Top Social Menu


Exploitation of Associate Lecturers at UMB


Dear FSU Members,   

As you know, approximately 350 NTT faculty received non-appointment letters this past spring, meaning that they would not be offered classes to teach this fall.  

While close to 80% have been hired back, one of them, Maria Mellone, has not.  Maria Mellone was an Associate Lecturer in the Math Department.  She was also a member of our Core Bargaining Team, the first Associate Lecturer appointed and confirmed by the Executive Committee of the FSU to this important committee. 

What makes Maria’s case unique is that we believe she was not rehired due to her union activity.  

The unjust treatment of Maria began with her initial hiring.  She was hired as an Associate Lecturer (AL), a relatively new category that administration has argued is necessary to cover “accidents,” or courses that needed to be temporarily staffed when (for example) a faculty member goes on leave.  These are courses for which there is no permanent need.     

However, Maria was not temporarily replacing someone or filling a short-term need.  Rather, she was hired to teach four service-level math courses in one semester – and then rehired to teach four more courses for the next three semesters.  Overall, Maria has taught sixteen courses in the past two years and was even asked to teach a course this past summer.  As she pointed out to the Math Department shortly after she read her initial contract, she should have been hired as a Lecturer—which comes with more rights, much better pay, and a shorter path to the guarantee of continuous employment.     

Nevertheless, Maria stayed at UMB because she loves teaching and her students.  She felt confident that her employment issues would resolve and was verbally reassured about being a desired instructor in the Math department, regardless of what her contract said.  

Moreover, Maria is a popular teacher.  Her evaluations are excellent.  Students routinely say she is the best Math professor they have ever had.  However, despite these positive reviews and her extensive experience, she appears to be virtually the only Associate Lecturer in the Math Department who was not offered their position back.  Indeed, the Math department is outright refusing to re-hire her for the fall, even though they are in need of faculty to teach her courses.   

We are therefore filing an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the University.   

This is no small matter for Maria, who is not only out of a job, but whose son was counting on her tuition discount to attend UMB. 

This is also no small matter for the university.  Almost half of NTT faculty are Associate Lecturers, or approximately 20% of all faculty at UMB.  The current use and abuse of the AL category is strongly contrary to the spirit of the original agreement that created it and is a threat to all of us.    

It’s no surprise that the category is so attractive to Administration.  ALs are literally disposable employees.  Faculty who can be hired and “not rehired” at will give administrators endless flexibility, without regard for the impact on workers.  If we do not fight this abuse, we can expect to see this category expand, especially during periods of fiscal stress.    

Evidence that Math is continuing to abuse the AL category is, ironically, reflected in the Math Department’s own recent job announcement, which makes clear they are trying to hire one or more ALs to replace Maria:    

The Department of Mathematics anticipates having several part-time associate lecturer positions in mathematics beginning September 1, 2020.  Renewals are contingent upon performance, availability of resources, and need of the department.  The essential duties will be to teach lower-division service-level mathematics classes each semester.  In addition to instruction, the successful candidates will be expected to participate in appropriate professional service, which may include course coordination in multi-section classes and curriculum development.   

Note that the position is potentially renewable, suggesting that the person hired will fill a permanent need and not a temporary gap (or "accident") as the Associated Lecturer category is intended.  Note also the expectation of service, which is not part of AL duties according to the collective bargaining agreement.  Math is clearly interested in hiring a semi-permanent faculty member without the requisite pay or job security that would attend that status.   

Maria is not the only committed, hard-working, and effective AL who will not be teaching at UMB this Fall – although her commitment to UMB certainly stands out. She may not even be the only one whose child can no longer attend the university because the tuition discount disappeared with the job.  But she is the only one who is a member of the core bargaining team.  

Maria is a highly valued member of the FSU and our team.  We will miss her courage, her thoughtfulness, and her care for the university and its students.  We commit to fight for her, and for all Associate Lecturers, until these injustices are rectified. 


Core Bargaining Team: 

Caroline Coscia, Senior Lecturer II, Political Science, FSU Vice President 

Katie D’Urso, MTA Field Representative 

Jessica Holden, Librarian III, Healey Library 

Maria Mellone, Associate Lecturer, Mathematics 

Alex Mueller, Associate Professor, English 

Lorenzo Nencioli, FSU Membership Coordinator 

Jason Rodriquez, Associate Professor, Sociology 

Heike Schotten, Associate Professor, Political Science 

Steve Striffler, Director of the Labor Resource Center and Professor, Anthropology, FSU President 

Tony Vandermeer, Senior Lecturer II, Africana Studies  

For information on the FSU, links to our contract and bargaining updates, and a calendar of events, see the FSU webpage

Check out the FSU Blog

Please “like” the  FSU Facebook Page

Follow us on Twitter at @FSU_UMB