EFC pushes equal pay for lab, lecture hours

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Committee ranks district next to last in lab hour pay.

Kimberly Caballero

kcaballero3@student.alamo.edu

Executive Faculty Council continues to advocate for lab hours taught by faculty to count as full workload units.

A lecture semester credit hour counts as one workload unit toward the weekly workload requirement, while a lab hour counts as a 0.667 workload unit.

A workload for a full-time faculty member is 15 units.

“Due to the uniqueness of the various programs, a faculty member’s workload may consist of one or various combinations of courses, laboratories and compensation for non-instructional work assignments above and beyond normal faculty service to the department, college or college district,” states Alamo Colleges Policy D.5.1.2.

EFC is a districtwide group that reviews faculty issues and determines when an ad hoc committee is needed.

After an ad hoc committee reviews the issue, EFC gathers the findings and presents a recommendation to Presidents and Vice Chancellors Council, known as PVC, before going before the board of trustees with a recommendation.

At a Feb. 9 meeting, EFC agreed on a recommendation requesting an increase in the amount lab hours count toward total workload units.

The recommendation consisted of a slide presentation reviewing topics such as a list of lab-loading ratio comparisons among community colleges and the lab-loading recommendation as well as a memo with further details.

Alamo Colleges ranked second to last on the list, ahead of El Paso Community College with a 0.60 workload unit per lab and behind Houston Community College and Austin Community College with 0.75 or higher for workload unit per lab hour.

EFC will present the recommendation to increase the lab workload unit at the Feb. 26 PVC meeting before presenting it March 6 to the board of trustees.

It will cost the district about $6.7 million to reach a 1:1 workload unit to lab hours ratio across the Alamo Colleges.

EFC hopes PVC will approve the recommendation so they can form a subcommittee of chief financial advisers to help determine how to fund the $6.7 million.

“The hope is that if (PVC) accepts the recommendation … there will be a subgroup of the people who wrote this recommendation, along with the chief financial officers of the colleges … to figure out where that money’s going to come from or what the most feasible course of action would be,” said Dianna Torres Lee, Executive Faculty Council faculty fellow, in a Feb. 12 phone interview.

A survey sent to faculty across the Alamo Colleges in the fall asked faculty to share ways lab loading has affected them.

Many concerns presented in the survey were faculty’s ability to be available to students because of how time-consuming lab hours are.

“Students frequently state that both faculty are unavailable for any one-on-one tutoring, and they feel particularly guilty by taking up any of our time,” one faculty member said in the survey.

Faculty also stated the lab hour workload unit boils down to unequal pay for faculty.

“Laboratory preparation, grading, and execution for [program]courses has always been at least as time consuming as lecture preparation, grading and execution. In fact, if you consider the risk/hazard factor of laboratory and the stress associated with maintaining a safe environment, laboratory pay should be greater than lecture pay,” a faculty member said.

Another faculty member held no reservation in their feedback.

“Besides being immoral, unfair and getting paid less for the most dangerous part of our job, I don’t know what else.”

The lab hour policy dates back at least 15 years, said Cynthia Katz, St. Philip’s College’s Faculty Senate president and math professor, in a Feb. 9 interview.

Katz has not taught a lab for several years because she is focusing on Faculty Senate and United Faculty Senates, but she recalled how difficult it was to teach labs at a lower workload unit.

United Faculty Senates is the new name of the Super Senate.

“It’s like doing a homework assignment and your teacher ripping off the bottom one-third of it, and saying, ‘No, I’m not going to take that. I’m just going to take the top two-thirds.’ It’s frustrating. I’m going to use the word demoralizing,” Katz said.

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