The plight of temporary, part-time college instructors is getting attention, if not action.
Adjunct college instructors complain of low pay, few benefits, shifting schedules and no job security in The Just-in-Time Professor. The report was compiled from an online forum set up by Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat.
Most respondents said they make $2,000 to $3,500 per three-credit course or an average of $24,926 a year, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.
More than 60 respondents reported salaries that would put them beneath the federal poverty line for a three-person family. Some respondents said they were on federal assistance programs like Medicaid or food stamps. One added: “During the time I taught at the community college, I earned so little that I sold my plasma on Tuesdays and Thursdays to pay for [my child’s] daycare costs.”
On top of low pay, 75 percent of the respondents who discussed the topic said they did not receive benefits—either because their employer didn’t offer them or because they were otherwise ineligible. One adjunct wrote: “The health care plan that I could buy into costs more than my take-home pay on even a good year. My retirement plan is to work until they bury me.”
In Equality for Contingent Faculty: Overcoming the Two-Tier System, edited by Keith Hoeller, 11 activists propose solutions to the “two-tier system.”
Three-fourths of college faculty are “contingent,” a nearly tenfold increase since 1975, according to the writers. That divides the faculty into haves and have-nots. The book describes successful organizing efforts.
Marcia Newfield and Rosalind Petchesky have advanced degrees and decades of experience teaching at City University of New York, reports NBC. As an adjunct, Newfield earns $3,622 for each of the two classes she teaches each semester at Borough of Manhattan Community College. She now has health insurance but “no job security, disability benefits, permanent office, or input in her department’s curriculum, and only a meager pension.” Petchesky, a “distinguished” professor with tenure, makes about $144,000 a year.