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Subject:

New Form of Adjunct Abuse

From:

Dan Kern <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 11 Sep 2008 07:25:18 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (134 lines)

Sept. 11, 2008


New Form of Adjunct Abuse


For many adjuncts, an extra course assignment can make all the difference in
the world. More money, of course. But also the chance to do more teaching at
a single institution. And for some, that extra course may result in a total
teaching load that moves them up a pay scale or entitles them to health
insurance or other benefits.

At San Antonio College, some of those extra courses are coming with an
unusual stipulation. Adjuncts are being encouraged to take on extra courses,
as the institution can't afford to hire as many full timers as it would
like. But San Antonio also has rules - providing benefits and higher base
pay - to those who teach 12 credits or more. What to do? The college is
asking some part timers to take on the extra courses that bring their total
to 12 or beyond, but then to agree in writing to pretend that they aren't
teaching 12 credits.

Concerned faculty members provided Inside Higher Ed with copies of signed
waivers and memos that are used in such situations. A department chair
writes a dean a memo saying that a given adjunct will be teaching just over
12 credits this fall, but then adds that the adjunct is willing to sign a
form so that he doesn't get the benefits to which he would otherwise be
entitled. Then the corresponding waiver, which is notarized, has the same
adjunct certify that he is waiving 1 semester credit of pay, so that he will
be paid for less than 12 credits, even though he has committed to teaching
just over 12 credits. The faculty members who provided the documentation did
so on the condition that the adjuncts who agreed to these terms not be
identified.

Gwendolyn Bradley, who works on adjunct issues for the American Association
of University Professors, said that the practice "seems to mark a new low in
the exploitation of adjunct faculty." She said that the AAUP was requesting
copies of the relevant documents to see if it could help those involved. The
ability of a college to get adjuncts to sign these waivers speaks to the
part timers' need for more courses and income under questionable
circumstances, Bradley said, and to the adjuncts' "lack of any job
security."

Deborah Martin, a spokeswoman for the college, confirmed that some adjuncts
are given waivers to sign as a condition of receiving certain course loads -
and that those waivers involve the adjuncts accepting pay for fewer credits
than they are actually teaching. She said that this isn't the first semester
that this has taken place, and that it's done "to prevent a class
cancellation" when an adjunct qualified to teach a course already is
teaching 9 credits and an additional 3 credits would put the adjunct at 12.

She said that this isn't unfair to adjuncts because it only happens after a
dean has "explained the situation." (Apparently the dean never explained the
situation to the Alamo Community College District, of which the college is a
part. Officials there didn't respond Wednesday to questions, but a district
lawyer told
<http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/SAC_to_halt_waivers_that_sliced
_profs_pay.html> The San Antonio Express-News that it didn't know about the
policy and would try to stop it and compensate those denied pay in this
way.)

Asked if this policy represented an attempt to deny benefits to adjuncts who
should be receiving them, she said that wasn't the case. She said that to be
eligible for benefits, an adjunct would have to work 90 days at 12 credits
and that the full semester is only around 85 days. Asked if some adjuncts
might be teaching consecutive semesters and so lose benefits under this
scenario, she said "we're not trying to keep them from getting benefits."

Why would the college ask adjuncts to accept payment for a smaller credit
load than they are teaching, and to certify this in a notarized form, if
this has nothing to do with denying adjuncts compensation they may have
earned? Martin said "that's a good question." She then said that Ruben
Flores, a college dean who handles adjunct matters (and to whom the waiver
forms authorizing pay for fewer credits than adjuncts are working are
addressed), would explain the rationale for the system. Flores did not
respond to messages.

Martin repeatedly said of the system being used: "It's either that or cancel
the class."

Gerald J. Davey, an adjunct at San Antonio College who has served as the
adjunct representative on the Faculty Council there, did not sign a waiver,
but he has spoken with those who have and is angry about the system being
used. Davey said that, in years past, once an adjunct has had a contract for
12 credits, benefits and higher pay scales have kicked in - and that the
waivers are an attempt to limit what adjuncts receive from the college.

"It's disgusting that they have sunk to this level," he said.

Because adjuncts need the work, they feel that they "have no choice" but to
accept these contracts, even though they are giving up pay (at a minimum for
the extra credit hours) and benefits they deserve, Davey said. Adjuncts are
being told to "take it or leave it," and so go along with the system, he
said. "It's a quid pro quo."

- Scott Jaschik <mailto:[log in to unmask]>

The original story and user comments can be viewed online at
http://insidehighered.com/news/2008/09/11/adjunct
<http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/09/11/adjunct> .

C Copyright 2008 Inside Higher Ed

 


Comments (so far):


Starvation Wages, No Benefits


And if you decide to enforce the policy, courses will be cut, contracts
voided, and these adjuncts will sink deeper into poverty. When would anyone
sign such a waiver? Because for the short term, enough money to feed a
family one more semester and keep from bankruptcy trumps the long term need
for benefits. I've known that level of desperation way back when. You charge
in on your white horses to end it, you'll feel great about yourself as they
sink even lower because of your "help." The system needs reform in "head and
members." Unless both ends of the problem are dealt with honestly, you'll
just make more people miserable. Just love that business model infecting
administrations today. Using adjuncts turns a dandy profit, but is akin to
slavery. And some never want it to change.

Diogenes, at 7:55 am EDT on September 11, 2008

 


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