(May 1, 2013)
The purpose of this factsheet is to provide some basic information about the PLU faculty and the current process that is underway before the National Labor Relations Board.
The Issues Before the NLRB
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is presently considering a petition filed on behalf of some of our contingent (i.e., non-tenure-track) faculty to form a collective bargaining unit. Three federal court decisions raise very serious doubts as to whether the NLRB has jurisdiction over PLU, and the NLRB at the national level is considering whether to adopt the reasoning of these federal court decisions. We agree with the standards laid down by the federal courts that indicate the current NLRB position probes too deeply into the religious character of the institution. PLU has asked that the jurisdiction issue be decided before any other decisions are made.
There are also important questions to be settled regarding which contingent faculty should be included in any possible eventual collective bargaining unit given the great diversity of the manner in which we employ contingent faculty. These “community of interest” issues are not trivial, and we have laid out the details for the regional NLRB so they can better understand the many different and diverse categories of contingent faculty. We expect these issues may eventually be discussed at the national level as well.
Why Do We Employ Contingent Faculty?
We employ contingent faculty to cover sabbatical leaves, provide selected portions of the curriculum, cover administrative release time that is granted to deans, chairs and program directors, and meet short-term enrollment demands so that we can better serve the needs of our students by helping them get the courses they need in a timely way.
Who Are the PLU Faculty and What Are They Paid?
The faculty of Pacific Lutheran University form a community of first-rate scholars who are passionate about teaching and who serve the higher educational needs of our students. They consist of tenure-line faculty and contingent faculty.
Tenure-line Faculty (as of September 1, 2012)
We have 211 tenure-line faculty: 149 are tenured, 62 not yet tenured. At any given time, 20-30 tenured faculty are away on sabbatical and other leaves. Salaries across all ranks and disciplines range from $52,000 to $125,000 per academic year. In addition to their teaching duties, tenure-line faculty are expected to be fully engaged in scholarship and in service to the university.
Contingent Faculty for the 2012-13 Academic Year
The salary range for contingent faculty varies by academic department and depends on the highest degree achieved and the person’s experience. The Faculty Assembly long ago adopted policies that specify the roles that contingent faculty have in our faculty governance system. Any changes to those policies would have to be made by the Faculty Assembly, not by the
For contingent faculty the term “full-time” means they teach six courses per year. The Faculty Handbook (adopted by the Faculty Assembly) makes it clear there are no formal scholarship expectations for contingent faculty. However, full-time and part-time contingent faculty with benefits are expected to take part in service (usually at the department level). The Faculty Handbook specifies that each department may determine for itself how it wishes to involve contingent faculty in their department activities.
In the current academic year, contingent faculty are in the following groupings:
• 39 are full-time faculty with benefits. They have voice and vote in the Faculty Assembly.
o Salary Range: $32,951 - $101,000
• 39 are part-time faculty with benefits. They generally teach 3-5 courses per year, although a few are engaged in private music instruction as senior lecturers. They have voice (not vote) in the Faculty Assembly. Their salary will depend on their teaching load.
o Salary Range: $11,016 (for someone paid on an hourly basis for private music instruction) - $61,557
•66 are part-time faculty without benefits. They generally teach one or two courses per academic year. They have voice (not vote) in the Faculty Assembly. Their salary will depend on their teaching load.
o Salary Range: $4,200 - $6,500 per 4-credit course
•32 are part-time faculty paid on an hourly basis for private music instruction. They do not receive benefits. They have voice (not vote) in the Faculty Assembly.
o Hourly rate: $51/hour. Total compensation will depend on the number of students enrolled in private music lessons.
Who Does the Teaching at PLU?
Unlike many universities where most of the teaching is done by part-time faculty, at PLU the vast majority of student credit hours are taught by tenure-line faculty and full-time contingents. For the 2011-12 academic year (the most recent year for which data are complete), the teaching responsibility among faculty was as follows:
A total of 95,600 student-credit hours were taught in 2011-12.
• 83.6% were taught by full-time faculty
67.6% by tenure-line faculty
16.0% by full-time contingent faculty
• 7.8% were taught by part-time faculty with benefits
• 7.7% were taught by part-time faculty without benefits
• 0.9% were taught as private hourly music instruction
Ongoing Activities to Address the Concerns of Contingent Faculty
The Division of Humanities began work last fall on a “Statement of Principles and Best Practices Relating to Contingent Faculty” and adopted that Statement on March 8. On April 8, all PLU faculty were asked by the provost for their feedback on that Statement, specifically whether they thought the Statement should be extended university wide and whether they had any suggestions for amendments. The Statement is available on the Provost’s website under Documents and Forms, Faculty Related Policies and Guidelines. The full set of results and comments will be given to the Faculty Governance Committee and a special Contingent Faculty Task Force appointed by the provost earlier this spring.
Many of the proposed changes would require Faculty Assembly approval. The Faculty Assembly of PLU is responsible for critically important aspects of the university's mission and shares leadership and management responsibilities with administrators.
The Months Ahead
The local NLRB hearing process has concluded and the matter is likely to go before the NLRB in Washington, D.C. While the NLRB considers the complex issues regarding jurisdiction and community of interest, we will continue to fulfill our educational mission. We will complete the semester, celebrate our graduates of the Class of 2013, and prepare to welcome the Class of 2017 who will be joining us in the fall.
Our Faculty and Our Mission
The faculty of Pacific Lutheran University form a community of first-rate scholars who are passionate about teaching and who serve the higher educational needs of our students. Respect and fairness are at the heart of what we do at PLU, and the concerns of contingent faculty are being heard. PLU has deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, and our heritage includes a dedication to critical inquiry, artistic pursuit, and academic freedom. For over 120 years, our faculty have educated our students in accordance with our mission, values and heritage, and as they have done so, we have treated all faculty and staff with respect and fairness.
Our mission is to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care -- for other people, for their communities, and for the earth. We apply this standard of care to our employees, and will continue our current work to address the needs of contingent faculty and all employees.
Steven P. Starkovich, Provost