Sunday, November 3, 2013

adjunct crisis infographic

We received this from someone and thought it was worthwhile posting. Thanks for taking the time to make it!

Nevertheless, we should point out a couple of things. First, just because we're posting this infographic does not mean we endorse the website online-phd-programs. Second, we also don't quite agree with the average salary for tenured faculty listed in the infographic. Certainly some tenured professors earn well over 100k, but many do not. Visit the HigherEd jobs link for a more detailed breakdown of tenured faculty salaries.

Given these caveats, how do we view this infographic? Well, by in large the numbers of adjunct is spot on and we support the message of injustice and inequality that is behind it.

Un-Hired Ed: The Growing Adjunct Crisis
Source: Online-PhD-Programs.org

Friday, October 4, 2013

our temporary new look

There have been some ongoing problems with Blogger's dynamic views-- namely, that they don't seem to load properly for some sites and in some browsers. Given these problems, we've decided to revert to this simpler layout. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused and as always, thanks for checking in.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

adjuncts and fragmentation

So this is the first year when I’ve actually started to get more involved in adjunct organizing. And I’ve quickly realized that one of the major problems for us is fragmentation. For example, there are no less than 9+ adjunct organizations related to CUNY. There are also at least 2 nation-wide organizations I know of, and of course, there are countless smaller, school-based organizations.

Here’s a list:

CUNY-centered
Nation-Wide
I don’t think this fragmentation is an accident. The main reason for such fragmentation is the nature of an exploited labor force. Like all exploited labor, most of us are usually just struggling to survive on pennies (no exaggeration). These conditions result in folks who are usually too busy to put in the time and effort to galvanize and develop a unified movement— can you imagine building a large company where you and all the workers also work full time in other jobs?!


Additionally, those at the top (the ones doing the exploiting) are strongly vested in keeping us fragmented. Imagine what the Hunter Adjuncts movement would be like if we had space to meet regularly at Hunter (instead of having to fight for office space to meet with students!)! Or imagine if adjuncts who make up a large majority of the teaching faculty CUNY-wide had their own union (a pet wish of mine; after MANY years, no one has yet been able to fully convince me that being a part of CUNY’s full-time faculty union is really the best thing for CUNY’s part-time faculty!).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cancelled Classes? Time to fight back.

Is this happening at other schools?

Hunter Teaches is hearing massive reports that classes, especially in sociology but in all departments have been cancelled last minute for both the summer and fall due to either lack of enrollment or lack of space.

Adjuncts are the epitome of precarious workers--if we lose just one class, we stand to lose a full 1/3 of our entire income, but are still forced to teach our other classes, leaving us with a very limited schedule to take other jobs unless we want to risk quitting and never being able to teach at CUNY again. When we lose a class, we don't qualify for unemployment, but are forced to below poverty wages.

Similarly, students who have their class cancelled risk not being able to graduate on time which can destroy their entire post-college year(s), as well as losing new work schedules, having to enroll for another entire semester, and losing thousands of dollars of tuition money.

This is unacceptable when it happens to a few of us a semester, and we always take it lying down. Are we going to keep standing by as individuals as this happens on a more massive scale not just to other adjuncts but to our students as well?

Please respond to this email if you had your class cancelled. Hunter has an enormous bureaucracy devoted to scheduling, and there is no reason this should be happening. We are able to have our classes cancelled and receive no compensation because we have never shown we won't take it. We need to prove we will not just be available for hire and fire at the whim of the school, and that they need to reorganize the schedules or pay adjuncts for our prep time and for our lost wages!

hunter.teaches@gmail.com

Monday, May 6, 2013

Response from Psych Department and Event Reminder

Reminder: Tomorrow (Tuesday May 7th) "office hours" action and speak out in response to poor working conditions of all workers and students, and in particular with regards to the mistreatment in psychology. The event is on the 1st Floor of HW Lobby and begins at 4PM! EVERY ADJUNCT/PRECARIOUS WORKER/STUDENT welcome!

In response to our recent letter to the Psychology Department Chair, Vanya Quinones-Jenab, about the working conditions of contingent teaching staff in the Department we received an email on Thursday, which was -- to say the least -- underwhelming in its recognition of our dire conditions.

