PLYMOUTH — Two years after Plymouth State University adjunct faculty members voted to unionize, the State Employees' Association of New Hampshire has ratified its first union contract.
According to a statement issued by the SEA on Friday, the vote was 97 percent in favor.
"The path to obtain the rights necessary for empowered workers to level the playing field as equally valuable partners in the workplace, including higher education, can be a long one that takes real commitment," said SEA/SEIU 1984 President Diana Lacey in a news release.
Plymouth State University President Sara Jayne Steen said the matter will now go before the university trustees.
"The university is very pleased with the collegiality and cooperation during the negotiating process, and the final outcome will now go forward to our board of trustees for approval," Steen said Friday.
According to the SEA, the contract provides job stability, annual wage increases, access to health benefits and intellectual property rights over the next three years.
Before joining the union, the part-time faculty members were employees "at will," did not have access to benefits, were not compensated well for their contributions, and "were not treated respectfully," the SEA said in the release.
The contract is one of two recent agreements in New Hampshire higher education for part-time teachers. Earlier this year, the union won a contract for more than 1,000 adjunct faculty members who teach for the Community College System of New Hampshire.
Adjunct faculty now make up the majority of the higher education workforce, according to the union. In 1969, 78 percent of instructional staff comprised tenured or tenure-track professors, with adjunct faculty making up the rest, according to information from the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California.
By 2009, the figures had nearly flipped, with a third of faculty tenured or on the tenure track and two-thirds ineligible for tenure. Of those non-tenure-track positions, 19 percent were full-time.