FAQ regarding SEIU-GWU
Question: For how long has there been a collective bargaining agreement between SEIU and George Washington University?
Answer: SEIU and GWU are currently in their third contract. The first contract went into effect on January 1, 2008 and continued through June 30, 2010. The next one went into effect July 27, 2010 and continued through June 30, 2012. The current agreement went into effect August 11, 2012 and continues through June 30, 2014.
Question: Which GWU faculty members are covered by the agreement?
Answer: The agreement covers what are known at GWU as “regular part-time faculty,” who are paid a salary, and part time faculty who are compensated by the course. Those faculty who are compensated by the course appear to be similar to the part-time faculty at Northeastern University.
Question: For those faculty who are compensated by the course, how has their compensation changed since there has been a union contract?
Answer: The chart below sets forth the historical per-course rates (for standard 3 or 4 credit courses) that GWU has been obligated to pay faculty who are compensated by the course since there has been a union contract. The rate that went into effect during Fall 2012 remains the effective rate through June 30, 2014.
No Terminal Degree
Effective January 1, 2008
Effective Fall, 2010
Effective Fall, 2012
To summarize, for the 6.5 year period beginning January 1, 2008 and running through June 30, 2014, the per course rate will increase by a total of $230 for faculty with terminal degrees and $200 for faculty without terminal degrees. In both cases, this amounts to a total increase of 6% over 6.5 years, or less than 1% annually.
Also, non-standard courses are paid at lower rates set forth in the contract.
Question: Does the contract provide additional compensation for work that faculty members do outside of the classroom in order to prepare for class?
Answer: No. The per course compensation rate is all-inclusive.
Question: How do the rates in the GWU contract compare with course rates that Northeastern University pays to its part-time faculty?
Answer: In Northeastern’s colleges that focus on the traditional student population, compensation rates for a standard, semester-based 3 or 4 credit course typically start between $5,232 and $8,000, depending on the discipline.
It is more difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison in the College of Professional Studies because many courses are offered on a quarter-based system. We have always proceeded from the assumption that the teaching load associated with a quarter-based course amounts to approximately 75% of that associated with a semester based course. For undergraduate courses in CPS, our rates range from $750 -- $918 per credit for a standard 3 or 4 credit course. When you convert the GWU non-terminal degree rate, which is the most appropriate comparison, to a quarter-based rate, the range is $656 -- $875 per credit for a standard 3 or 4 credit course.
Question: Do part-time faculty members at GWU receive health insurance?
No. The union has negotiated three consecutive contracts at GWU, and none of those contracts have provided for health insurance for faculty compensated by the course.
Question: If there is no health insurance at GWU, what benefits do those faculty who are compensated by the course receive?
Answer: According to the contract, faculty who are compensated on a per course basis can participate in the University’s supplemental retirement plan, if they are eligible under the terms of the plan, and they have the opportunity to participate in GWU’s SmartBenefits program on a pre-tax basis. The contract also says they are eligible to take medical leaves of absence “as applicable under the Family Medical Leave Act.” But FMLA leave for eligible employees is required by law, regardless of the collective bargaining agreement.
Question: How do the benefits in the GWU contract compare with the benefits Northeastern University provides to its part-time faculty?
Answer: Similar to our compensation rates, we believe the benefits we provide to our part-time faculty are clearly better than those in the GWU contract. As members of the Northeastern community, part-time faculty are eligible for a wide range of benefits, including the following:
- Basic retirement plan. All part-time faculty members are eligible to participate in Northeastern University’s basic retirement plan on the same terms and conditions as other part-time employees in accordance with the terms of the basic retirement plan. Generally, faculty are eligible to participate in the plan after completing two years of service in which they complete 1,000 or more hours of service per year. Northeastern provides a 10% contribution to eligible faculty who participate in the plan, provided the faculty member contributes 5% of eligible pay.
- Supplemental retirement plan. All faculty members are eligible to participate in the supplemental retirement plan in accordance with the terms of the supplemental retirement plan. Faculty members are eligible to participate in this plan upon their date of hire at Northeastern. This plan allows faculty to contribute pre-tax income toward their retirement.
- Tuition benefits for part-time faculty, spouses and dependents. After they have taught for six terms, part-time faculty are eligible for a tuition benefit to cover one course per term (up to a maximum of three course hours) in a term in which they have been assigned to teach. This benefit may be transferred to a spouse or same sex spousal equivalent. In the event a faculty member is unable to use the tuition benefit during the term in which he or she is teaching, the faculty member may use the benefit in the following term. Northeastern also provides a scholarship to the dependent children of part-time faculty members who are currently employed and have at least ten years of service. That scholarship must be used during a term in which the faculty member is teaching. The scholarship is one-fourth of the standard tuition charge for full-time students, and up to four credit hours per term for part-time students, in programs leading to a degree in any of Northeastern’s colleges or graduate schools, up to and including the master's degree.
- Bookstore discounts. Faculty are eligible for discounts on books and other merchandise at the Northeastern bookstore.
