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CAUT Bulletin Archives

February 2015

Editorial: Compensating adjuncts fairly

What would American universities and colleges look like without adjuncts, those fully-qualified academic staff members hired to teach on a course-by-course or temporary basis? The simple answer would be “empty” since the majority of university and college courses in the US are taught by adjuncts.

Campuses may look empty Feb. 25 as adjuncts across the US are being encouraged to stage a walkout to coincide with National Adjunct Action Week from Feb. 23–27. Orga­nizers are using blogs, Facebook and #NAWD (the protest’s Twitter hashtag) to call on adjuncts to be visible and plan solidarity actions of various forms to push contingent faculty interests. By all accounts, turnout is expected to be high, as events around the movement gain momentum. Inside Higher Education reported Jan. 27 that “tenure-line faculty members also have begun to pledge support, and Canadian adjuncts recently signed on as well.”

In Canada, about one third of all academic staff in post-secondary institutions are now hired on a per course or limited-term basis with often inadequate compensation for only the teaching component of academic life. The casualization of academic staff mirrors broader trends in the Canadian economy as employers replace permanent, full-time positions with temporary, part-time jobs with less pay and few, if any, benefits.

Thousands of professors are denied the opportunity each year to participate in, and be paid for, all aspects of academic work — scholarship, teaching and service to the community — and this has serious implications not only for contract academic staff, but for students, their regular academic staff colleagues, and the integrity of post-secondary institutions.

CAUT advocates for the fair treatment of all academic staff regardless of employment status, including compensation for research and service as part of any teaching appointment on a pro-rata basis — that is, as a percentage of a regular professor’s appointment. Tenure and aca­demic freedom, the ability to do research, teaching and service, the opportunity to participate fully in institutional governance, and fair compensation and good working conditions, are all quintessential so that academic staff can offer the best post-secondary education possible.

CAUT is lending support to its American counterparts during walkout day and National Adjunct Action Week. In the meantime, why don’t you take some time to have a coffee with an adjunct in your department and find out more about their working conditions at your institution?

Article supplied by CAUT’s Contract Academic Staff Committee.