I received an email with this news from Zachary Jones, who is the grievance officer for the EMUFT, which is the union representing the lecturers and part-time lecturers:
On October 8th an Arbitrator confirmed the First Right of Refusal for PTLs over hiring outside the bargaining unit when additional courses become available. The Arbitrator even gave the University a cease and desist order. Attached is the decision.
This is an import decision for PTLs because it requires EMU to first offer additional courses to incumbent PTLs before hiring outside the university. Instead of only getting one or two courses, it now means we’re more likely to get a larger workload, improving our job security.
This ruling is precedence setting and reinforces a grievance EMUFT won against the Creative Writing Program last year where Dean Tom Venner agreed with the EMUFT that the department head violated the contract by hiring outside the university instead of hiring incumbent PTLs to teach the additional courses.
I agree with Jones that this is an important decision. I don’t know the details of this particular situation (even though creative writing is in my department), but as I understand it, what this means now is departments have to actually advertise teaching positions and actually interview people who apply for those jobs. This might seem like common sense, but it actually wasn’t the common practice, certainly not in my field.
A lot of part-time hiring is done at the last minute (because a new section opens up, because someone suddenly can’t teach a class, etc.), and there wasn’t really a system in place to make that happen. And by the way, this practice of “just hire someone” is not new and not at all unique to EMU. When I was a part-timer way back in the early 1990s, it seemed like the process of who would or wouldn’t get that extra section of a class was based entirely on who was in the hallway when the department chair poked his head out of his office. At my first tenure-track job, “the process” for hiring part-timers was the secretary called someone on the availability list and the first person to answer the phone got the gig.
Mind you, this new process is kind of a pain in the ass too. It means that part-timers have to put together an application, and it means that there needs to be an interview process, which is an extra step for department heads (and, in my department, faculty in the area where the part-timers are being hired). But it does seem to be a system that is a lot more fair and a lot less random.