Since Trump won in November, I knew we (adjunct/contingents) were screwed, but to get at the full degree of just where things would go, it took me to see the latest proposal being pushed out there regarding Trump and federal employees to get the full searing sense of what the outcome might look like.
Understand, that it was a given that Trump, whose own record with unions is deplorable at best, would not only seek to put an end to public employee union agency fees ala the Friedrichs case that was halted with the death of Antonin Scalia last year, but, in a nod to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, will seek out National “Right-to-Work” Legislation.
It is also clear, in his railing against “regulations,” that on-the-job worker protections will be seriously rolled back.
But what Trump is truly after is the very notion of worker’s rights, or anything that has to do remotely with the notion of collective bargaining.
Just introduced, the “Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency” Act (H.R. 6278), and sponsored by Todd Rokita (Republican, Indiana 4th District), seeks to do the following, and here I quote for the AFL-CIO Action Network:
- Completely change the federal pay system, and prohibits all pay raises — including annual pay raises — unless you get a 4 or 5 out of 5 performance rating.
- Make all new federal workers “at will,” meaning they can be fired without explanation.
- Allow immediate suspension for current workers for performance or conduct and only ten days for appeal.
- Eliminate official time, so that union representatives can no longer work to protect your pay, your benefits or your job during the work day.
Read the bill for yourself
In case you don’t get it, the passage of such a bill would have trickle down effects. If you can make all federal workers “at will” employees, why not all public employees, and in particular teachers?
Consider that the first provision effectively ends the concept of a COLA, or cost-of-living allowance, so as things get more expensive, your salary may not rise, unless you toady well, or are like that shiny new penny to your evaluator or administrator.
With the second provision, say goodbye to not only tenure, but ultimately the push for priority re-hire rights for Adjunct-Contingent faculty. And understand, this is not just a job issue. Tenure was created to serve as a protection which is at the heart of Higher Education: Academic Freedom.
Imagine, while you’re on vacation over the Summer being told you’re terminated, only to find out you missed the appeal window, because you were unaware. Further, consider that if, even at a single institution, there were just 10-20 cases in a given term, your grievance team would likely be overwhelmed, especially considering they couldn’t do any union work during the day.
And by the way adjuncts, over the past few years dealing with grievance, I’ve seen a number of these cases, as many administrators like to use the “Summer exit plan” to get rid of what they deem as “pesky adjuncts.” They have and will be coming after you.
Number four on the list is effectively a union killer. If you read the bill, it calls for the prohibition of any union activity using, and I quote “any Government property (including office space or computers.” This means, if you have a complaint, you can’t even email me (a union rep) from the office, or use the school email to do so. We also couldn’t meet with you on campus.
You say this is unconstitutional, and a violation of our first amendment rights. Well, now that’s determined by the Supreme Court, whose immediately future justices will be chosen by none other than our Union-hating President Trump.
If there has never been a time for adjuncts, teachers, public employees, and workers in general to not stand up and resist and resist loudly, this is it.
Here’s a first step to take, but it’s not enough.
Adjuncts need to publicly rally on all Campuses to speak our cause and the cause of workers in general. For those of you on other campuses, mass Spring action is not only called for, it’s essential.
Adjunct Action Day At Southwestern College and in the San Diego Community College District is Wednesday, February 22nd. You can bet this will be part of the discussion.
A Good Adjunct