Suffolk adjunct union enters into contract negotiations with university

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James Bartlett

The back entrance of 73 Tremont St.

A union of Suffolk staff are set to begin adjunct faculty negotiations with Suffolk University for the 2022-2023 year.

The Suffolk Affiliated Faculty-American Association of University Professors (SAF/AAUP) has been unionized since 2009 and advocates for fair treatment of adjunct faculty at Suffolk.

“SAF/AAUP was created by our predecessors to protect fellow part-time professors from arbitrary and unfair labor practices. This has been achieved and in the coming weeks we hope to achieve further economic gains,” said Lawerence Overlan, president of SAF/AAUP and a professor in the political science department at Suffolk.

The union is advocating for a variety of demands, including COVID-19 compensation, summer healthcare benefits and contract security. It is also negotiating for recognition of Senior Lecturer status in the Sawyer Business School, as well as equal pay.

“Senior Status Adjuncts in SBS are paid less than Senior Lecturers in CAS,” the union said in a flyer.

Suffolk spokesperson, Greg Gatlin, said the university is committed to fair and open negotiations.

“The University is committed to bargaining in good faith with the union about a new contract,” Gatlin said.

Kenneth Martin, an adjunct faculty member and photojournalism professor at Suffolk since the 1980s, said the wanted changes are long overdue.

“In my opinion, it’s a human rights thing,” Martin said.

Martin was the first president of SAF/AAUP in 2009, and said its formation was a long awaited step toward equity in higher education. He added that while there are still improvements to be made, there have been steps in the right direction since unionizing.

“We had no protections, there were no rules, really. The university was kind of patriarchal in terms of how they treated their people, you couldn’t really count on anything, you just had to hope you had something for next semester,” said Martin.

Martin said negotiations are a fight for equity, rather than a competition between staff at Suffolk.

“It’s not that it’s us and them, it’s not that it’s adjunct and full-time, it’s just about what is fair and that’s what we’re asking for in general,” said Martin.

Negotiations are planned to continue through June 30 when the current contract is set to end, said Gatlin.

“We support our part-time lecturers as valuable members of our community and look forward to discussing any concerns they may have as part of the contract renewal process,” Gatlin said.

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