Adjunct faculty at the seven-campus Maine Community College System have unionized and struck their first contract with campus officials on Wednesday.
The board of trustees of the MCCS voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the contract.
About 1,000 people will now be covered by the contract between the system and the Maine State Employees Association, local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union. The union already represents two other groups of employees in the system.
“I’m pleased. It’s been a long road just to get to where we are,” said chapter President Paul Trahan, who has taught as an adjunct at SMCC for 10 years.
Most adjuncts earn between $1,500 and $2,500 per course, depending on several factors, including how many credit hours the course has, how much time the instructor spends with each student and how long the instructor has taught at the college.
According to MCCS, the total fiscal impact of the agreement over three years is about $1.26 million.
The agreement provides:
• 2 percent retroactive payment to instructors who taught at least one course in the 2012-13 academic year and are teaching in the fall semester 2013.
• 3 percent to the current base salary calculation.
• 3 percent to the base effective July 1.
A $50 one-time payment will also be made on July 1 to instructors for each course taught during the 2013-14 academic year, with a maximum of $250.
System and union officials said they were pleased with the outcome and that the negotiations came together smoothly in recent months after new negotiators came in for both the college system and the union. The workforce first voted to form a union in 2010 and has been working on the contract ever since.
“It’s a very important part of our workforce,” said Linda McGill, the chief human resources officer for the system.
There are up to 800 adjunct faculty teaching systemwide in any given semester, and even more who teach intermittently, McGill said. Across all campuses, about 45 percent of classes are taught by adjuncts, but the percentage varies significantly by campus.
The system has about 330 full-time faculty, she said.
Part-time faculty at the University of Maine System, which makes up about 10 percent of all UMS employees, are covered by a union.
McGill said it was unknown what the financial impact of the contract would be, noting that each campus controls how many adjunct faculty are hired and sets their salaries.
MSEU General Counsel Tim Belcher said representation is important because adjuncts provide so much of the instruction, and up to this point, had no officials rights or standing.
“The reality is that these people are, more and more, trying to do this as a full-time job,” said Belcher. “If you are in higher education, this is what your career looks like.”
Key elements of the contract, Belcher said, are an 8 percent raise over three years and forming a committee to look at compensation issues in general, such as benefits and seniority.
Less tangibly, he said, the contract represents “a seat at the table.”
“More fundamentally, these are people who are really committed to the institution and want to play a part in it,” he said. “Our hope is by recognizing them and involving them, they can contribute.”
Staff Writer Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at: