Without NTTFA members, it won’t be ‘business as usual’

By Gus Bode

Anita J. Stoner

NTT Faculy Association president

There are three other locals in labor disputes that do not involve tenure.

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Members of the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association, as our name implies, do not receive tenure. We believe we would be more accurately named “Professional Teaching Faculty.” We are central to the university’s core mission.

The NTTFA has about 150 instructors who have earned a “continuing” appointment, a few modest perks if that instructor enters a sixth year such as a $300 a month longevity award; no guarantee of employment because we can still be non-reappointed, with the option to continue to teach for one year; and accrual of 7.2 sick days a year.

To earn continuing status, the NTTFA member must exceed teaching standards. Collective bargaining agreements do take into account academics and students. When students take courses with “continuing” NTTFA professors, legally binding quality control standards have already been in effect. Several other parts of the NTTFA contract reiterate that we must be competent and qualified.

The NTTFA has hundreds of exceptional teaching employees who also must be legally certified in fields such as aviation, K-12 education, speech therapy and early childhood education.

NTTs are skillful people with advanced degrees and real work experience in their  fields. How does one substitute for those qualifications — exceptional teaching, certification, advanced degrees, skills and experience in the field?

The administration’s flip attitude implies that the people currently teaching are not the exceptional educators of an exceptional university, that it’s “business as usual” without us.

We can all live with PR — even if inaccurate — that professors are lazy and greedy. [Insert sarcastic laugh here.]

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We wish we only worked three hours a day. And NTTFA salaries look nothing like those of the 100K+ club, which is, when last I looked, a group filled with many of those “stepped back down to teaching” and/or other administrators.

At a full-time average of $3,000 a month for nine months and therefore under the poverty line, NTTFA members know our place — we are part of the solution to hard economic times, not part of the problem.

Even as the “unpaid closures” took millions from the local economy, the university sent more than $1 million to a marketing firm in Chicago. Alumni and others express disappointment in such actions because it sends a message that SIUC does not have the necessary expertise, “business as usual.”

A recent NTTFA bargaining survey asked one question identical to a question asked a few years ago, and the comparison stats plunged.

More than two-thirds of the respondents indicated as adequate, poor or unacceptable: morale, support  (declining numbers of GAU and Civil Service brethren) or equipment and enough faculty to adequately teach our programs.

Even before bargaining became a “labor dispute,” SIUC has been sending a message that we are only adequate, or worse.

We all look forward to reaching fair collective bargaining agreements as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, please choose carefully what you say or imply about faculty.

Great universities have great faculty. Great universities market themselves.

 

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