Adjunct Council seeks clarity on TRS contribution

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By REBECCA SALINAS

rsalinas191@student.alamo.edu

The Adjunct Faculty Council chair told members Tuesday that he sent a letter to President Robert Zeigler informing him that other Texas colleges are not aware of the rule in the Teacher Retirement System of Texas that requires payment of retirement for adjuncts teaching more than two courses.

The chair, Jerry Townsend, media communications full-time adjunct, said at the Adjunct Faculty Council meeting attended by seven adjuncts that he spoke to Richard Moore, Texas Community College Teachers Association executive director, and Moore said no other colleges in the state are planning to implement the rule that affects faculty teaching more than 7.4 semester hours.

The rule states that adjunct faculty members teaching more than 7.4 hours will have to contribute 6.4 percent of their compensation to TRS, effective spring 2013. In addition, Alamo Colleges must also match the contribution.

Townsend said college leaders or TCCTA staff at the TCCTA Fall Conference for Faculty Leaders Oct. 5-6 in Austin did not know of any rule change concerning adjunct compensation contribution.

He said so far, no colleges in Texas have been contributing to compensation, according to information at the conference.

Zeigler forwarded the letter from Townsend to Linda Boyer-Owens, associate vice chancellor of human resources and organizational development. She said the district will implement the rule change Jan. 1.

Zeigler told Townsend he would send the letter to Chancellor Bruce Leslie.

Townsend said he is still researching the issue, but he does not believe the state will make a dramatic change with only a few months notice.

“That’s not the way state government operates,” Townsend said.

He said he is trying to talk to TRS officials to get more information, but he has not been able to contact anyone yet.

Moore told Townsend he would tell TCCTA lobbyist Beamon Floyd to contact a representative from TRS.

Townsend said he wants to know where Boyer-Owens got her information on the rule.

Zeigler first addressed the issue in an email sent Sept. 27, saying the three options are to hire more adjuncts, keep adjuncts teaching 7.5 or more hours with justification or cut classes. He said the option for dropping classes is the last resort.

Architecture Adjunct Jane Martin said they have already started cutting classes in her department. She said if there is a resolution to the issue later in the year, then it will be too late to change the schedule to adhere to the new rules.

Townsend said if the issue goes “the wrong way,” then the college and district are presenting the image that adjuncts do not matter and they are not willing to pay the extra cost to keep adjuncts teaching 7.5 or more hours.

He said some adjuncts teaching more than 7.4 hours depend on hours because that is how they are making a living, and the ones with more than 7.4 hours are valuable.

“We are the best; that’s why we’re teaching those hours,” Townsend said.

Gustavo Valadez-Ortiz, English as a second language, foreign language and philosophy adjunct, said the problem will be inexperienced adjuncts hired, taking the place ofwexperienced adjuncts.

Townsend said he estimates that the cost to keep adjuncts teaching more than 7.4 hours would be $300,000 across the district or $100,000 across the college.

“We’re not talking about big money. We’re talking about lives, livelihoods; we’re also talking about the signal the college and district are sending to the adjunct faculty,” Townsend said. “That’s the most severe threat to adjuncts.”

He said chairs can look at evaluations to decide which adjuncts to assign, but it is still unethical to keep valuable adjuncts in some departments while replacing others in departments with larger pools of available adjuncts.

He said he requested to be on the Alamo College’s board of trustees agenda for the October meeting, but he was not able to make the deadline. He said the board will not have a meeting in November, so it will have to wait until December.

He said he wants adjuncts to provide him personal stories of how the rule will change their lives. He said the board will be able to see how the rule change affects people’s lives.

“It will touch them with human stories,” Townsend said.

Townsend said he wants a resolution to the issue because “people’s jobs are at stake.”

Photography Adjunct Desiree Schanding suggested adjuncts email Zeigler with any questions or concerns.

Townsend said he is going to wait until he gets more information to send a memo to adjuncts.

For more information, call Townsend at 210-486-1780.

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