On Monday, February 11, 2013, Academic Vice President Tom Hamel announced to a meeting of department chairs that adjuncts would be limited to 6 credit hours of teaching in Fall 2013 so that the college could avoid paying for health care for them under the "Shared Responsibility" provision of the Affordable Health Care Act which goes into effect January 2014. Since more than 200 adjuncts generally teach over 6 credit hours during a Fall or Spring Semester there was great concern about the financial impact of these cuts. About 100 adjuncts, most of whom would face cuts, answered the call by the AFA to appear at the regularly scheduled Board of Trustee meeting February 19, 2013 to protest the cuts.
Just prior to the meeting the College released a 6 page memo authored by the Academic VP and his Deans outlining the policy in detail. After much thought the College realized that the simplistic formula would neither meet muster of the AFA-OCC contract or fully protect the college against having to pay for health care for some adjuncts. Instead they now instituted an equally simplistic policy calling for a 21 credit hour maximum total for the calendar year 2013. While 100 adjuncts who would not possibly have been eligible for required ACA health care were spared cuts in the Fall, the other 100 would be cut more deeply losing hours in the Summer as well as the Fall. Many of these adjuncts had taught 30 hours per year, some as much as 36. Thus these faculty will be docked over $10,000 per year because they might want health care. It should be noted that these faculty have many hours because they are the most critical and least easily replaced faculty at the College.
With the overflow crowd, which prevented even top College Administrators to find seating, the Board changed their normal agenda to allow us to speak first.
Barbara Dayton, AFA President explained to the Board why we were here. Then 7 adjuncts addressed the board explaining the hardships they would face under the cuts. Several also explained that the health care that would have been provided was vital. A common theme was that adjuncts would have to either leave the college completely for other jobs or reduce their commitment to the college and students. For a more detailed description of these comments see here .
A student spoke complaining about resulting cuts in programs. Further the student pointed out that the college was not following its own Strategic Plan which called for the college "to take this 'force that urges us to ally, to affiliate, to enter into mutual relationships, to take strength, and to grow through cooperative behavior.'"
Three Department Chairs and the full time faculty union president spoke of damage this policy would do to the curriculum, students and continuing smooth operation of the instructional mission of the college.
The College President Margaret Lee and the Board listened politely to what they heard. The President made remarks about how concerned she was about the possible impact but firmly denied that the policy, which had been delivered in print form to the entire faculty that afternoon, existed.
The Board Chairman made some somewhat conciliatory remarks and then invited us to leave, which most of us did. The Board's mood lightened considerably as the College architects went into a glowing description of the landscaping that would be done outside the new Science building which would cost far more than adjunct faculty health care. The board seemed to miss the irony that 75% of science courses are taught by adjuncts whose courses would be cancelled by the new, non-existent, policy.
The Adjunct faculty, however, was energized by the rally and will continue to press for this grotesque policy to be overturned. And to look for new jobs at a college that values its faculty and educational mission more than its shrubbery.