The basic premise of the response was to reject our concerns by
  1. referring to other bad practices (e.g. pointing to the fact that other colleges and departments also treat their adjuncts poorly, by e.g. not providing any or sufficient office space),
  2. referring to the collective bargaining agreement and the union's failure to provide us a contract that would allow the demands we put forward as a way of refuting any responsibility for what goes on in the department, or 
  3. by merely justifying and normalizing the bad practices of the department (i.e. by suggesting that a class size of 275 students taught by adjuncts and GTFs is considered normal).
The issue which had brought on our writing a letter, the threat to academic freedom in an environment of paradigm policing connected to contingent faculty's job insecurity, was glossed over and disregarded entirely.

While nothing in the response was surprising, but rather in line with the dismissive approach and utter lack of regard for the contributions of contingent faculty in the department from management, it shows the urgent need for us to continue organizing and fighting independently against our bad contract and our increasingly normalized difficult working conditions.

Finally, the letter ended with a general disregard of adjuncts' PERCEPTION OF REALITY by employing THE TRUTH, at least from management's perspective:
I truly regret that you consider that our department visualizes your existence as 'paradoxically invisible.' This is far from the truth—and your perception at least this time is far from the reality." 
A fight over defining truth and reality is at the core of political struggle and quite honestly this response letter makes us concerned about what kind of reality the Department finds itself in. Apparently, the version of truth that exploits and disciplines adjuncts and GTFs is not an issue or concern to the Department. We beg to differ.

We are excited about the event tomorrow and to continue to expose publicly the absurdity of what is going on in the Psychology Department as just one example of what is going on at our campus and beyond and through this continue our struggle.

In Struggle,
Psychology Adjuncts and Hunter Teaches

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Demand Letter to Psychology & Action 5/7

Dear fellow adjuncts,
Over the last few weeks, adjuncts in the psychology department (which has 120 adjuncts making up 80% of faculty) drafted the following letter in cooperation with adjuncts in Hunter Teaches from other departments and in conversation with students. The letter lists our demands around working conditions, and also demands a meeting before the end of next week and a response to this letter by Monday May 6th. We know it is a short amount of time, but we figure since adjuncts are often given less than a week notice to either teach a class, or to find another job if their class is cancelled, the department can find a half hour to meet with us in 10 days!

On Tuesday May 7 at 4 PM-6PM we will be having a special "office hours" on HW 1st floor lobby to discuss the response from the department and next steps. We will also be having a short rally and speak out for other adjuncts, students, and other workers to make their problems and demands public and to give us an opportunity to work together.

We are publicizing this letter as widely as possible so management knows they can no longer hide behind our isolation and precarity. We're too exploited to be scared, and too desperate to be intimidated. All we can do is organize.

Please send the letter below to any other adjunct, faculty, student, worker, and friend you have, and bring them out May 7!

From: The Basement Adjunct Office, M151, Hunter College

May 1, 2013 
To: Dr. Vanya Quinones-Jenab, Department Chair, Hunter College Psychology 
Cc: Jennifer J. Raab, President, Hunter College 
As a group of dedicated faculty in your Department, we are writing you this letter from the basement adjunct office M151 -- the space where the Psychology Department has placed the vast majority of its teaching force -- to bring a number of concerns and demands to the attention of the department. 
We have addressed our concerns to the department before, regarding the rapidly increasing class sizes that make the conditions of teaching in the Department difficult and alienating. It also further isolates us from connecting with our colleagues and students. While we teach the majority of students in Psychology, our necessary existence is invisible.

