Skip to main content
Full Menu
News Stories

California adjuncts get organized

New York Teacher

Adjunct professors are organizing unions at a growing number of colleges across the country, especially in California, where part-time faculty at almost a dozen colleges are now in the midst of organizing drives or first-time contract negotiations.

The instructors’ main issues are lack of job security, inadequate health benefits and pay so low that some adjuncts must teach classes at several campuses to make ends meet.

“A living wage is really crucial,” said Andrea Bowers, an adjunct at Otis College of Art and Design, where faculty voted in late December to unionize with the Service Employees International Union. “It’s no surprise that the SEIU is simultaneously organizing McDonald’s workers and part-time college teachers.”

Bowers said she is typically paid $3,000 for each class she teaches at Otis, plus $1,000 to mentor students’ studio work. She also juggles a professional art career and teaching assignments elsewhere. Adjuncts’ median pay per course at all two-year and four-year schools in 2010 was just $2,700.

The spike in adjunct organizing reflects schools’ use of more part-time faculty in place of hiring tenure-track professors. Around half of the faculty at U.S. colleges and universities held full-time positions in 2011, down from 77 percent 40 years earlier. Part-timers teach roughly one-fourth of all classes at research universities and more than one-third of all classes at community colleges.

Los Angeles Times, Jan. 3

Related Topics: National News