmingly to join together with SEIU Local 500 in June 2008.

Merle Cuttitta, President of SEIU Local 500, welcomed the news, saying, "I want to congratulate the Montgomery College part-time faculty members. Their dedication and hard work has paid off in a solid first contract. We are delighted that these hard working men and women are a part of the Local 500 family. The union's commitment to excellence in public service and life-long learning is exemplified in the part-time faculty of Montgomery College. We see their first contract as another important step in building a movement of part time faculty in our region."

Service Employees International Union Local 500 represents 18,000 women and men working in education, public services, community services and child care in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Local 500 members serve the public at the Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children, The George Washington University, Head Start organizations, family child care centers across Maryland, National Children’s Center, Oxfam International, Public Citizen, and the United States Student Association.