Adjunct professors, students protest work conditions

From Oakland Tribune:

College students and professors in the Bay Area and across the country demonstrated on Wednesday to call attention to the growing ranks of part-time and temporary faculty who are paid far less than their tenured colleagues, with little job security.

At San Francisco Art Institute, students planned a noon walkout and march to support their professors, most of whom work on short-term contracts.

"Tuition at SFAI is almost $40,000 a year, plus fees," said senior Ross McKinney, who was quoted in a news release from SEIU Local 1021. "It's just unconscionable that 85 percent of our professors are not paid even a living wage and don't have access to something as basic as health care."

While colleges have long hired part-time faculty -- particularly, those with jobs and niche expertise in certain fields -- they have increasingly replaced tenured professors with this cheaper, temporary pool of workers as a way to cut costs.

 

According to SEIU, some adjunct faculty members work more than 40 hours a week and are paid as little as $30,000 a year, without health benefits. About 70 percent of college professors nationwide were working on temporary contracts in 2011, compared to 43 percent in 1975 and 57 percent in 1993, according to a 2013 analysis of U.S. Department of Education data by the American Association of University Professors.

Recently, adjunct or contingent faculty -- typically defined as those who are neither tenured nor on the tenure-track -- have begun to organize and demand better benefits, longer contracts, and in some cases, the ability to advance.

In 2014, faculty formed SEIU unions at five private colleges in the Bay Area: Mills College and California College of the Arts in Oakland, Saint Mary's College in Moraga, San Francisco Art Institute and Dominican University in San Rafael.

Saint Mary's and California College of the Arts planned to set up informational tables on Wednesday, while Mills College and UC Berkeley each organized a forum to discuss how the trend is affecting the quality of education at those campuses.

Read the full story here.