Ten years after joining together as union members for a stronger voice at work, MSEA-SEIU members who work as adjunct professors for the Maine Community College System ratified a new contract providing them with a key victory they’ve been determined to secure since Day 1: Pay parity across all seven campuses by August of 2022.
The new contract runs from Jan. 1., 2020, through Dec. 31, 2022. It includes two retroactive payments, one for the fall of 2019, the other for the spring of 2020.
For the past decade, adjuncts at the Community College System have pushed for pay equity among all seven Community College campuses and called out management for repeatedly trying to justify different per-credit rates on its vague notion of regional costs of living. Adjunct faculty members have argued it’s just plain wrong to pay adjuncts doing the same work differently for equivalent work. They built support for pay parity on each campus and at the State House.
“The geographic location justification for different pay scales quickly fails when you consider that all other employees in the Maine Community College System get the same pay and students pay the same per credit rate, no matter which school they attend,” MSEA-SEIU Member and Union Negotiating Team Member Camilla Lofving told state legislators in 2019 in support of LD 1538, now law, mandating a study of the use of adjuncts in Maine’s public higher education systems.
“Why then is geographic location only considered when it comes to adjuncts, a group of employees that are already so low paid that they often qualify for state and federal programs designed to help people in poverty?” Camilla Lofving asked the legislators. “This practice is fundamentally unfair; the justification offered for it has no basis in fact.”
Working with each other across all seven Community College campuses, MSEA-SEIU members once again made pay equity the focus of their contract campaign.
“We did make some gains with recent contracts, but not enough to bring all adjuncts the same base per credit rate, and so we kept working on this,” Camilla Lofving explained on May 26. “In a wonderful show of solidarity, in the last two contracts, adjuncts on higher paid campuses agreed to lower percentages for their raises in order to boost the pay rates for adjuncts on the lower paid campuses. Yet, the pay parity issue was not going to be solved quickly enough with that method and we needed to push for a faster and more straightforward solution: simply raising the rates on lower paid campuses.”
Continuing, Camilla Lofving said, “The new contract will accomplish pay parity over the next three years. On some campuses, this will result in substantial raises for adjuncts. We reached this goal through perseverance and clearly showing the MCCS how important this issue is. Now that the pay parity issue is solved, we can work further on improving wages, improved job security, and working conditions.”
In addition to securing pay equity and the two retroactive payments, the new contract also provides that adjuncts grandfathered at higher rates shall receive 4 percent raises or the base rates listed in the chart on this page, whichever is higher.
The contract notes compensation is contingent on 3 percent increases in appropriations in FY 21, FY 22 and FY 23.
Under the new contract, adjuncts also are free to seek other employment at colleges without concern of their credit limit.
Members of the Union Negotiating Team are Adjunct Faculty Chapter President Paul Trahan, Chapter Secretary Camilla Lofving and Chapter Treasurer Chad Walls.