Many of you know who I am. I have been a local, statewide, and even at times a national advocate for part-time faculty rights for 15 years. I currently sit on the Oregon Education Association (OEA) Community College Council and beginning August 1st I will be a member of the OEA Board of Directors, the second time I have had that honor. I also have sat on three different bargaining teams for our local, the MHCC Part-time Faculty and Tutor Association (PFTA). I have represented both part-time and full-time faculty and I know something of the current issues concerning the coming strike of full-time faculty.
Many members have asked me what is happening and questions about what rights they have concerning this strike. I would like to share a few things that may help.
First, you have to continue to teach your currently assigned classes. I recommend you assure your students that your class will continue through the end of the term.
Second, PFTA-represented faculty have the right to refuse additional work (classes or non-instructional duties) that would have been done by a striking full-time faculty member, whether it be current work or future work.
Third, you have the right to support striking full-time faculty, the same as the general public, outside the hours and duties of your contracted assignment.
You have the same rights as the public to act in solidarity with full-time faculty. Those rights include wearing buttons or shirts (in or out of class), displaying car signs on campus property, speaking or writing to the MHCC Board, walking the picket line while off duty, speaking in support of striking faculty outside of regular instruction, and volunteering to assist striking full-time faculty. As long as your efforts lie outside of the hours and duties of your contracted employment with the college, they are legal and protected.
As a union leader, I recommend you support the full-time faculty in any way you feel comfortable. No one is asking you to do anything you do not wish to do. I know many of you have a “very full plate” being part-time at Mt Hood and having numerous other work or duties in your lives. But if you can’t do anything else, please smile and say a kind word or two of support to your full-time colleagues when you see them. And just refuse to do any additional duties outside your contracted duties for the college until after this crisis is over and our full-time colleagues are back to work.
And why do I make this recommendation? Those of us who come from a union family or have embraced union values know that this is what you do. You help your union brothers and sisters because they would (or have) done the same for you. You understand that what harms one of us, harms us all. And some of you know that the erosion of the full-time faculty base is the same issue as the abuse of part-time faculty, the same issue we have been fighting for over 30 years.
I will announce very soon times that part-time faculty can meet and discuss these and other issues of interest with each another and myself. Please attend if you can and if you cannot, feel free to email me questions and concerns at email@example.com.
PT Math Instructor
Mt Hood Community College