HB 1144 and Its Impact on Non-tenure Track Teachers (NTTF) in Colorado:Some FAQsPrepared by the Colorado Conference,American Association of University Professors (AAUP)
(1) What impact does HB1144 directly have on the “at will” clause in the 3-year NTTF contractsauthorized by the bill?
HB 1144 eliminates the at will concept in contracts for a fixed term. The previous law requiredthat "at will" language be placed in every contract, regardless of whether there was a specifiedterm of employment. HB 1144 makes the law about contracts logical: if you're hired for a term,that's the length of the contract. If you're fired or quit during that time, either party has groundsfor legal action for breach of contract. There was no viable legal basis to proceed under the oldlaw because the statutorily-required principle of at will employment nullified any other contractrules.
(2) Does HB1144 imply a different type of 3-year contract to NTTF than what currently existswithin academic units that can possess little to no protection to NTTF?
HB 1144 does not create a different type of contract. It makes contracts enforceable. Teachers canbe hired for up to three years, less than three years, or as employees at will if no time is specified.The new law just makes hiring sensible. If we want a teacher for one year, we say so. If more,then that's specified. The old law required the contract in all cases would be "at will," which wasa contradiction on its face for most non-tenure track teachers who worked for a stated period of time.
(3) Can HB1144 have implications relative to a responsibility at the university level (e.g.,Provost or Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs) to monitor internally and/or report externallyon the content, structure, or administration of 3-year NTTF contracts?
HB 1144 does not have any implications for the level of action. Any administrator with authorityto enter into a contract for teaching can do so without any consequences under the law. But unlessupper level administrators are just ignorant about what's happening, they will probably developcollege or university level guidelines for hiring NTTFs. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be getting anadministrator’s paycheck.
(4) Can HB1144 motivate provisions of due process at the university level (e.g., Provost or Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs) addressing the administration of 3-year contracts to NTTF atthe department or college level?
No. The 2011 version of HB 1144 tried to protect NTTFs by requiring procedural due process. Itwas soundly rejected in committee because universities, prominently including CU, sent theirlobbyists down to cry wolf to the legislature. It worked. Rep. Fischer took the idea out of thisyear's proposal.