Adjunct professors at the College of DuPage are set to receive salary increases as part of a two-year contract extension approved Thursday by the college's board of trustees.
College officials offered the contract extension to adjuncts as a package along with a plan to create a new "lecturer" position that would allow some adjuncts to receive health care benefits under the new federal health care law.
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The current contract for the 650-member College of DuPage Adjuncts Association -- the largest of the four union employee groups at COD -- was set to expire before the start of the fall 2015 semester, but now has been extended through 2017.
The extension was approved by the board 7-0 Thursday, and "overwhelmingly" approved last week by the CODAA membership, according to Colleen McCoy, the union's president-elect.
The college will provide 3 percent increases to the adjuncts' salary schedule pool for 2016 and 2017. However, if any other union negotiates an increase to their salary schedule in excess of 3 percent for those two years, the same increases will be extended to the adjuncts, officials said.
Adjuncts are receiving a pool of salary increases of 2.85 percent, 3.15 percent, 3.55 percent and 4.15 percent, respectively, in each year of the existing contract.
The additional salary increases in 2016 and 2017 are expected to cost the college between $500,000 and $600,000, COD President Robert Breuder said.
"Not only do we support you and regard you in esteem, but let's put our money where our mouth is," Breuder said at Thursday's board meeting.
All other terms in the existing contract will remain in effect.
As part of a memorandum of understanding between COD and the adjunct association, the newly created lecturer position would be those part-time nontenured faculty who would teach more classes than the average adjunct professor, but still fewer than a full-time professor.
Starting in 2014, the college would create as many as 45 such lecturer positions, which is equivalent to 15 percent of the college's budgeted full-time faculty positions. By the end of the contract extension period, the college would extend the percentage to 20 percent.
Mike Dusik, president emeritus of CODAA, said COD has "set the standard for the nation" with the new contract, as other community colleges reduce the number of hours their adjuncts teach in an effort to avoid having to cover their health insurance.
"We believe COD has treated its adjuncts with fairness, and dare I say compassion," Dusik told the board of trustees Thursday.
The contracts of the three other unions at COD -- those representing full-time faculty, police officers and engineers -- all expire in June 2015.