Schenectady County Community College's adjunct faculty members have secured their first labor contract, one that promises raises each year to experienced faculty.
The County Legislature on Tuesday unanimously approved the three-year agreement with the Adjunct Faculty Bargaining Unit, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Unit Local 200 that was formed in 2015.
Reaching the agreement involved 17 negotiating sessions over 18 months, according to county Legislator Holly Vellano, C-Rotterdam, chairwoman of the Education and Libraries Committee.
"The outcome is good for the college, and I think good for the adjunct faculty as well," said Legislature Majority Leader Gary Hughes, D-Schenectady.
Adjunct faculty — those who teach on a part-time, per-course basis — aren't unionized at most colleges, but SCCC's board of trustees chose not to oppose the formation of the union when faculty members started talking about it.
Under the agreement, which goes into effect Sept. 1, there will be four tiers of pay, based on a faculty member's level of experience, with the most experienced teachers receiving raises each year. For the coming academic year, pay will range from $775 to $910 per credit hour; in 2018-19, pay will range from $775 to $935 per credit hour; and in 2019-20, from $775 to $954.
There will also be $10,000 per year in professional development funding and $10,000 in tuition benefits available to members, and a grievance procedure is being established.
The community college has about 270 adjunct professors, making up the majority of the faculty.
Across the country, adjunct and other contingent faculty make a fraction of what their tenured full-time teaching colleagues do, and generally don't receive the benefits like health care coverage and pensions that full-time faculty do. The SEIU and other unions have been looking to organize adjuncts.
Siena College in Loudonville is currently involved in a contentious negotiation with its recently formed adjunct faculty union over an initial labor agreement.