National Adjunct Action Week Feb 23-27 2015 Calls Attention to Equity Issues
With middle-class wages stagnating and the rich getting richer, income inequality has
become a rallying cry for Democrats and Republicans alike. Reviving opportunity for all resonates with Americans who feel left out as growth picks up and the stock market reaches record highs, writes Keith Naughton, Lynn Doan, and Jeff Green.
More and more people are realizing the extent to which part-time, temporary workers are exploited at colleges and universities across the nation. The National Adjunct Action Day planned for February 25 is an effort by part-time (adjunct) faculty members to raise awareness of the rise of contingent (part-time) labor in academia.
During National Adjunct Action Week, Feb. 23-27, AFT-represented adjuncts join with actions that range from creative picketing to teach-ins to in-class explanations of adjunct exploitation, “Adjunct Ally” stickers, and “scarlet A” t-shirts. These will call attention to and illustrate the stigma of being an adjunct and the commitment to changing adjuncts’ status from second-class workers to well-respected, well-trained, well-paid workers with benefits and supportive working conditions.
According to my union’s talking points:
- Adjuncts account for 76% of all instruction in American higher education (American Association of University Professors). In 1969, only 21% were adjunct positions.
- Adjuncts have the same qualifications as tenured faculty. We have MAs and PhDs, have published, won accolades, and given presentations –just like tenured faculty.
- Adjuncts work for low to poverty wages, and earn less than 50% than tenured faculty for teaching the same course. Many adjuncts have to teach at two or more more colleges to get a full load.
- Adjuncts usually only get paid for the time they are teaching in the classroom, not for preparation or reading papers. They are not typically paid for office hours and receive no or few benefits (I get paid for one office hour A SEMESTER; yesterday alone I spent 4-5 hours writing letters of recommendation for scholarships).
- Adjuncts have no job security. They can be laid off at any time. Incomes can change radically month to month, term to term. Few have the option of teaching summer school.
- Adjuncts get little or no professional support and lack access to offices, conference travel money, and secretarial assistance.
- Adjuncts are not paid to help with student advising or for committee work. The high number of adjuncts impacts students and institutions negatively.
- Adjuncts lack the protection of tenure; academic freedom is weakened.
Even if wages are naturally driven down when the adjunct-professor labor market becomes flooded with Ph.D.s, Trevithick insists that adjuncts should be compensated more fairly in comparison to their tenured counterparts: “It’s a question of equal pay for equal work,” he said. Read more about the issue here
My local AFT Union is asking all part-time faculty members to wear the A for Adjunct stickers to raise awareness on campus. Teach-ins were also held at Ventura and Moorpark Colleges this morning.
For more information, visit National Adjunct Walkout Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Adjunct-Walkout-Day/340019999501000 or the National Adjunct Tumblr at http://nationaladjunct.tumblr.com/
This is just one example of many of how “U.S. labor movement is reasserting itself,” writes Keith Naughton, Lynn Doan, and Jeff Green. “From the ports of Los Angeles to the car plants of Detroit, unions are demanding payback for sacrifices they say helped revive the economy.” Read more about how Unions are making a comeback.