From Chris Broniak, Membership Chair

A new adjunct asks why the bargaining agreement between Roosevelt University and Roosevelt’s Adjunct Faculty Organization (RAFO) forces adjuncts to join the union. Just to be clear: RAFO doesn't force anyone to do anything they don't want to do. Some adjuncts choose not to join our organization - but they also understand that they will not be eligible to teach more than a second course at Roosevelt if they do not at least complete the paperwork needed by the end of their second term of teaching.

My experience has been that many of the new adjuncts who object to joining our part time faculty union more often than not have a full time non-academic job outside of teaching at Roosevelt. Now when your company respects you and the work you do, you don’t need a union. But adjuncts who don’t have a full time job, who patch together part time teaching at two or three or more area colleges and universities, without the benefits of a full time job, need an organization that “forces” their employer to respect them and what they do. That’s where RAFO comes in.

You most likely won’t notice the respect our bargaining agreement earns its members until you see that Roosevelt’s compensation for an adjunct's first term is a little less than 60% of what RAFO members earn for a course after they’ve completed their first term with the union. The compensation schedule for RAFO adjuncts can be found in Appendix A of RAFO's current bargaining agreement.

The increase in compensation more than offsets the cost of membership dues. If you read closely through the current contract, you’ll see that RAFO has gained other professional rights and opportunities for its members.

If you haven’t already signed up with RAFO, I hope you’ll sign up with us. The benefits of belonging to RAFO far outweigh its costs. Feel free to contact me or any of RAFO’s officers for any further information you may need. We appreciate your interest.

Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting, Eastern Michigan University.

Like his presentation in 2012 sponsored by AAUP, Bunsis took financial reports and 990s to form a roadmap and ratio analysis of where Roosevelt University is today. Opening comments conveyed three main criticisms with Roosevelt: the overall financial state is worse now than in 2012, the main reason for the financial state remains a decline in enrollment, and Roosevelt lacks transparency in their communications with the staff and faculty. Bunsis did not place much emphasis on the operating budget, as the budget has little to do with the financial outlook. The following are major points of his analysis:

  • Looking at the operating budget of $118 million, the main areas of incoming funds were–73% from tuition, 8% from auxiliary funds (housing, dining, and bookstore), 9% from gifts, grants, and contracts, and 7% from investments.
  • Roosevelt University’s bond rating has been lowered. Moody’s lowered the bond rating from Ba1 to Ba2. There are a few reasons for this downgrade, including declining enrollment, debt service, and low reserves. RU has been running a deficit for the last four years. A large measure of the problem seems to be the debt. However, they listed other reasons for the downgrade, including low 2016 enrollment number, management blaming the MAP grant funding on this issue, and the transition of several senior leadership positions within the upper administration.
  • At this point, Roosevelt University has interest payments that are much greater than the payments toward the principle. For example, for the years 2008, 2009, and 2010, all payments were solely on interest; jumping ahead, in 2016, RU paid $14 million on interest and a little over $2 million on principle. While Bunsis acknowledges that debt service is a problem, he asserted that it did not justify the cuts to faculty.
  • In 2016, RU has a liquidity level of $130 million. However, the endowment only equals $82.9 million, increasing to this level from $80.2 million in 2011. This level of endowment supports between $3 – 4 million in student support and scholarships. The causes of the low endowment growth remains levels of giving have not increased, the consecutive investments, and overall low contributions.
  • From the 2016 audited financial statements, the summary includes three main areas within the university. The university brought in $116 million with expenses of $119 million. The RUDC (Roosevelt University Development Company) ran a deficit of $400,000 while the Auditorium Theater had a revenue line of $1.2 million but costs $2.3 million to run the theater each year. RU has a 4.9% deficit right now.
  • Total enrollment from 2016 equals 4,700 students in comparison to 2009 with 7,642 students. Undergraduate part-time students have decreased by over 67% from 2008–1,752 students to 2016 with 495 students enrolled.
  • Tuition discounts contribute to the financial picture of RU as well. In 2008, students were granted a 13.7% discount on tuition in the form of scholarships while in 2016 on average students received 25.7%.
  • Instructional expenses amount to 49.2% of the total cost of running the university, with 20.9% of the expenses covering the upper administration. Roosevelt University spends $3.8 million less on salaries than its peers. The peer group includes the following institutions: Aurora University, Benedictine University, Columbia College, Elmhurst College, Lewis University, Loyola, DePaul, Robert Morris College, and National Lewis University.

View the article here: https://www.roosevelt.edu/news-events/news/20171003-NewRAFOContract

Roosevelt University and the Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization (RAFO) have signed a new three-year contract that paves the way for strong cooperation as the University continues on track with its Building A Stronger Roosevelt program.

“We have so many outstanding adjunct faculty members at the University, and we absolutely want to have the best relationship with them going forward,” said Roosevelt President Ali Malekzadeh, who hailed the collaboration exhibited by all during recent contract negotiations.

Signed Monday, Sept. 25 by Malekzadeh and RAFO President Joseph Fedorko, the new agreement applies to approximately 330 part-time instructors in the union from three colleges (Arts and Sciences, Education and Business.) With the new contract, members of RAFO now remain in the union for up to three years and have a provision establishing adjunct-per-course salary increases when full-time faculty are eligible for merit salary increases.

“This contract gives adjuncts more flexibility and security, and will allow RAFO, on behalf of its membership, to build from here,” said Fedorko.

Ratified by RAFO membership on Sept. 7, the new contract took shape in record time during talks held over the summer. The University’s bargaining team included: Tom Philion, dean of the College of Education; Amanda Wornhoff, assistant provost of core curriculum and assessment; Alexandra Wright, general counsel; Toyia K. Stewart, associate vice president of human resources; Shirley Mathai, human resources generalist; Sue Fay, vice president of human resources; and Anna Wermuth, lead negotiator and attorney with the law firm of Cozen O’Connor.

Comprising the bargaining team for union adjuncts were: lead negotiator Jennifer Wilson, RAFO President Joseph Fedorko, RAFO member Michael Pinsof, Grievance Chair Bonnie Smothers, Illinois Education Association Uniserv Director William Silver, as well as RAFO members Chris Broniak, Frank Brooks, and LuAnn Swartzlander.

Running through Aug. 14, 2020, the new RAFO agreement is the fifth for Roosevelt and its adjunct union. The two entities began working together with the first collective bargaining agreement in the fall of 2001.