When it comes to salary and health benefits, location makes all the difference for adjunct faculty members at the University of Massachusetts. At UMass Amherst and UMass Boston, adjunct faculty make between 18 to 34 percent more than their UMass Lowell counterparts. They also have health benefits.
That’s why UMass Lowell adjunct faculty will hold a protest outside the UMass Club in Boston Wednesday to call for pay equity and health benefits in the new round of contract negotiations with the university.
“Adjunct faculty at UMass Amherst and Boston can qualify for full benefits, pension and retirement,” said Tess George, spokeswoman for the UMass Lowell Union of Adjunct Faculty. “Faculty at UMass Lowell, who do the exact same work, are paid significantly less and get no benefits.”
At the Amherst and Boston campuses, entry-level, part-time lecturers earn $6,500 per course. At UMass Boston, associate lecturers earn a minimum of $5,000 for each course. But at UMass Lowell, adjunct faculty earn a minimum rate of about $4,400 per course, according to the union. They aren’t eligible for health benefits, which those at Amherst and Boston qualify for if they teach at least two courses.
The move comes amid a wave of university faculty protests in the past few months. In most cases, such as at Boston and Tufts universities, adjunct faculty are voting to unionize. But the UMass Lowell adjunct faculty are already union members. They’re protesting during the retirement dinner for outgoing Provost Ahmed Abdelal at the UMass Club to advocate for pay equity to their counterparts at the Amherst and Boston campuses.
“UMass Lowell’s adjunct faculty members, who are part-time instructors who teach 26 percent of courses on our campus, are an important and valued group. The university is negotiating in good faith with members of the adjunct faculty union and their representatives. To date, the university has met with the union 30 times and is scheduled to meet with them again. We have offered the adjunct faculty an increase in pay that our research shows is highly competitive, especially for this region, which the union rejected. We continue to hold discussions with the union in the hope we can reach a consensus that is both academically and financially feasible for the university and its students. UMass Lowell has already settled its collective-bargaining agreements with other labor unions.”
The university has met with the union 30 times, and is scheduled to meet with them again, Christine Gillette, a spokeswoman for UMass Lowell, said.
“We have offered the adjunct faculty an increase in pay that our research shows is highly competitive, especially for this region, which the union rejected,” she said in a statement. “We continue to hold discussions with the union in the hope we can reach a consensus that is both academically and financially feasible for the university and its students. UMass Lowell has already settled its collective-bargaining agreements with other labor unions.”
The protest begins at 3:30 p.m., and is a one-day action, though George said the adjunct faculty members will continue to advocate for themselves as the contract negotiations continue.
“We’ve heard many times from administration that they value contributions of adjunct faculty,” George said. “We’d like to see that reflected in our contract.”