General Discussion

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Use this space for discussion of the Action for Allies project, including your suggestions regarding what the MLA can do to help.

10 thoughts on “General Discussion”

  1. Filling out the questionnaire, I found myself confronting the bizarre reality that at my institution, tenure doesn’t exist. The distinction between contingent and “permanent ” faculty is real, but we’re all maintained in a glorified adjunct state. The temporary faculty are treated much better than adjuncts in the traditional sense (benefits, full time, travel money, and so on), the only real difference being that their contracts (although our administration refuses to refer to or treat them as more than guidelines) are not eligible for renewal (unless there’s a sudden need and no time/desire to do a proper search). I’d say the bigger problem is the lack of interest in creating new permanent lines, coupled with the refusal to guarantee job security with a true tenure designation. Am I wrong in this? There’s also the perplexing resistance to selecting current temporary faculty for open job lines unless the faculty member is an officer moving into civilian status. I suppose I’m circling around, trying to determine the purchase of my weird institution in this debate on non-TT faculty, given our idiosyncrasy.

  2. I hope that this important issue of the status of part-time faculty and the results of this action will be the significant agenda item for next year’s Delegate Assembly.

  3. While I was adjuncting way down south of San Diego in California (yes, there are whole other cities down there) for my third straight semester — Spring 2009 it was — I heard that the California fiscal hammer was coming down and I would be termed redundant at the end of the semester. “Last in, first out,” I was told. I suppose that makes sense, if one is tenured or an administrator. I asked around and discovered that just about the entire FT(TT) faculty cohort were teaching overload classes. So, I naively suggested, if all the FT-ers went back to their advertised (and still bloated) salaries, perhaps half of the adjuncts senior to me could stay (economically) and not so many people would need to be let go.

    “Are you out of your probably palsied and deluded mind?” FT-ers yelled. “How dare you try to take money out of my pocket and out of my starving children’s mouths?”

    And that, folks, defines the problem to a “T” as far as I am concerned. Until a way can be found to shave a bit from the FT-ers to give to PT-ers, there will never be anything even vaguely looking like equity and respect. Maybe when we (“the land of the free and the home of the brave” … no one ever said anything about generous) we could get a couple of bucks closer together. But do not ask to raise taxes. Ooooo no.

    So where is all this “equity” going to come from? You folks at MLA want to chip in, or cut my dues in half? Didn’t think so. A “walk out”? Interesting idea, but has anyone seen all those brand new MAs and PhDs lining up, CV in hand, at the annual MLA “Come One, Come All” jobfest. There are tens of thousands of them, they are young, and they will teach on the cheap. So to a University a walk-out really means, “take a week and restaff!”

    I would love to see this work. But really, are we prepared for another Haymarket Affair? Are we ready for beatings and shootings outside Ford’s factories again? Do we have another Eugene V. Debs to lead us through another Pullman Strike (tally: 30 strikers were killed and 57 were wounded; property damage exceeded $80 million; the union (ARU) was dissolved)?

    Tough questions, huh?

  4. The questionnaire needs to be revised. Baked-in assumptions limit the range of responses and lead to some peculiar questions. At the very least, the questionnaire should a) ask responders to indicate their own rank and employment status, b) set up different sets of questions for full and part-time “adjunct” faculty, and c) indicate the extent to which policies for adjunct faculty are set by the department, the institution, collective bargaining agreements, or statewide system policies, etc.

    1. I’d have to agree. The absence of demographic data could significantly hinder what one does with this survey. For example, I *think* NTT individuals at my institution see themselves as faculty colleagues, but as a TT faculty member I’m probably not the person who knows best on that score.

      Similarly, I would like to see queries on what is in a department’s control, what’s not, and what could be but functionally isn’t because departments don’t agitate to control it.

    2. I agree, the questionnaire could have been improved had Part time faculty (by far the majority of contingent faculty) be included in the phrasing and stacking cascade of the questions. We have repeatedly asked that the Executive Committee for Part-time Faculty be at least included in this important work. We will not get the questions we want until the question asking is done by a truly inclusive and diverse group of faculty. More involvement of PTF has been called for in Motions, Resolutions, correspondence with the MLA and in response to taskforce reports, which are composed of similarly stacked groups. I am glad the Committee on Contingent Labor in the Professions has been included in planning, but it has ONE Part time faculty as I understand it. Most of its members are FT NTT (and there is a Dean on the committee as well) in . I have to say the questions are based on dubious assumptions–and the query cascade could have been designed to elicit more useful information by using the branching feature. I am glad that the MLA did the ally sign up, but no so happy with the only formal group devoted to PTF not being included in this very important work.

  5. I wonder why the Executive Committee on the Part-time Faculty Discussion group was not included in the planning for this initiative?

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