LA part-time faculty ratifies union contract

by Nathanael King / Beacon Staff • September 22, 2016

Jennifer Vandever, ELAF-AAUP interim president
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Jennifer Vandever, ELAF-AAUP interim president
Beacon Archives

Most of Emerson’s Los Angeles part-time faculty will receive a salary boost thanks to their recently-formed union’s new contract with the college, according to Jennifer Vandever, the interim president of the union.

The Emerson Los Angeles Faculty  union formed this January through the American Association of University Professors. Members voted 18-1 to ratify the contract last Monday. All but one of the LA faculty members are part-time. 

“There’s some areas where we had to compromise,” Vandever said. “But as far as a first contract goes, we’re very happy.”

Vandever said that over the summer she negotiated with the college along with a bargaining team including a handful of other affiliated faculty, AAUP East Coast organizer and former president of the Boston adjunct union David Kociemba, and AAUP Western Regional Coordinator Jason Elias.

“Emerson College greatly values its affiliated faculty members in Boston and Los Angeles,” the college wrote in a statement to the Beacon. “We are pleased that the negotiations with the newly-formed union... were expeditious and productive.”

The contract, which applies to 20 part-time faculty members and will be in place until June 2020, includes an updated pay scale with cost of living adjustments. 

“[That] means a lot when you’re living in Los Angeles, and paying rent, and putting gas in your car,” Vandever said.

According to the agreement, adjuncts can’t teach more than two courses per semester—with the exception of two faculty members who were already teaching three courses. Vandever said this was one of the major compromises made by the union’s bargaining team.

They conceded on some of their job security goals, such as guaranteed employment longer than two semesters. However, the contract improves medical and dental benefits and mandates better campus security.

The ELAF-AAUP will hold elections for officers in April, Vandever said, but for now she is the interim president. Emerson alumni Julian Higgins and Daniel Viafore will act as vice president and treasurer, respectively. 

"This is an important step for making LA a better experience for students.” Kociemba wrote in a statement to the Beacon. “Classes students crossed the country to take will be taught by the faculty best prepared to teach them, because faculty will have improved job security and a voice in how that campus is run."