|What's our Union Difference at . . .|
William Paterson University?
|I am represented at William Paterson University by the American
Federation of Teachers, Local 1796. When I became a new employee, I
was automatically represented by this union. Since I began working
there in 1999, my hourly wages (which were around $30 an hour) have
increased over 200%, contributions are made to a pension (around $400
per year), and I have really good health insurance through WPU (I pay
the full premium), which is accepted all over the city. Clearly, the
dues have been worth every penny!
In ten years, never once has someone from the union (other than myself) been involved with my direct conversations with administrators (of which I've had dozens), nor has the union been involved in the outcomes of these conversations, which have included purchasing or repairing instruments, adjusting teacher pay for juries and auditions, and dialogue on how to make the Music Department at WPU a better place for students, teachers, and administrators. Neither have I concerned myself with union bylaws – I know these are fair because they were written by teachers for teachers. The AFT Local 1796 (my teacher colleagues at the university) negotiates on my behalf so that I needn't spend time negotiating for myself – in other words, I can spend 100% of my energy on teaching.
Besides teaching at William Paterson, I'm also a faculty member of the PreCollege Division of the Manhattan School of Music. We formed a NYSUT/AFT union there a little over a year ago and now I'm on the bargaining team for the first contract. I'm looking forward to helping build the same sort of strong and democratic organization for MSM teachers that I've been a part of at William Paterson.
James Noyes, Adjunct Faculty
Music, William Paterson University
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