In the last year, there have been some notable successes for part-time faculty members pushing for better wages and benefits. Through unions, legislative hearings and political activism, the issue of part timers’ treatment has started to capture the attention not just of faculty activists, but of university administrators, too.
But what about states where adjuncts are plentiful but not unionized, where they must rely on good will more than political clout to win improvements in their wages and benefits? The situation at these campuses rarely makes headlines or even the agendas of board meetings.
For the adjuncts at the six universities and 13 community colleges governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents, the solution they came up with was to ask politely. They worked with administrators to craft and re-craft a proposal to raise the maximum pay offered to adjuncts so that someone working a 5-5 course load (the kind of load that many tenure-track faculty members would consider unworkable) could be assured the chance of topping $20,000 in annual income. They weren’t even talking about such matters as health insurance (which isn’t provided).
If these salary levels are surprising, it may be because they are frequently off the radar screen. The definitive annual survey of faculty salaries by the American Association of University Professors excludes part timers, so the institutions where the part timers in this article work don’t have their averages deflated by these pay levels.
After two years of encouraging meetings organized by AAUP leaders in Tennessee, the board — through its presidents council — decided this month that the current policy works just fine, and that there will be no increases in pay maximums.
The academics who pushed the plan — which would seem moderate compared to adjunct wish lists elsewhere — say that they have pretty much run out of ideas and that they have no recourse except to tell their stories.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tennessee's Higher Education Sweatshops
Ah, my home state, the buckle of the Racist Belt and major exploiter of cheap labor, even at the universities. Try 6-6 loads and no health insurance for adjuncts, all for under 20K. Lamar Alexander must be beaming. From Inside Higher Ed: