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CCAC to cut workloads, avoid paying staffers' health care

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Clay Morgan is among about 200 part-time instructors at Community College of Allegheny County who face cuts in their teaching loads so that CCAC does not have to provide them health care coverage.

The change is a response to a requirement in the new federal health care law that employers offer coverage to employees working 30 hours a week or more. Morgan, who teaches political science, fears he'll have to buy insurance. The law requires people whose employers don't offer coverage to buy it.

CCAC is the first college in Western Pennsylvania to announce such a change. Officials with the New Faculty Majority, a national nonprofit group that advocates for part-time college and university faculty, said they fear CCAC's move could trigger a domino effect.

“We haven't seen it yet, but we expect it will happen,” said Matt Williams, the group's vice president.

Williams said the move could be significant. Colleges rely on part-time adjunct faculty to teach 60 to 70 percent of courses.

The law, championed by President Obama and commonly known as Obamacare, is expected to make health care available to 32 million more Americans.

Morgan, 34, has taught at CCAC for six years. Although he teaches four classes a semester, or 12 credit hours, he is considered a part-time instructor and gets no health care benefits. CCAC will cap his load at 10 credit hours, a move that likely will cost him a class and about $2,200 a semester. That equates to about a 25 percent pay cut.

The cap, announced in a letter from CCAC President Alex Johnson, cites a provision in the law that will require employers with 50 or more workers to offer health insurance to anyone working 30 hours or more a week starting in 2014.

“This decision was no easy one,” Johnson wrote, acknowledging the role part-time faculty play at CCAC, where they teach 56 percent of all credit classes.

“I'll be losing hours at a time when I'm expected to begin paying thousands of dollars a year for health insurance,” Morgan said. He said he teaches at two other schools and works as a writer to make ends meet.

CCAC spokesman David Hoovler said the school, which is funded through state and county contributions and student tuition, does not have the additional $6 million it would take to make health care available to its part-time faculty and another group of 200 temporary part-time staffers. Hoovler said permanent part-time support staff covered by the Service Employees International Union's contract have access to health care benefits, though at higher premiums than full-time employees.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com.

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