What is National Adjunct Walkout Day? Today, adjuncts throughout this great land will be doing teach-ins, slow-downs and yes, walking out. Not because they’re greedy or lazy or they want something for nothing. They simply want to be paid a fair wage.
OK, what is an adjunct? An adjunct is a professional college teacher working on a part-time basis. There is absolutely no job security. They must renew their schedules every semester. In many cases they can be fired at any time, for any reason. It doesn’t matter that adjuncts, by definition, have higher degrees: they are part of the working poor.
Who are adjuncts? Some adjuncts teach to earn a little extra cash. Many, though, are doing it as a full-time job, piecing together a crappy income by commuting between two or three or four schools.
What do they earn? Less than $3000 per class. My guess is that most adjuncts gross between $20-30k per year. They don’t get health insurance; it’s not unusual for a college or university to cut adjuncts hours in order to avoid paying for Obamacare.
If it sucks so bad, why do they do it? Because they’re holding out hope for a tenure-track position or at least a contract. Because it’s all they’re trained to do. Because they’re stuck. Because it is extraordinarily difficult to change professions — or even search for another job — while working 60-hour weeks and commuting 2 hours a day.
How can colleges get away with this? For the same reason that many corporations get away with using long-term temps: because they can.
How can I help? A good place to start: donate a few bucks to Precaricorps, which provides financial assistance to needy adjuncts. These folks are indeed needy — underpaid, underemployed, overworked, uninsured. Then: educate yourself. To learn more about the adjunct crisis, click here.
What are you doing to help, Mr. Big Mouth? It ain’t much, but in honor of my struggling colleagues, I am giving away free PDFs of my best-selling novella, Adjunctivitis. All you have to do is email me: gordonhaber at gmail.