USC's Non-Tenure Track Professors Take First Step to Unionizing

Big news out of USC today, as over 500 non-tenure track faculty filed a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board. Seeking to protect quality education through improved faculty working conditions, faculty have taken the first step towards forming a union on campus.
Despite non-tenure track faculty’s critical role in the University, many of our professors are having a hard time making ends meet. From KPCC:
“I love what do here, I love my job. I wouldn’t trade the work that I do for any other,” said Kate Levin, who has taught writing at USC since 2011. “But — I personally — I find it hard to afford my rent. I find it hard to afford day care for my kid, and sort of the basic necessities of life, on what we make here.”
Levin teaches two writing classes a semester — more than some part-time faculty. She said she also earns a bit more per class than others, $8,000 a class. But that amounts to about $32,000 a year. To supplement, she does freelance writing.
Levin said she has benefits, but some some part-time professors don’t, like Alexis Disselkoen, who has taught in the art department at USC for almost four years.
“I would like to see things like some more job security, and potentially being able to work toward getting health benefits – one, day, hopefully,” said Disselkoen.
Read the whole story here.

University Lecturers on the Breadline: Is the UK Following in America’s Footsteps?

The Guardian takes a first-hand look at the U.S.’ ongoing trend towards the corporatization of higher education, and the real effects of driving down the cost of instruction to maximize profits:
“The thing is the real economic hardship of this,” says Wedell, who lectures at the University of Southern California Roski School of Art and Design. Her annual wages from non-permanent contracts in the past few years have oscillated between $21,000 and $24,000 depending on how many classes she’s been given to teach. “Scrabbling around” for non-academic work to supplement her income has been essential. “I have to sublet my apartment during the summer and live with my mother – at 43. I have put off having a family because of this. The situation is obscene.”
Read the whole story here.

USG College Affordability Resolution Hits the Mark

Daily Trojan writer Lily Vaughan weighs in on the recent affordability resolution put forth by USG:
“The lack of transparency as to where these funds are going increases mistrust among the University community and amplifies the sting of the same tuition increases the University fails to explain. Students deserve to be able to predict the cost of their higher education, to access the University regardless of their socioeconomic standing and to rely on their University to responsibly and openly disseminate financial information.”
Check out the whole article here.

New CFO Should Invest Responsibly

The Daily Trojan weighs in on USC’s new CFO, and the need to invest in the workers and faculty who make our university great:
“As the University grows in reputation as a top-ranked research university, students and University workers alike have consistently challenged its stance on socially responsible growth. In June, the removal of the University’s employees’ $30 per month reduced-price transit passes caused public media blowback and made employees’ daily lives more difficult. The proposed re-development of the University Village raised further concerns over gentrification in the local community. The recent rally by subcontracted USC janitors protesting contractor Aramark’s lack of raises and unfair work conditions have made issues with employment plain. A litany of protests by non-tenured faculty demanding higher wages and a right to unionize further question USC’s growth.
As new administrators like Provost Michael Quick and Staten determine the course of the University, responses to worker rights have consistently denied more negotiating power to those who serve the foundation of our University. As Staten becomes a new voice which profoundly influences University financial decisions, he should focus on expanding services for University workers and listening to student voices on socially responsible investments.”
Read the whole thing here.

USG Introduces Resolution on College Tuition

In an effort to increase transparency and lower tuition costs, members of USG introduced a resolution on college affordability last night. From the Daily Trojan:
“The resolution presentation began with the results of a college affordability survey conducted a few months ago. The results gathered 1,903 responses over a period of three weeks and showed considerable majorities.
Eighty-four percent of respondents believed that a tuition freeze would alleviate the financial burden for students. Seventy-six percent knew of someone who had transferred from or considered taking a leave of absence from USC due to high tuition costs. Ninety-eight percent did not know the reason for the 2015-2016 $2,000 tuition increase. Ninety-three percent did not know where their tuition dollars went.”
Wonder where tuition dollars are going? Probably not where you think.

Tracking the Money: Where Do Your Tuition Dollars Go?

From Annenberg TV News:

“USC collected $1.3 billion in tuition money in 2014, 65% of its total revenue. Most of that money went to employee compensation. 63% of expenses, some $1.2 billion, were employement-related, including salary, bonuses and health care. 
Still, some employees are getting paid more than others. President Nikias makes almost $1.6 million a year. Athletic director Pat Haden made $2.5 million in 2013.” 
ICYMI: Non-tenure track faculty make an average of $5,044 per course.
Read the whole article here.

Protesters Ask USC: What Are We Paying For?

From Annenberg TV News:

“Members of USC Forward, a group of students, faculty and community members fighting for “a better USC”, gathered outside Bovard Auditorium on USC’s campus today to protest tuition hikes and low wages for USC faculty.
About 200 protesters participated in the march. They handed out flyers with the headline “WTF are we paying for?”
Faculty members who were present stressed that while executive compensation has “skyrocketed,” faculty wages continue to remain stagnant.”