Most recently, we have become very wary of the dire situation of academic freedom for adjuncts in the face of the teaching evaluation process carried out by full-time faculty. 
  • We are deeply concerned about a number of issues in the Psychology Department: Based on several recent accounts, the adjunct teaching evaluation process reveals a pattern of paradigm policing. It forces adjuncts to conform to certain more prevalent positivist paradigms within the field, which especially impedes the academic freedom of adjuncts who lack job security. 
  • The growing class sizes with up to 1000 students (i.e. “Jumbo Class”) leading to our roles as teachers to be that of disciplining students rather than providing meaningful teaching-learning conditions that our students deserve. 
  • As the majority of teaching faculty in the department, our existence is paradoxically invisible. The basement office is not only impractical for meeting with thousands of students we teach, but is also degrading, unsafe, and trivializes our contributions to the department. 
  • The complete lack of inclusion of adjunct faculty in the important decision-making processes in the department.  
In relation to our concerns, we have a list of demands to begin to address the issues that we see most pressing. We are aware, however, that our conditions in the Department are connected to our overall conditions as contingent faculty, which cut across all CUNY campuses.

WE DEMAND:
  • A DEPARTMENT MEETING: at the latest by May 16, 2013. 
  • FAIR TEACHING EVALUATION PROCESS: The evaluation should be based on a PEER review of a mix of adjuncts, students, and full-time faculty. 
  • OFFICE SPACE: Guaranteed SPACE for each adjunct, including functional, accessible office rooms with access to appropriate printing and copying facilities in the department. By next semester, at least one desk for each adjunct. As an intermediate demand, at least one desk for every three adjuncts. 
  • JOB SECURITY: 3 year-contracts for ALL adjuncts IMMEDIATELY. 
  • PARTICIPATION IN DECISION MAKING: The inclusion of adjunct faculty in important decision making processes in the department, including allowing adjuncts to be part of curriculum development. 
We request that you respond to this letter by Monday, May 6th, 11pm to address our concerns, demands, and call for a meeting. 
Psychology adjuncts in solidarity with many other adjuncts who can’t speak out because of fear for retaliation

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We Must Take What Is Ours: Hunter Teaches* Responds to PSC Contract Demands

The PSC, which is the union that holds a collective bargaining agreement between CUNY and some CUNY workers (including full-time and adjunct faculty, as well as Higher Education Officers), is re-opening negotiations on our contract after a nearly 3-year period where we have been working on no new contract (our last contract expired in 2010), in hopes that democratic hopefuls for Mayor will mean a better contract.  They are doing this along with a large number of other city unions, who after years of defeats from harsh labor legislation and severe restrictions on activity (such as striking) hang their hopes not on the movement of the rank-and-file workers, but on the politics of city government.

Although many of us feel that we are“lucky” to have a union at all, there is in fact little that can be won for adjuncts in the course of contract negotiations.  The contract was designed at a time when adjuncts made up a relatively small percentage of the union (as compared to 66% today) and our poor working conditions are reinforced by many parts of the agreement.

One of the primary concerns of adjuncts is job security.  Recently, the union released one demand for adjuncts for the upcoming negotiations.  While we are glad that there is recognition of our need for job security, we are dismayed by the demand itself and also by the prospect of negotiations occurring without the knowledge or input of the rank-and-file, and most likely over the summer when fewer of us are teaching.  Last week, group Cuny Contingents Unite held a meeting with adjunct union representatives and rank and file adjuncts and agreed that a demand for an immediate three-year contract for all adjuncts should be included in bargaining.  We are in full support of this demand, but we also feel that we cannot rely on the union to win it for us.  We want to unite with adjuncts to demand immediate long-term employment along with other demands around space, workload, pay, and health insurance (see below) regardless of whether the union takes up our call or not.  We know that our demands are likely to get whittled away in the course of bargaining, and we are prepared to fight for them as is, as adjuncts organized directly against management. This includes department chairs who are our bosses who are in the same union as us.  We have to be prepared to fight their practices head on, which cannot be bargained through our contract.

Below is what we think are problems with the demand that the PSC is making, and what we know is necessary to win actual job security for adjuncts.

