HCC Adjunct Professors Bargaining for a Fair Contract
Hillsborough County Young Democrats support the efforts of adjunct professors at Hillsborough Community College to negotiate a fair contract with college administration. HCYD Secretary Bradley L’Herrou attended their bargaining session on Friday, November 17. “Administration representatives were acting in bad faith,” he said. “It seemed like a normal negotiation at first, but it became clear over time that they were wasting adjuncts’ time in an effort to give them nothing.”
Adjunct professors at HCC make about $2,000 for each 3-credit course. With a full load of five courses in the fall semester and another five in spring, that means adjuncts working full-time hours are earning $20,000 a year — sometimes less. HCC adjuncts, unionized through SEIU Florida Public Service Union, estimate that 65 percent of classes (or more) at HCC are taught by adjunct professors.
At the recent bargaining session, HCC adjuncts pushed the college administration to put vague offers of wage increases into writing. Although they had asked for a written proposal at the previous session, no such proposal was prepared by HCC or by Mark Levitt, the attorney hired to represent HCC during bargaining. The union, on the other hand, brought a packet full of changes based on previous negotiation.
After the adjunct union pushed further for a written offer, it became clear that the administration officials present did not have the authority to make such an offer. Administration representatives had also not consulted with anyone who had such authority since the last session. After pressure from adjuncts to make a written offer, the attorney hired by HCC administration to conduct negotiations wrote down the only raise he was authorized to make: zero dollars.
“When someone sits across the table from you to make a deal, and they reveal — after hours of negotiation — that they have no authority to make that deal, you should be suspicious that they are not negotiating in good faith.” said L’Herrou. “When it becomes clear that they have not brought your request for a written proposal to anyone in a position to authorize it, you should be certain they’re not negotiating in good faith.”
“HCC is not paying an attorney hundreds of dollars an hour to negotiate with their adjunct professors,” emphasized L’Herrou, “HCC is paying an attorney hundreds of dollars an hour to waste adjuncts’ time in order to avoid any new contract.”