Non-tenure faculty at Duke University say they have tentatively agreed to a union contract. The deal would give 14 percent raises to instructors who teach on a course-by-course basis, and 12 percent to faculty on salaries.
It will apply to nearly 300 employees. The largest raises of 46 percent are going to Applied Music teachers, who were the lowest paid contingent faculty members.
“What we've been trying to do all along is raise the bottom, get the people who are being paid the least the biggest raises, so that they're coming above the poverty level,” said Cathy Shuman, a lecturing fellow in Duke's English department. “There were people in Applied Music who could have qualified for food stamps. I mean, that's just not okay.”
It's the first agreement for non-tenure faculty after they decided to unionize last year. A spokesman for the university declined to comment until the contract is signed, which is expected to be later this month.
Eileen Anderson, who teaches a range of Spanish classes, said the deal gives her and other contingent faculty more opportunities to work on research projects.
"I plan to do more of that because now I know it will be there, but I think there are other people who didn't have any funds and now will be able to go to conferences and obtain professional development outside the university," Anderson said.
In a statement, the Service Employees International Union said this is the first faculty union contract at a major private university in the South.