Pay Parity–Start Talking About Your Salaries

Hello Good Adjuncts,

Sorry I’ve been gone for over three months from the site.  Like the rest of you, I’ve been a bit busy, but I’ve tried to address the adjunct issue these past few months more directly through union and political involvement. 

This brings me to the thing that I think we, as adjuncts, can do to begin being effecting change immediately.

Start publically and factually talking about our salaries

This past Spring, a retired but returned former full-time colleague of mine began talking salaries, and told me, that in spite of his longstanding sympathy for adjuncts, he hadn’t really gotten the message of how our salaries are, to be polite, “deficient”, until he started getting paid in adjunct wages.

You see, my colleague, who retired from San Diego Mesa College as head of the English Department in 2003, was making $86,000/year in his final year.  He then went on for a number of years being paid “pro rata”, which meant he would teach two classes paid on a graduated scale proportionate to what he had made as a full-timer.  However, “pro rata” status doesn’t continue forever, and so eventually he saw his pay reduced to the standard adjunct rate for a person of his experience and educational attainment.  He saw his wages cut to almost a third of what he was making.

As an adjunct at San Diego Mesa College, I now make $67.10 an hour.  Because I have taught three classes a semester for over ten years, I am at the top of the pay scale for people with a MA and 60 Postgraduate units.  This coming academic year, I will teach six three-unit (3hr/wk) classes which run 16 weeks.  If one multiplies $67.10 X 6 X 3 X 16, this will come to $19,324.80.  If I were to teach a full-time load of ten three-unit classes, my pay for the year would be $32208.00. 

For a person of my experience and educational attainment, were I actually working as a full-time contracted employee, I would make, (being on Step M of Schedule A),  $6,290.00 a month on a ten-month contract for an annual total of  $62,900.00, excluding Health Insurance, which thanks to my union, I also receive.

In other words, I make approximately 51.3 % of what my comparable full-time colleague makes.  In fact, if I had  really started as a full-timer, I would have actually accumulated an additional 144 units putting me at Step X, which means I would receive $8,477.00/month for an annual salary of $84,770.00.  In fact, I really am getting paid 37.9 % of what my comparable full-time colleague makes.

As an adjunct at Southwestern Community College, I am paid better on an hourly basis, but receive no benefits with lesser job security.    At Southwestern I am paid $75.70/hr.   I teach two four-unit classes  per semester for 8 hours a week for two 18.5 week semesters.  My annual salary from Southwestern next year will be $75.70 X 8 X 2 X 18.5, which comes to $22,407.00.  If I worked I to work a full-time load at this rate, I would make 42,013.50 annually.  The actual salary for a full-time contracted employee with comparable experience and educational attainment (Step 12 Class IV) would be $82, 405/yr., not including HW and welfare benefits.  Adjuncts, if they receive any HW benefits from any other place of work, receive no benefits, and in fact, will only receive percentage pay on any health plan (i.e. 20% pay for a 20% load).  Excluding benefits and just going by salary, Southwestern College pays me 51.2% of the salary a comparable full-time colleague makes.

Now granted, I do not have outside committee work like my full-time colleagues, but I have sat on academic committees, participated on an academic senate as an adjunct rep for five years, and participate in department meetings (unlike some of my full-time colleagues).  I easily exceed 40 hours of work a semester on professional development, none of which I am compensated for.  I have consistently positive evaluations at both institutions.

I ask therefore, how is my work worth 37.9%, 51.2%, or even 51.3% of a full-time contract employee’s, especially when I face the loss of work from even one bad evaluation cycle, or a downturn in funding?

If the above facts don’t point out the glaring inequities of the system, I don’t know what does or will.

So I say, good adjuncts, speak of your salaries, what you do make, what your colleagues both full-time and adjunct make, and of the sharp disparities.  Do it in emails, to your colleagues, to governing boards, to the editorial sections of newspapers and blogs.

Maybe then the larger academic community, and perhaps more importantly, the public will finally “get it.”

