Another College’s Obamacare Problem
by Daniel Luzer
Earlier in the week I wrote about how one Pennsylvania community college facing financial constraints was planning to reduce faculty hours in order to avoid being forced to provide them with health insurance under the rules of Obamacare.
It’s apparently a trend. According to a piece at Inside Higher Ed:
Youngstown State University is the second institution to be public about cutting adjuncts’ hours to avoid Affordable Care Act-related costs.
The Ohio university announced its plans in a campuswide memo Thursday, hours after an internal department memo from an English professor warning colleagues about the cuts was leaked to the media.
The memo explains,
A provision under the [Affordable Care Act] requires employers to share in the responsibility of providing health insurance to full-time employees. Effective this academic year, part-time faculty will not be allowed to teach more than 24 hours over fall, spring and summer.
What’s more, it’s apparently up to the adjunct faculty to make sure that they absolutely can’t risk qualifying for health insurance. The university memo puts it like this:
It’s crucial that you be vigilant about this cap as you consider additional teaching or tutoring assignments. If you exceed the maximum hours, YSU will not employ you the following year. We will have no recourse.
If you teach or work in another department part-time, it will be the TOTAL number of hours. If you teach in American Studies for six hours, you can teach a maximum of twelve semester-hours here over a year. If you work as a tutor, those hours are also important. Same issue: you cannot go beyond twenty-nine work hours a week.
The college is anxious to avoid incurring additional expenses. After two years of enrolment declines, a new state formula for higher education appropriations will likely result in reduced public funding for Youngstown State.
An article by Tyler Kingkade in the Huffington Post explains that adjunct faculty at Youngstown have virtually no route to fix this problem:
There’s not much YSU’s adjunct professors can do if they’re unhappy about their working conditions because Ohio law doesn’tprovide collective bargaining rights for part-time faculty.
Even if adjunct faculty form a union the university doesn’t have to recognize it.