9/18/2013: Update from an anon correspondent:
Summary of AEI Situation
AEI Background: A majority of international undergraduate students pass through one American English Institute (AEI) program or another. AEI collaborates with other departments to enhance the international students’ academic success, and to a large degree, the students’ future academic success depends on their success in AEI. Currently, the AEI adjunct faculty—who all have at least a Masters Degree—get paid a floor of about $30k per academic year, working up to 60+ hours per week and do not receive vacation time. Additionally, many faculty don’t have the ability to develop an area of specialty within the context of teaching English because their courses change regularly, often term to term. It’s not uncommon for an adjunct instructor to change rooms during a class or change buildings.
Current crisis: Adjunct faculty, in most recent past practice, have been awarded nine-month contracts for the academic year. However, for our current 2013-14 academic year, adjuncts are reporting that they are being awarded three-month contracts. Additionally, four adjunct faculty did not receive notice of their contract renewal. The lack of communication from AEI administration concerning contracts only compounds this problem. Of the four who did not receive notice of their contracts, the following is true for three of the four non-renewals for whom we have information.
A. The non-renewals were:
1. Without cause or the reasons given were contradictory to evidence
2. Towards the end of summer session, right before the fall session
3. Semi-formally or even informally given by management
4. Outside of the evaluation process
B. At least two of these cases are special in that the faculty members were:
1. Union activists
2. Not given a reason for their non-renewal
C. These faculty had positive evaluations (both student and departmental).
The administration claims to be unable to furnish faculty’s own evaluations to them in a timely manner upon request.
Response to Crisis: The Administration’s argument, when the bargaining team confronted them during bargaining session, was that they wanted to maintain flexibility to ensure that instructors “are committed” to the University of Oregon.
What is commitment, if not someone who: has invested in an advanced degree, who has moved to Eugene from out of state, has commuted one hour each direction every day for five years to teach, has moved their family to Eugene, has devoted 50-60 hours per week for the benefit of the students, community, and the University of Oregon?
Didn’t the admin bargaining team promise to address this in a prior session???
Yes–they said they would address it, that they would make it all right, and no nonsense would happen–BUT IT IS!!! And it is shameful.
These are committed faculty being treated unfairly–and we need to make sure it does NOT HAPPEN.
Maybe someone needs to investigate how AIE treats ALL of the employees there
Bargaining should have stopped until the cases of these colleagues were resolved. That they are now left to twist in the winds of unemployment is shameful. Now that an agreement has been reached and faculty line up for their raises, who is going to remember these dedicated colleagues and the injustice they have suffered? Under the mandate to get the deal done before fall term, they have been thoughtlessly sacrificed to expediency. The likelihood that their wrongs will be addressed and their contracts renewed is bleak, but at the very least, someone needs to find out what the hell is going on at AEI.
The AEI is legendary for its mistreatment of faculty and staff. Human Resources must have an entire file cabinet dedicated to the complaints and grievances that have been filed over the years. Sadly, nothing ever changes—the same leadership is rubber-stamped year after year to commit new abuses. As the gateway for international students, UO apparently so appreciates the out-of-state dollars AEI brings in that it has conferred sacred cow status, rivaled only by the Athletic Department. Things do indeed need to change, but the Department of Linguistics, which oversees AEI, seems to have no interest in rocking the boat. So faculty and staff continue to suffer in a climate of fear, intimidation, and paranoia that only the crew of the Pequod could fully appreciate.
I don’t know what others are thinking on this (I’m interested, though), but I’ve been thinking that the contract merely sets the stage for the important battles to come. Let grievance upon grievance rain down on their heads. There will be screaming and gnashing of teeth. There will be t-shirts and coffee mugs sold. I can’t wait!