PBS NewsHour: Adjuncts in Higher Ed.

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PBS NewsHour story, broadcast nationally on February 6, focuses on the plight of low-paid adjuncts. Includes interview with New Paltz Chapter President Peter D.G. Brown, Watch now: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/videos/#62335

Congress Takes Note

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WASHINGTON — It’s time for Congress to pay attention to the abuse of adjunct faculty members, and the way their poor working conditions impact not only them, but their students, says a new report from the House Education and the Workforce Committee. While the report largely endorses previous studies on the subject, “The Just-In-Time Professor” document marks the first time Congress has so formally acknowledged a situation that adjunct activists have long deemed exploitative.

“The contingent faculty trend appears to mirror trends in the general labor market toward a flexible, ‘just-in-time’ workforce, with lower compensation and unpredictable schedules for what were once considered middle-class jobs,” says the report from the office of Rep. George Miller, the senior committee Democrat, from California. “The trend should be of concern to policymakers both because of what it means for the living standards and the work lives of those individuals we expect to educate the next generation of scientists, entrepreneurs, and other highly skilled workers, and what it may mean for the quality of higher education itself.”

Class Warfare in Academe

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Essay by Peter D.G. Brown

Class warfare in the academy is unlikely to end any time soon. Meanwhile, we urgently need to connect the dots, to stop underfunding and privatizing public higher education. At the same time, we need to put an end to wasteful spending and overly generous perks that top administrators dole out to themselves. Saddling our students with backbreaking tuition loan debt is simply unsustainable. They, their parents, taxpayers and legislators deserve to know where their hard-earned tuition and tax dollars are going. The quality of their education and thus the future of our country depend on providing a living wage, job security and benefits to those actually teaching in our classrooms.
Read more here.

Faculty Demand Fair Pay For All

Faculty members at SUNY New Paltz, whose salaries have stagnated for years, are determined to take action. Thus far, the departments of Anthropology, Art History, Educational Studies, Elementary Education, Library, Sociology, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies have unanimously passed a Resolution for Fair Pay, and more are expected to follow suit in the coming days.

The resolution calls for the College to award raises to those who had previously been recommended for discretionary salary increases (DSI) in 2011 and 2012. The measure also supports a higher starting salary for adjuncts, over 200 part-time lecturers who teach a substantial number of introductory and specialized courses at the College.

According to UUP chapter President Peter D.G. Brown, pay for adjuncts has plummeted by 49% since the 1970s, when adjusted for inflation. At its Delegate Assembly earlier this month, United University Professions (UUP) overwhelmingly supported a $5K Campaign to pay adjuncts a minimum starting salary of $5,000 per three-credit course.

“This is an intolerable situation,” Brown said. “Faculty morale has never been lower in the 42 years that I have been at the College. People are very demoralized, angry and frustrated. Many younger faculty members are actively looking for jobs elsewhere, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to hire good faculty to come and work under these depressing conditions.”

Because the state’s previous contract with the union (UUP) expired in July 2011 and a new one was not in place until July 2013, employees were not paid any DSI during that period. The Resolution for Fair Pay also calls for adjusting the workload of 75 full-time lecturers, whose teaching load is higher at New Paltz than at any of the other comparable colleges in SUNY.

Employees saw their paychecks shrink even further this fall with the imposition of unpaid furlough days and higher mandated premiums for health insurance. According to Brown, “While ignoring the deplorable situation of its current employees, this administration evidently has plenty of money to hire new faculty and lavishly reward former administrators. This is truly an intolerable situation!”Resolution, Elem Ed, 10-13

Departments that have passed this Resolution for Fair Pay at SUNY New Paltz:

Anthropology, Art History, Educational Studies, Elementary Education, Library, Sociology, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies.

This Resolution has also been endorsed by the Student Senate of the Student Association of SUNY New Paltz.