An Instructional Academic Staff Bill of Rights

Instructional Academic Staff are valued members of the UWM campus community. Many are veteran instructors who consistently teach a 4-4 load, often representing the core of lower-level course teaching in many departments around the university. And like tenured faculty, they meet with students outside of class, write letters of recommendation, work with students in developmental courses, teach first year seminars, participate in Living Learning Communities, and focus on intensive advising and retention strategies that are so critical in lower level or developmental courses. Instructional Academic Staff are often the “face” of departments for first year students.

Yet far too often, these folks get the short end of the stick at UWM, and at universities around the country. These instructors, many who have earned their PhDs, have committed their professional life to serving their students and programs. Yet often they must perform their professional work with paltry levels of compensation and non-existent job security. We should not tolerate a contingent, disposable workforce on our campus. Instead, we must strive for better integration and support for these staff within departments and colleges, and the reduction of tiered systems of privilege on campus. As the UWM AAUP chapter, we support the One Faculty campaign movement which is addressing this issue at UWM and on university campuses across the country. AAUP regards all who have taught at 50% time or more for 6 or more years as deserving the equivalent of the protections of tenure.

We therefore present an Instructional Academic Staff Bill of Rights at UWM:

  1. The right to academic freedom, which rests on economic security and due process protections.
  1. The right to job security and paths to tenure after a period of time of continuous employment and demonstrated effective teaching such as probationary status leading to indefinite status–the academic staff equivalent of tenure. AAUP national policy considers any faculty who have taught for six years at 50% time or more as effectively tenured. UWM policy in chapter 104.02 states that after 3 years of teaching at 50% or greater, fixed-term appointments should be converted to probationary leading to indefinite status.
  1. The right to fair employment contracts; semester to semester fixed-term contracts should never be used for employees who are long-term employees; instead, the use of multi-year and rolling horizon contracts should be utilized when not covered by probationary contracts or indefinite status appointment.
  1. The right to equitable compensation that addresses salary stagnation and the increasing divergence from faculty salaries.
  1. The right to participate in shared governance and have a voice in those decisions that directly affect one’s working conditions.
  1. The right to promotion tracks such as going up for senior lecturer or probationary status leading to indefinite status; the right to earn the full security conveyed by “indefinite” status; if there is demonstrated need within departments and a history of full-time employment, indefinite status should be set at 100% appointment level.
  1. The right to fair workload policies such as what constitutes full-time employment or the number of new course preps per semester; to be compensated for administrative work that is beyond the scope of regular teaching appointments.
  1. The right to be free from reprisal or capricious dismissal or reassignment; the right to due process protections.
  1. The right to not be singled out and targeted for budget cutting within departments and Colleges; to be able to access unemployment insurance and UWM’s Priority Referral Program when budget cutting, program restructuring, or enrollment downturns require major reductions in instructional academic staff employment.
  1. The right to be treated as a valued member of one’s department and program teaching faculty; to be welcomed and integrated within departments; to have equitable access to those amenities and resources afforded to other faculty; to have opportunities to participate in department discussions and decision-making; to be acknowledged and honored at those routine professional milestones such as publications or retirements, etc.