By Christie Counts, March 14, 2023
CPP Unit 3 employees have claimed to be working in untenable working conditions that has led Cal Poly Pomona into a state of academic crisis, leading Unit 3 employees to fight for relief by submitting a workload resolution to the CPP Academic Senate.
The Committee for Racial and Social Justice and the committee of the California Faculty Association, Pomona chapter, have proposed a Workload Resolution to demand a change for CPP’s librarians, counselors, lecturers, tenure line faculty, adjunct professors and coaches. Each of the listed Unit 3 faculty say they are underrepresented, placed in a position of little influence and overloaded with responsibilities for which they are not compensated.
This is what happens to all of us,” said Anita Jain, professor in the Ethnic and Women’s Studies Department. “All of us (adjunct faculty) are trying to get that permanent job. And so, we allow ourselves to be exploited.”
Maya Stovall, author of the resolution, chair of the CRSJ, representative of the CFA and Assistant Professor of the CPP Liberal Studies Department sent an email to the Poly Post where she conveyed that Unit 3 employees feel devalued, degraded and ignored by administrators.
“We are burnt out. Our work has been devalued, degraded, and ignored by an apathetic climate that disenfranchises lecturers, who do the majority of instruction yet must travel between campuses to earn enough to survive during historically high inflation,” Stovall wrote.
Within the proposed resolution, there is a request on the redefinition of lecturer faculty workload. Unit 3 lecturers are asking for 75% instruction and 25% service and professional research. Päivi Hoikkala a full-time lecturer in the Department of History affirmed these changes and stated that lecturers are not compensated properly for the increasing number of students, extra mentorship and research conducted in order to advance their own careers.
Hoikkala has worked in the Department of History for CPP since 1977. Much of her career has been spent as a part time lecturer, but when CPP switched from quarters to semesters she took initiative on campus three years ago and became a full-time lecturer. Throughout her time at CPP, she has witnessed what she described as, an overwhelming influx of work on part-time lecturers which has made their endeavors to advance their careers difficult.
Hoikkala explained she has known many part time lecturers that have their classes given and taken away at the last minute causing them to scramble together a living.
“So often, I have known lecturers who taught nine classes a semester just to scrape up a living because their employment is just so uncertain so they have to just take all the classes they can. And then you have to be driving back and forth to the campuses you’re teaching at and ultimately end up with less patience than normal for your students,” said Hoikkala.
Part-time lecturers and adjunct professors often lack the advantages of being full-time faculty such as competitive wages, job security and retirement plans. The American Federation of Teachers conducted a union survey on about 1,900 adjunct faculty. The survey found that while 90% of these educators have at least a master’s degree, 60% make less than $50,000 per year and almost a quarter bring home less than $25,000 annually. This type of salary is below the federal poverty line for a family of four.
Tenure-track faculty are also requesting a “3/3” teaching load, with three weighted teaching units assigned to service and three assigned to professional development and research. Currently, tenure-track faculty are expected to complete their research and professional development on their unpaid time off.
Weighted teaching units are a measure of faculty workload. WTUs are calculated according to course classifications, and the number of in-class hours. Lecturers and tenure-line faculty have zero WTUs assigned to their research, scholarly and creative activities at this time.
“The load is surprising; you have to teach a 4/4 load, four classes in the fall and four classes in the spring then you have service,” said Jain. “The service hits you like a brick, you’re on this committee or on that committee, everyone is asking you to do different things. The load of bureaucratic work is not what you would expect, then you have your research and it’s like you just need time to think.”
The union is also asking for the hiring of sufficient tenure-track librarians and counselors that will align CPP with industry recommendations and California State University best practices. The industry recommended ratio of student to faculty include 1:500 and 1:1000. Currently CPP is double the national average and ranked the lowest out of all the CSU’s.
“Right now, we have about one counselor for every 2,900 students, the range should be 1,500 to 1,000,” said Nicholas Von Glahn, CFA Union president. “So, we’re about nearly twice over what we need as far as our permanent counselors here, we need tenure lines.”
While Unit 3 employees have faced a workload crisis, higher administration has grown and received raises, including 29% raises for the CSU presidents. The university relies heavily on the Unit 3 staff, the resolution seeks to have all their voices be heard and a change to take place.
The first reading of CRSJ’s resolution was endorsed at the CRSJ Committee, CFA-Pomona, and statewide CFA levels and arrived on the CPP Academic Senate floor March 8 and will have the second reading April 5. To learn more, refer to www.calfac.org.
Feature image courtesy of Nicholas Von Glahn
A previous version of this article did not make clear that Maya Stovall did not interview with The Poly Post, rather she was quoted from her email to Unit 3 employees. It has been corrected.
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