- Discounted tickets for Northeastern and Boston area events. Faculty may purchase discounted tickets to Northeastern athletic events as well as local museums, theatre performances and other events in Boston.
- Discounted recreation facility memberships. Faculty may join the Marino Recreation Center for a highly competitive annual fee. The Marino Center offers state-of-the-art exercise equipment, a walking/jogging track, sauna and aerobics classes. Marino Center Membership also includes access to the Cabot Center and Badger & Rosen SquashBusters Center.
- Parking. Faculty may purchase parking permits to park on campus at rates well below the market rate for parking in Boston.
Question: What does the GWU contract provide for professional development
Answer: The first two agreements between SEIU and GWU did not provide for any professional development benefit. In the third agreement, GWU committed a total of $15,000 to a professional development fund for fiscal year 2013. The maximum amount a faculty member can receive from the fund is $600.
Question: How does Northeastern support professional development for part-time faculty?
Answer: The University’s Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through Research supports all faculty members interested in improving their teaching. Part-time faculty members may also elect to participate in the intellectual life of their home departments, programs and colleges. Some departments and colleges elect to support part time faculty with unit-based development funds. Some departments and colleges offer other opportunities specifically directed toward part-time faculty members. For example, in the College of Professional Studies, part-time faculty are invited to participate in a range of professional development activities, including a day-long series of workshops in August, a half-day series of workshops in January, webinars, residencies, and special topics lead by full-time faculty and staff in meetings. Professional development opportunities are designed and facilitated by faculty and staff.
Question: Are the GWU
faculty who are covered by the contract required to pay union dues?
Answer: With certain limited exceptions, all covered faculty members are required to either join the union and pay union dues, or pay an agency service fee to the union as a condition of employment. An agency service fee is a payment to the union that reflects the cost of administering the collective bargaining agreement and representation by the union. It is usually very close in amount to full union dues.
Question: What do you mean when you say the faculty at GWU have to either pay union dues or an agency service fee “as a condition of employment?”
Answer: It means that if a faculty member refuses to pay, then the union can demand that he/she be fired. It is called “Union Security” and there is a specific contract article addressing Union Security.
Question: How much are union dues?
Answer: The amount of the dues the union charges are not set forth in the contract, but we are aware of at least two figures that have been stated publicly about them. First, in the most recent Form LM-2 Annual Report the union filed with the U.S. Department of Labor on December 14, 2012 for the period October 1, 2011-September 30, 2012, the union stated that its regular dues were $26/pay check. However, in a post on Washington City Paper’s website on January 19, 2012, the union’s director of research and strategic planning was reported to have contested that figure, contending instead that the dues were $29/month.
Question: How does the union collect the dues?
Answer: For those faculty members who provide written authorization, GWU deducts the dues/fees directly from their pay and remits them to the union. Faculty who do not authorize such deductions must pay the dues/fees directly to the union.
Question: Are there any other fees that must be paid to the union?
Answer: Based on the contractual language, it appears the union also requires faculty members to pay an initiation fee. It is not clear how much the initiation fee is.
Question: What kind of job protection does the contract provide for faculty who are compensated on a per course basis?
Answer: The contract provides that faculty members who teach on a per course basis and who have taught the same course for a minimum of 4 semesters within 4 academic years will receive only “good faith consideration” for reappointment to teach the same course, provided it is offered by GWU within one academic year of the faculty member’s most recent appointment and GWU, in its discretion, decides that the course will be taught by a faculty member within the SEIU bargaining unit.
Under the contract, “good faith consideration” means GWU can deny or cancel a faculty member’s re-appointment in any number of circumstances, including:
- Cancellation of a course due to under-enrollment, as determined by the University;
- Poor performance of a faculty member;
- Elimination or downsizing of a department or program;
- Creation of a full-time position that absorbs the course(s) taught by a faculty member who is compensated on a per-course basis; and
- Other bona fide reasons.
The contract also specifically states, “Decisions regarding who is taught, what is taught, how it is taught and who does the teaching involve academic judgment and shall be made at the sole discretion of [GWU].”
Question: How much advance notice must GWU give a faculty member of his/her appointment?
Answer: According to the contract, GWU must provide notice of appointment 4 weeks in advance of the start of the course.
Question: If a faculty member’s appointment is canceled, what does the contract provide?
Answer: If GWU cancels the appointment less than 21 calendar days before the first day of classes (or less than 10 days before the start of a summer course), then the affected faculty member receives a course reduction fee that is 20% of the compensation the faculty member would have received for the course, provided the faculty member actually suffers a loss of compensation as a result of the cancellation.
Question: What kind of “voice” does the contract provide for faculty members?
Answer: The contract provides for a labor-management committee consisting of 5 members designated by the union and 5 members designated by GWU. According to the contract, the labor management committee must meet once per semester and may make recommendations on a range of issues. The contract further provides, “[GWU] shall retain the final authority with respect to adopting recommendations made by the Committee.”
Question: If I want to review the SEIU-GWU collective bargaining agreement for myself, where can I find a copy?
Answer: We have posted the SEIU-GWU collective bargaining agreement here: http://www.northeastern.edu/part-timeinfo/.