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Contingent Members Gain Recognition: Fall 2011 DA

By Lori Nash

Wow, what a Delegate Assembly!  There were six constitutional amendments on the agenda about contingent employees.  Five out of the six were approved, and the one that was not approved was referred to the state-wide Executive Board because we ran out of time.  What are the amendments about?  How will things change because of the amendments?

 Importantly, “contingent” has become a category of membership and contingent membership now extends throughout the membership year.  UUP now recognizes that members are either academic or professional, and that some members are contingent as well.  Contingent members are all part-time employees and any full-time employee who is not eligible for continuing appointment (tenure) or permanent employment.  The fact that membership is for the entire year is important because part-time members who were not renewed in the spring used to be dropped as UUP members.  This meant that UUP was dropping its most vulnerable members at a time when these people needed us most! 

Why is this category of contingent membership so important?  Thousands of UUP members are working in contingent positions.  And thousands have been frustrated by the terms and conditions of their employment.  Part-time contingent members have been pushing for changes within the union because the vast majority of part-time employees working in SUNY are paid a paltry wage and some are living in poverty.   In particular, the starting salary for part-time academics at Oswego is $2,604.  This salary has not changed since fall 2008, despite increases in the cost of living.   Full-time contingent members have been pushing for changes within the union because many have been working for SUNY for decades.  Regardless of how hard they work or how much they are admired by their students and/or colleagues, they have had little hope for a chance at continuing appointment or permanent employment.

The constitutional changes that we made at the fall 2011 Delegate Assembly will give the contingent members of UUP a greater role within the union. 

First, beginning with the spring 2013 elections, we will have an Officer for Contingents.  This position is intended to replace the Part-time Concerns Representative.  The Officer for Contingents will be elected by all members of the chapter, as was the case with the Part-time Concerns Representative. 

Second, we now have the Contingent Employment Committee.  This state-wide committee is intended to replace the Part-time Concerns Committee, and will be comprised of all the chapter Officers for Contingents as well as those individuals who have been appointed by the President of UUP.

Third, we now have a guaranteed seat on the state-wide Executive Board.  

I believe that the constitutional changes that we put in place at the Fall Delegate Assembly will help us improve the terms and conditions of employment for those UUP members who have not had the advantages of continuing appointment.   I hope you will join me in celebrating these changes!