Part-time Faculty: Achieving Legislative Improvements and Expanding State Funding

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AFT Washington is committed to supporting the efforts of its members to advance state policy and funding that will improve their working lives as well as the learning conditions of students in our schools and colleges.

To that end, part-time faculty are an integral part of AFT Washington's governance and activism, shaping our policy and implementing our agenda. Part-time faculty serve on AFT Washington’s Executive Board and on our committees, particularly on the Contingent Workers Committee that addresses issues surrounding part-time employment.  Part-time faculty, working through AFT Washington, will continue to make progress in achieving equal pay for equal work, job security, opportunities for full-time positions, health and unemployment benefits, retirement, and more.

Below are the key accomplishments realized through activism at the state legislature:

“Calculation of hours bill”: (SSB 6583, 1996)

Helped draft, lobbied, passed groundbreaking bill standardizing how colleges report hours for state benefits by defining “academic workload” to eliminate unfair calculations of the percent of the part-time workload compared to full-time workload for both teaching and non-teaching faculty. (See Revised Code of Washington 28B.50.489 and 28B.50.489 1)  As a result:

  • Over 200 more part-timers became eligible for retirement benefits and 600 more for medical benefits all across this state's two-year college system who previously had not been eligible. A recent retirement settlement and a separate summer health benefit settlement (Mader) depended largely on this law
  • The Employment Security Department calculates part-time hours for unemployment benefits using this law, removing a big obstacle in establishing an unemployment claim.

Best Practices Report for Part-time Faculty

1996: Legislature mandates SBCTC set up a task force to create an agreed-to list of recommendations for fair and equitable benefits and conditions of employment for bargaining at the local level. (SB 6583—RCW. 28B.50.489-2)

Providing for a review and update of the best practices audit of compensation and employment for part-time faculty in technical and community colleges. (Engrossed Senate Bill 5087)

“Death Benefit”: Helped expand the “Death Benefit” instituted after Columbine shootings to include classified school employees and higher education faculty.

Higher Education Retirement: Prevented passage of a bill that Appropriations Chair wanted that would have removed an important floor to retirement benefits of TIAA/CREF that protected part-time faculty from receiving no benefits.

Retirement eligibility for part-time faculty with two quarters at 50% load (1997-99) came into effect by virtue of a $1.8 million state fund allotment to the colleges. Previously part-timers had to have 80% of a load to get retirement benefits.  

Sick leave and leave sharing for part-time faculty (2000): allows leave sharing and sick leave accrual for part-time faculty on pro-rated basis with full-time. (See 28B.50.489, 28B.50.551)


Unemployment benefits (2000): Part-time faculty at community and technical colleges can receive benefits during breaks between quarters/semesters and in the summer quarter if unemployed.  This legislation came as a result of many years of work on the state and federal levels. The bill’s language was approved by the federal Department of Labor and could be used as model language in other states. (See RCW 50.44.053; 50.44.080, and 50.44)  This benefit has had a direct impact on local bargaining because it has created a form of cost penalty that can easily be avoided with annual contracts and more job security.


Long Term Disability Insurance (2001): Voluntary wage security plan for those eligible for health care benefits to have wage replacement up to 60% of salary for a permanent disablement. This is over and above what Labor and Industries pay for on the job injuries. Part-timers were not permitted to buy into this insurance until last year.


Paydates bill (2004): Permits institutions of higher education to collectively bargain paydates or part-time academic faculty that coincide with the paydates used for full-time faculty. Requires an institution of higher education to pay part-time academic faculty members within 10 days after reporting for work.  (SHB 2383)


Averaging of Health Benefits (2006 and 2007): Maintains health care benefits for part-time academic employees at community and technical colleges, provided the employees establish and maintain a workload pattern. (SHB 2583 and HB 1644)


Unemployment “Reform” (2006): Worked with labor coalition throughout the interim preceding 2006 session and throughout session to pass legislation (SB 6885) that reversed a change in calculating weekly benefits from a four quarter averaging back to a two quarter averaging.   


Health benefits: Since mid 1970's all part-time state employees, including part-time faculty, have, through state statute, full medical and dental for self, spouse, and family. Eligibility starts at second quarter at 50% of full load.  Retirement benefits are currently also available at 50% of a full load.  


Budget Allotments:


1995 – 97:

$2.7 million to pay for calculation of benefits bill (see above) for part-time faculty.

$4.2 million faculty increment funding on top of 4% COLA in ’96.

4% COLA for four-year faculty.


1997 – 99:

$2.9 million solely to increase part-time pay plus mandate to SBCTC to create a Best Practices Report with a list of minimum requirements for part-time treatment at the college level.

$3.14 million faculty increments on top of 3% COLA in ‘98

$4 million Recruitment and Retention for four-year faculty on top of 3% COLA


1999 – 01: (The Equity Campaign)

$10 million from state and $10 million allowed local match for part-time equity

$3.5 million faculty increments on top of 3% COLA in 2000 and 3% COLA in 2001.

$10 million R & R for four year on top of 3% and 3% COLA


2001 – 03:

$7.5 million solely to increase part-time pay

$2.3 million faculty increments on top of 3.7% COLA in '02

3% COLA for four year faculty in ‘02


2003 – 05:

$2.5 million part-time equity

$2.5 million faculty increments (NO COLA)

$10 million for four-year R & R with no COLA


2005 – 07:

$4.5 million part-time equity

$6 million faculty increments (part-time faculty allotted a ratio that can be used for equity raises if there are no steps on salary schedule)

3.2% and 1.6% COLA consistent with state employee bargaining


2007 – 09:

$11.25 million part-time equity

$7.5 million faculty increments (part-time faculty allotted a ratio that can be used for equity raises if there are no steps on salary schedule)

3.7% and 2.8% COLA consistent with I-732

For the next two biennia, the State Legislature decreased funding to higher education due to the Great Recession. In fact, some higher education employees took a 3 percent salary cut. However, in the 2013 session we continued to push for funding for step increases and to allow faculty unions to bargain for local college dollars (tuition) through HB 1348. While our bill did not pass, the State Legislature did allocate almost $15 million to the two-year colleges to restore the 3 percent salary reductions and a one-time $8.7 million that could be used, but not limited to, step increases or other enhancements for part- and full-time faculty.