Current Contract Demands - Article 12
“Adjunct Workforce Stability: A system of job stability for teaching adjuncts shall be introduced, such that adjuncts earn a Certificate of Continuous Employment in the adjunct title after teaching an average of 12 contact teaching hours a year in the same department in any 5 of the previous 7 years, and successfully undergoing a review by the department. An adjunct who has achieved a CCE shall be entitled to teach a minimum of 6 contact teaching hours per semester and would not be subject to non-reappointment, except for just cause. Teaching adjuncts who have completed an average of 12 contact teaching hours per year in any 10 of the past 12 years by the day following the expiration date of the 2007-2010 Agreement shall receive the CCE upon the effective date of this provision. (Article 12)”

Why this provision is woefully inadequate:
In order earn the “privilege” of a CCE, one has to teach an average of 12 credits a year (2 classes a semester) for 5 of 7 years and then go through a review process.  This is unacceptable for most of us, who will most likely not get 2 classes a semester for 5 consecutive years due to the work of the university to keep us off health insurance, and the political dimensions of the university and the power of the chairs might keep us from getting a positive review anyway.There are a number of problems with this aspect of the proposal:

  1. 2 classes/semester @$3,000/class= $12,000/year!
  2. Essentially, CUNY and the PSC expect an adjunct to live in a precarious situation for 5-7 years, making below poverty wages (we can remember, we may work other part time jobs, but being able to work for 5-7 years part time means being able to keep a flexible schedule since we are never guaranteed the times/days our classes will be taught; we are constantly going in and out of other part time work).  Furthermore, adjuncts can be fired (or NOT reappointed) anytime during this 5-7 years for whatever reason or no reason...so how many of us are likely to reach this mark?  Not to mention that this is to start in 2010, so long-time adjuncts are out of luck.
  3. And if we do reach this mark, what “privilege” are we actually earning? The privilege to teach 6 contact hours/semester (2 classes/semester) and not be fired unless for just cause. Instead of being guaranteed any kind of qualitative improvement of or wages, benefits, or working conditions, this demands proposes we continue working in the exact same exploitative conditions-- this contract demand is fighting to “win us” the “right” to for CUNY to only pay us $12,000/year! The only advantage is that Hunter can no longer fire us at will!  We wonder, why would Hunter want to fire us, if they have a highly educated, experience individual who wants to thank them for paying us $12,000/year.
  4. As recent examples have shown (see forthcoming letter on http://adjunctsforliberation.blogspot.com), the “review process” which was instituted in order to provide professional development and a to provide a track record for adjuncts who might hope to apply for other jobs, is easily turned into a tool of workplace discipline when combined with our precarity.  Further institutionalizing the review as a potential means to deny job security flies in the face of its initial intention and makes adjuncts even more vulnerable.

Essentially, this provision fights for “job security” at poverty wages, and we have to ask; is it job security for
adjuncts or security that the university knows they will have a highly exploitable labor pool for years and years on end?

What We Demand

Given these conditions, we cannot support this demand as it stands now.   We have to be ready to use any tools necessary, and not limit ourselves to bargaining through the contract, a situation which is already stacked against us.  We need to organize to confront management directly and as a collective when they retaliate against us, go on grade strike with the support of our students, walk and sick out, create picket lines, and in any other way we see fit assert our power as the fuel that teaches the vast majority of classes and keeps the University running.  We hope the union will support us in these efforts, but we will persist regardless.
Our demands include:
  1. Immediate health insurance for ALL adjuncts that is the SAME as full-time faculty health insurance
  2. 3 year-contracts for ALL adjuncts IMMEDIATELY, and its continuation after three years not contingent on DEPARTMENT review but on PEER review of a mix of adjuncts, students, and full-time faculty

  1. a significant increase in wages not based on an increased number of calculated hours, but instead one determined by the amount that adjuncts need to be able to teach our courses and not be forced seek other employment just to pay rent. 
  2. Guaranteed SPACE for each adjunct, including at least one OFFICE for each department and one DESK for each adjunct

It may seem daunting, but adjuncts at Hunter are already organizing around these demands.  We have an action coming in the next week or so that we need support for, so contact us at hunter.teaches@gmail.com if you want to take part.  We also have a story coming out in the Hunter Envoy, and will host an end of year meeting to discuss how to engage with the contract negotiations, and what we need to be prepared for over the summer and next year.

In struggle,
Hunter Teaches
adjunctsforliberation.blogspot.com
*Hunter Teaches is an independent organization of adjuncts at Hunter College and beyond.  We are not union representatives or employees and we act autonomously from the PSC and any other PSC caucus or campus organization.