Academe’s part-time instructors have long complained about low pay and poor working conditions, and now their protests are finally being heard.
By joining together in labor unions, part-time instructors at several colleges have managed in recent years to win major improvements in their pay, benefits, job security, and overall working conditions. And even where they could not unionize, such instructors have used greater activism to send the message that there are limits to their exploitation by college administrations seeking to stretch instructional budgets.
“Five years ago, we were still trying to get people to understand there is a problem,” says Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, an advocacy group for contingent academic workers formed in 2009. Now, Ms. Maisto says, a growing consensus around the difficulties faced by adjuncts means college administrators can no longer “pretend that the conditions of adjunct faculty don’t need to be addressed.”
For their part, college administrators have begun to see payoffs—educational, financial, and otherwise—in taking steps to make adjunct instructors feel more satisfied and supported in their work. <Read more.>