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Part-time Faculty Request to Join Existing Union

September 28, 2015

For more information, contact:
Boston: David Kociemba, President, Affiliated Faculty of Emerson College; 508-566-1085

Los Angeles: Jennifer Vandever; 323-309-3239

Faculty at Emerson College’s Los Angeles campus seek the same treatment as their counterparts at Boston campus.

LOS ANGELES--On Friday, part-time faculty at the Los Angeles campus of Emerson College wrote to college president Lee Pelton requesting recognition for all part-time faculty at Emerson LA to become a part of an existing union of part-time faculty at Emerson College. Part-time faculty at the college’s main campus in Boston are represented in collective bargaining by the Affiliated Faculty of Emerson College, which is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors (AFEC-AAUP). An overwhelming majority of part-time faculty at Emerson LA have signed cards indicating support for joining AFEC-AAUP.

Faculty at the Emerson LA campus teach the same students, offer classes for credits towards the same degrees, and are employed by the same institution as the members of AFEC at the Boston campus. Faculty in Los Angeles merely seek the same treatment as part-time faculty in Boston.

"The Emerson LA program benefits from an incredibly accomplished and dedicated faculty who care a great deal about the students' experiences here in Los Angeles," explains Jennifer Vandever, who has taught in the Los Angeles program for 14 years. "It comes down to a basic issue of fairness. We're doing the same work as our colleagues in Boston and believe we should receive the same compensation and benefits."

Indeed, Emerson LA relies heavily on part-time instructors. 90% of its twenty faculty members are part-time, compared with 56% at Emerson's Boston campus and the national average of 48%. In addition to teaching classes, Emerson LA's faculty participates in devising curriculum, provides outreach to the Los Angeles creative/intellectual community and participates in long-term institutional planning. The Emerson LA faculty was a significant contributor to the success of Emerson College's 2014 move from its Burbank location to a state-of-the-art $110 million facility on Sunset Boulevard.

“Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions,” says David Kociemba, the president of AFEC and an adjunct professor at the Boston campus. “When a faculty member is working at two or three different employers and still struggling to make ends meet, that inevitably means there’s less time for mentoring, there’s less time to meet with students, there’s less time to participate in campus events that make colleges into communities.”

Emerson College has had a Los Angeles presence since 1986.  Students take academic classes and perform internships primarily in entertainment, communications, publishing, and marketing. Emerson LA typically has a student body of 150-200 students per semester (Fall & Spring). Tuition for the semester in Los Angeles is $19,152.  Emerson LA faculty members teach one to three classes per semester at the rate of $5515/course (for the first five years) to $7795/course for faculty who have taught for 21+ years. Currently the longest serving part-time faculty member has taught at Emerson LA for 18 years.

“Our fight is one small piece of a much larger fights that students will graduate into: this is the contingency of the American worker, not just the contingency of the American professor,” Kociemba said.##

Publication Date: 
Monday, September 28, 2015