Adjunct News

Taylor Fontes

NEA Votes to Press Labor Dept. on Unemployment Benefits for Adjuncts

Posted on: July 10th, 2012 by Taylor Fontes No Comments

Thanks to an overwhelming vote of the Representative Assembly of the National Education Association, adjuncts may now have an easier time collecting unemployment if they experience a lapse in employment. Federal unemployment insurance guidelines are restrictive in order to prevent exploitation of the system, however they fail to take into account that adjuncts are much more vulnerable to losing their jobs either temporarily, as in the summer months, or permanently due to circumstances such as low enrollment. The NEA is to collaborate with its Contingent Faculty Caucus, which was formed three years ago to function as a collective voice for adjuncts who may not be as effective on their own, to provide language to the Department of Labor to use in a letter which would clarify that adjuncts lack “reasonable assurance” of being employed in the future. So far there has been little resistance to the measure and it has been has been endorsed by the National Council for Higher education.

To read the full article by Peter Schmidt go to:

http://chronicle.com/article/NEA-Votes-to-Press-Labor-Dept/132793/

Taylor Fontes

Voting Rights for Adjuncts

Posted on: June 28th, 2012 by Taylor Fontes No Comments

The AAUP has released a report today that officially announces support for adjuncts to be able to join their tenured and tenure-track faculty members in full voting rights and eligibility to hold office, and be compensated accordingly.   Generally speaking, the report asserts that given the proportion of faculty off the tenure track (75%) there is substantial underrepresentation of contingent faculty in governing activities.   This is further evidence of the inequities that exist between tenured and non-tenured faculty.  In fact, the report says that the word “faculty” should be used to describe all professors regardless of status, as long as one assumes independent teaching responsibilities.

The AAUP acknowledges in the report that policies tend to be geared toward full-time and tenured faculty and that this is inherently exclusive and discriminatory.  The AAUP advocates for adjuncts to be able to vote, have their vote count as a full vote regardless of course load, and be eligible to run for office.

The AAUP holds the position that contingent faculty “may be restricted” from evaluating tenured or tenure-track faculty on the basis that qualifications and job duties for contingent faculty vary across institutions.  While many adjuncts may engage in activities and assume responsibilities that transcend the classroom, their primary role is to teach.  However, as Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority points out, there are likely to be many contingent faculty who have more experience than their freshman tenure-track counterparts making them better qualified to evaluate their non-tenure track colleagues.  The AAUP concurs with this line of reasoning.

This is another critical step in the right direction for adjuncts to attain equal footing in their profession.  All professors want what is best for their students and the institutions that employ them.  Indeed, most adjuncts would like to be on the tenure-track, and the AAUP would like to see this as the exclusive trajectory for the professoriate in the future.  But in the meantime, if we want to promote the term “faculty” as all-inclusive, then we must do so for governance as well.

To read the full article by Kaustuv Basu go to:

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/06/28/aaup-report-stresses-need-adjunct-involvement-governance

To read the AAUP report go to:

http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/newsroom/2012webhighlight/congovreport.htm

Taylor Fontes

Non-Tenure-Track Economics

Posted on: June 21st, 2012 by Taylor Fontes 1 Comment

A new study on adjunct work conditions was released on Wednesday which both supports what we have already been saying while filling in the gaps of data which was lacking up until now.  The survey was conducted by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW) using a method called crowdsourcing.  Crowdsourcing a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people.  Since the CAW is composed of 26 disciplinary institutions and unions, this was the most feasible method to employ.  The sample is not random or representative but 10,000 part-time faculty members responded leading many in the field, including Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, to accept the findings as meaningful and therefore a potential catalyst for real form.

The survey provides a slew of data including average and median salaries based on length of service, types and amounts of courses taught, unionized vs. non-unionized, and more.  Most of what the survey gathered was not surprising.  But, according to Maisto, the findings provide concrete evidence that contradicts the commonly held myth that the majority of adjuncts teach part-time for their own amusement rather than to make a living wage and build a career.   Coalition members hope that a research report of this scale will function as a “tool for reform” on the part of administrators who hold the fate of these faculty members in their hands.

While I am a sincere champion of survey research and its power to effect much needed change, I would like to raise one issue which I find perplexing: why do we need to tell administrators what they already know?  They are the ones that determine the compensation and benefits, or lack thereof, of their personnel.  They know how little they are paying their part-time professors.  They may act as though they are oblivious to the staggering inequalities that exist on their campuses, but this is preposterous.  The power that the survey does have, however, is to let them know that we know.   Perhaps being exposed in this way will force them to finally own up to what they know and to  take the real action to better the working conditions for adjuncts once and for all.

To read the full article by Kaustuv Basu go to:

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/06/20/adjunct-survey-paints-bleak-portrait

To read the full survey report go to:

http://www.academicworkforce.org/survey.html