I was downtown this morning with members of the p-fac, which represents the part-time adjunct faculty at Chicago’s Columbia College.
P-fac’s president, Diana Vallera, views the strike as an important action, not just for the adjuncts at Columbia, but the the 60% of college and university teaching staff across the country that are part-time and adjunct faculty members.
That too often means low pay, no benefits, no possibility of tenure, no right to complain or file grievances, large class size and working semester to semester.
I interviewed Diana along with my friend and theater teacher at Columbia, Andy Dymond, and Prexy Nesbitt who has taught at Columbia for 30 years.
My short interviews with Diana, Andy and Prexy will start off Friday’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers live at 11am on Chicago’s 105.5fm. We will also be joined in-studio with long-time political strategist and consultant Delmarie Cobb.
The situation facing adjuncts is dire.
My friend Glen Brown, who taught as an adjunct professor at Benedictine University for years, recently wrote:
It is well known that adjunct faculty work without job security, without the benefit of healthcare, and without an ethical living wage. Most universities’ priorities are their development of building projects and technology, management of revenues and investments and reducing operating costs, administrative/bureaucratic positions and salaries, and athletic programs and their resources. “…The truth is that teaching is a diminishing priority in universities. Years of American Association of University Professors (AAUP) reports indicate that budgets for instruction are proportionally shrinking. Universities now devote less than one-third of their expenditures to instruction. Meanwhile, administrative positions have increased at more than 10 times the rate of tenured faculty positions. [Of course], sports and amenities are much more fun [and profitable]…” (Birmingham).
There is no equity for adjunct instructors. Courses staffed with contingent adjunct faculty cost the same student tuition and provide the same credits staffed by tenured full-time faculty. Adjunct faculty grade compositions and tests, write recommendations and advise students, devise and develop classes, create lesson plans and course materials and improve curricula, among other unpaid responsibilities.
There are no due process protections for adjunct faculty. There is no equal pay for equal work. There is no professional advancement. There is no equity in the lack of health insurance and retirement benefits available for adjunct faculty. There is little to no inclusion in the way higher education’s formal decision-making procedures and structures are made. Indeed, adjunct faculty are simply part-time contractors, “lecturers,” or non-essential “marginalized” hires who are disenfranchised from high-level governance and required to carry out most of the responsibilities of the full-time faculty (and sometimes at multiple institutions), but for less than one-fifth of the salary of the full-time faculty and without meaningful job security from one semester to another.
If you can, join the striking faculty at Columbia on Friday at 12 PM, 600 S. Michigan Avenue, Room 1309 B, at 11:50 AM. The next bargaining session will start at noon.
And tune into Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers.