Last fall an adjunct professor, who wishes to remain anonymous, created a Facebook page titled “National Adjunct Walkout Day” and posted the following: “On February 25, 2015, adjuncts across the country will come together to insist on fair wages and better working conditions.”
Since 2000, various faculty and union groups have participated in Campus Equity Week to increase awareness of the inequities faced by contingent faculty members. But this call for a walkout is a different strategy that has attracted interest across the country—and rightly so, because though the approach may be new, the problem is not.
In the 1970s, colleges and universities, mimicking corporate America, embarked on a policy whereby students would be taught by a huge cadre of faculty members teaching off the more lucrative and secure tenure track, largely earning low pay, few or no benefits, and no job security. These contingent faculty members now account for about 75 percent of the professoriate, surpassing one million in number.
This separate-but-unequal labor system, where the minority of tenured faculty members rule over the majority of contingents, is mirrored in academic unions, which have been chiefly run by and for the tenured faculty. Union contracts generally treat the tenured faculty members like full academic citizens, while the contingents are denied equal treatment at every turn. <Read more.>