On October 28, after five months of contract negotiations, members of the Berklee Faculty Union voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new faculty contract agreement. The three-year agreement achieves significant progress on multiple fronts: wages, workload, equity, and additional benefits for full-time faculty, part-time faculty, Conservatory program faculty, and retirees.
“This contract was one of the strongest bargained in the past 20 years and was the result of an incredible team effort, solidarity of the faculty, and the overwhelming support of the students,” said Will Silvio, President of the Berklee Faculty Union, AFT Local 4412. “I would also like to say a very special thanks to AFT Massachusetts General Counsel Haidee Morris and Pyle Rome attorney Al Gordon for their expertise and advice.”
Under the new contract, all faculty will receive a 3% raise each year and, additionally, a one-time 2% bonus in the first year. Meanwhile, the wages of the lowest-paid faculty members will increase by up to 19% over the same period due to adjustments to the minimum wage for each faculty rank. This provision is especially important for faculty who came to Berklee as part of the 2016 merger with Boston Conservatory. Additionally, part-time faculty who teach in the Boston Conservatory program will now be paid for office hours and department meetings, like other part-time Berklee faculty.
In addition, the new contract will for the first time mandate the formation of joint faculty/administration working groups to examine course weighting and full-time workload levels at Berklee. If consensus is reached by those working groups, the relevant sections of the new contract can be re-opened and re-negotiated.
"I'm thrilled we brought home a strong contract,” said Andrew Shryock, Secretary-Treasurer of the Berklee Faculty Union. “What's just as satisfying was to see so many people come together around a shared vision for Berklee where faculty can do their best work and provide a world-class experience for Berklee students.”
To win their contract, members of the Berklee Faculty Union ran a petition campaign to increase awareness of their contract issues. They solicited signatures in support of the campaign from students, their parents, and other members of the Berklee community. A change.org petition allowed the union to provide regular updates to petition signers.
Each week in October, the union distributed a new physical and digital postcard to inform students, their parents, and others in the Berklee community about the ways in which faculty working conditions affected student learning conditions and outcomes.
In the end, strong faculty solidarity, support from the broader Berklee community, and an organized campaign helped the Berklee Faculty Union win a strong new contract that will help support faculty over the coming years. Congratulations to the Berklee faculty on their victory!