Tentative adjunct agreement reached, walkout changed to victory rally
Adjuncts and Washington University officials reached a tentative agreement regarding compensation, job security and facility access Wednesday afternoon. The agreement, subject to ratification, effectively changed the purpose of Thursday’s rally, originally intended to display the campus-wide concerns on adjunct pay treatment.
While the release date of the agreement’s final details is unknown, adjunct instructor and bargaining committee member Dustin Iler said a major goal has been accomplished in negotiations.
“We have won raises for every member of the bargaining unit,” Iler said. “We have also won for members of our bargaining unit things like appointments, job security and access to facilities, so office space and web space hosted by Washington University.”
Iler stated that members will receive information by the end of the semester.
He added that the agreement, if ratified, will raise minimum pay, and that over four years, members in each school within the University will receive a raise.
The negotiations’ success prompted organizers to shift the focus of Thursday’s event to a celebratory gathering and an opportunity to continue advocating for fair compensation. He suggested University members should still gather in front of Olin Library as scheduled.
“Since we’ve reached a contract, there’s no need now for students and faculty to walk out of classes,” Iler wrote in an email. “The fight continues for low wage workers throughout the St. Louis region, and they need Senior Christian Ralph, a member of Student Worker Alliance (SWA), hopes the rally will raise awareness about the nationwide push for an increase in minimum wage.
“I think we need to shift to talking about the Fight for 15. I think it’s an international day for raising minimum wage,” Ralph said. “Most of the members of SWA and a few members of the University are going to be going out to the rally downtown…we’ll see if we can get a few people to come out for that.”
Ralph said SWA members aim to recognize the important role of students in demanding better treatments of workers.
“[We’ll] talk about custodial workers, and other important causes. We’ll also spend a lot of time focusing on the fact that the deal has been reached because the efforts of students, and the fact that we’re one community who came together to support and uplift individual members who were being exploited,” Ralph said.
Iler said the next steps to finalizing the contract include presenting it to the members of their bargaining unit, which consists of all the adjuncts they represent at Wash. U. After that, they will put the contract to a vote and, if it passes, the contract will hold for the next four year.
He added that he doubts that renegotiation will be necessary and is very optimistic about the future.
“It’s a really good deal, and it matches up with the bargaining surveys that we received from our membership…this is the best contract that we could negotiate, and we are very positive and very happy with this contract,” he said.
College Writing I adjunct instructor Aileen Waters is grateful for student involvement and is excited that the University is addressing fair compensation of adjuncts.
“I am really excited about the agreement. It’s great news for adjunct instructors, of course, but it’s especially awesome to have witnessed how much work the students have put in to ensure that Wash. U. has a chance to be a leader nationally on what I think is one of the most pressing issues in higher education today,” Waters said.
The University also released a statement in response to the tentative agreement.
“Our goal throughout has been to come to terms that serve our faculty and students well and help the University fulfill its mission. We believe the proposed contract does just that. It provides the necessary flexibility for the university to continue to manage our educational offering. It also provides fair increases in our per course compensation structure. Now, the University and members of the bargaining unit must ratify the tentative agreement. We certainly hope that it results in a positive outcome,” the statement reads.