Wednesday, February 25, 2015

National Adjunct Walkout Day

I've seen places that don't treat their employees well. One particular company that I got to know somewhat well was in the habit of hiring temp employees through an agency, then letting the temps go just when the choices were either that or hire the temp on full time. Despite there being a constant need for work, and certainly room for many full time employees, this was what the company chose to do for those positions where new people can easily be trained. It seemed to me that there was a casual certainty that more employees could always be found, and when I did happen to see complaints being raised (such as being overworked with overtime every week) they were dismissed.

I understand that businesses exist to make money. And I'm fine with using temp employees for some things...like if there's a specific job that needs to be done, and then the job will vanish. That's fine. Or even temp to hire, I totally get that. But using it as a way to avoid giving benefits, and denying people job security when the position isn't actually going away...that just seems wrong to me.

Although it isn't exactly the same situation, I was reminded of my previous experiences/observations when I learned about National Adjunct Walkout Day.

I had already been aware that things aren't so great for adjunct faculty at colleges. From talking with one such professor I'd already known that he had no job security, and that it wasn't such a great situation for him and many others. Today when he canceled class for the walkout I also learned that he is only paid based on time spent in class, he has no retirement benefits, and receives no healthcare through our university.

While I know that the decision to hire adjunct faculty rather than bringing someone on full time must be at least partially motivated by cost, and I certainly don't know the financial situation of every institution, it seems like the least a college could do would be to offer job security and benefits to someone they plan to keep around.

Like realizing that the temps were treated as disposable, having a better understanding of what adjunct faculty deal with leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And it seems to me that something needs to change.

Also, from a purely personal standpoint, how I can expect the best education possible from someone who is worried about job security rather than just focusing on being the best teacher they can be? Even if you don't care about our teachers, think about us students.

If you want to learn more, you might want to read this interview, which was shared by the professor who canceled class. He also shared the following flyer, which I was able to trace back to coming from this page.

Adjunct Faculty Facts

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