Rep. George Miller announces eForum on contingent academic labor

Important news, folks! Rep. George Miller has just announced an eForum on contingent faculty. This is a big opportunity to let policymakers know how contingency is affecting the lives of front-line academic workers and their students. Details are below.

[Chris Goff]
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Press Office: 202-226-0853
Monday, November 19, 2013

Miller Announces eForum on Adjunct Faculty in Higher Education

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today announced an eForum to investigate how an increased reliance on contingent faculty by colleges and universities nationwide has impacted the lives of faculty as well as students’ higher education.

“This eForum is an opportunity for adjuncts and other contingent faculty to inform the Congress about what’s happening on the ground with higher education. I think there is a huge lack of understanding of what it means to be in the adjunct world,” said Rep. Miller. Rep. Miller raised the idea of an internet forum for receiving adjuncts’ stories and comments at a committee hearing last week.

“We should all be alarmed about what’s been happening to higher education labor over the last couple decades,” Rep. Miller later elaborated. “Tuition keeps skyrocketing.  Yet the people doing the bulk of the work educating college students are getting less and less compensation. There are adjuncts who make between $2000 and $3000 per course for a semester, with no benefits.  There are adjuncts on food stamps. I think the Congress should be taking a serious look at this phenomenon.”

In the last 40 years, there has been a spike in the number of adjunct faculty at colleges and universities as schools look for ways to cut costs. According to some estimates, approximately 75 percent of instructional faculty members are off the tenure track, with the number of part-time faculty increasing at three times the rate of full-time faculty members over the last 15 years. The average contingent faculty makes approximately $2900 per course, approximately 60 percent less than comparable full-time tenure track and tenured faculty, according to the Adjunct Project. Furthermore, only about 22 percent of part-time faculty members are provided some form of benefits.

The purpose of the eForum is to assess the impact of this growing use of contingent faculty.  Rep. Miller is interested in hearing from adjunct and other contingent faculty about their job satisfaction and working conditions, and how those conditions affect the state of higher education in this nation.

The eForum can be found on the Committee Democrats website: http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/eforum 

One Response to Rep. George Miller announces eForum on contingent academic labor

  1. Blanca S. Bolton November 23, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    To the Honorable Congressman George Miller,

    I have worked as a part time ESL adjunct professor with Santa Barbara Community College Continuing Education for 33 years. I have had a part time / temporary status for the entire time. This means that I could only teach a maximum of 15 hours per week with no benefits.

    The economic contingencies that our country has been living under since 2008 have been a fact of life for my family since my two sons were 4 and 6 years old; they are 26 and 28 now. Every time my husband, who was employed by the private sector, lost his job we would lose all our family’s medical and dental benefits.

    I once applied for credit with the local teacher’s credit union but was denied because I was part time and temporary. Only after receiving a call from our Dean did they approve my credit. (I had put in more that 20 years of continuous service at the time)

    I am passionate about teaching and excel at my craft, that is why I have stayed so long. It is, however, very unfair that we teachers work at an educational institution of the United States of America and are treated without respect and honor. We do not have benefits that all other full time employees are afforded but yet are expected to be on the front lines and to do what we do best, teach day in and day out.

    I have a friend who has worked for the college for 25 years on a full time status as a supervisor for facilities management. He will retire with full benefits this year as he has met the time requirement. I have surpassed the time requirement but because I was part time / temp, will never have the benefits he will be afforded.

    I ask only for what is fair, allow us to teach a full time load, give us benefits that all other full time employees are afforded. I am willing to work the needed amount of hours and have done so for five years by working at another community college(Ventura Community College).
    Perhaps you have heard of our us, “Freeway Flyers”, as that is what we must do to make a living wage. We work at several colleges and universities to make ends meet, due to the maximum hours limit at each institution. This limit is set to keep us on a part time status.

    I love what I do, I have helped thousands of students learn to speak and write English. I will continue to do so with excellence as I consider it a privilege.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Blanca Salazar Bolton