Adjunct professing can be a good side gig for a lot of people, but it should be a side gig that you sometimes do, not something that should be relied upon as steady income.
The respondents paint a dismal picture, one that clearly demonstrates how little professional commitment and support part-time faculty members receive from their institutions for anything that costs money and is not related to preparing and delivering discrete course materials. The findings also reflect a lack of processes and resources to include part-time faculty members in the academic community of the college or university. Available resources and support differ modestly by institutional type. Interestingly, respondents indicate that most forms of support are offered more commonly at two-year institutions than at four-year institutions (table 38). This difference may be due to the heavy reliance on part-time faculty in two-year institutions, resulting in more attention to these issues, or it could be due to the higher rate of unionization in this sector, since that variable also correlates with an increased availability of resources and support (table 39).
Respondents who reported the presence of a union on at least one of the campuses where they teach were consistently more likely to receive resources and support, particularly on matters of compensation (table 39). Respondents with a union present on at least one campus where they taught indicated the following levels of support:
◆ 17.9% indicated they are paid for class cancellations, as opposed to only 9.9% of respondents without a union present.
◆ 9.7% indicated being paid for attending departmental meetings, as opposed to only 5.4% of respondents without a union present.
◆ 14.5% indicated being paid for office hours, as opposed to only 3.8% of respondents without a union present.
◆ 33.9% indicated receiving regular salary increases, as opposed to only 12.1% of respondents without a union present.
◆ 19.4% indicated having job security, as opposed to only 3.9% of respondents without a union present.
Support for professional-development activities was also reported more frequently by respondents teaching on at least one campus where a union was present. Yet the overall low percentage of institutions providing such support represents another indicator that institutions are not investing in maintaining and improving the quality of instruction. Respondents teaching on at least one campus where a union was present reported greater access to various kinds of administrative support as well, but the difference between unionized and nonunionized settings was not as great on these items as on other forms of workplace support. The data on professional support gathered in this survey imply an institutional assumption that part-time faculty members will for the most part appear on campus only to deliver a discrete course and not to participate with students or colleagues in any other structurally supported way.
Daniel Kovalik is senior associate general counsel of the United Steelworkers union.
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