Geoff Johnson

A Good Adjunct in Search of Pay Parity



I Just Used to Work Here

This article raises an interesting question: What should be adjunct obligations after the semester ends. We are professionals who do most of our work for no pay. We carry higher education out of this sense of professional obligation. Where do we draw the line? Isn’t this the core of how we are exploited?

First AFT #Adjunct/Contingent Faculty Caucus #aft14!

Mobilization is happening!

National Mobilization For Equity

AFT14,BillLipkin.CFC Interim Chair Bill Lipkin

This evening saw the first ever gathering of AFT’s Contingent Caucus.

It was organized by Bill Lipkin and attended by about 40 AFT contingent members and allies from around the country. Margaret Hanzimanolis acted as secretary.

This historic event will help to give contingent faculty a greater voice within the union of 1.6 million members, of whom perhaps 100,000 are contingent academics in higher education. Thanks to Bill, Richard Gomes and Margaret Hanzimanolis for pulling this off—it’s been a long time coming!

Yesterday and today saw the unanimous approval of a number of excellent resolutions that pertain directly to contingents. More to follow.

LR: Margaret Hanzimanoulis, Bill Lipkin, Richard Gomez L-R: Margaret Hanzimanolis (CA), Bill Lipkin (NJ), Richard Gomes (NJ)

from Peter D.G. Brown, New Paltz, originally posted to the adj-l listserv

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“Ph.D.”-The Scarlet Letters in the Job Marketplace

It sucks to be smart in a dumbed-down world.


As I have finally accepted the futility of seeking a tenure track position I have decided to quit adjunction and focus my efforts on finding other types of employment. However, these efforts have also proven to be futile. Out of the fifty applications for the non-academic positions that I sent out the past few months, I’ve only been called for three interviews. None of these interviews have resulted in a job offer.

I am overqualified for most of the jobs that I’ve applied for, so one would think that employers would jump at the chance of having me on their team. But sadly, that is not the case. Employers don’t want to hire someone who is overqualified because they would have to pay them more. They also don’t trust that overqualified individuals would work at their institutions for the long haulI–and they’re right. Additionally, employers don’t want to hire employees who are more qualified and skilled than they…

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Why Are Faculty Complicit in Creating a Disposable Workforce?

Jennifer Ruth, from Portland State University, raises the most important question facing higher education faculty.

This is the question that compelled me to speak out about reversing adjunctification. Adjunctification is the first step in the corporatization and privatization of higher education. Jennifer Ruth, in this piece, addresses our complicity in this woeful trend. We are complicit because it is easy. Tenured faculty do not wish to risk their comfortable position. Adjunct faculty lie to themselves. We are all complicit together. And it is together that we will need to reverse the trend. But we will not be able to do it within the same paradigm. That ship has already sunk. Or is sinking. Adjuncts are swimming and tenured faculty are watching (or looking the other way) in their lifeboats. If we want to reverse adjunctification and thereby reverse corporatization, we need to prioritize the empowerment of adjuncts. The best way to do this is for tenured faculty to pull adjuncts into the lifeboats. The old-fashioned, labor intensive search for the “best candidate,” is a lie. The “best candidates” are already teaching at the institution. Why shouldn’t adjuncts be transitioned to full-time, tenured positions? At community colleges, it is obvious that this should be the way things work. Otherwise, we must conclude that adjuncts are not as good as tenure-track faculty, and students, and therefore society, is being cheated. Even at universities where research agendas play a role in the selection of tenured faculty, the institutions owe contingent faculty  full-time status.

I will go further than Ruth, and assert that we need a radical paradigm shift which should be the priority of our unions and professional associations. For this to happen, tenured faculty need to be willing to rock the boats at the risk of capsizing all the boats.

How can we reform the adjunct system?

This is an interesting conversation:

Bryan Alexander

How can American academia’s adjunct situation be improved?  What’s the best way to address this humanitarian crisis?  Can we fix this labor disaster?

This question surfaced during a Twitter discussion today.  Several of us were criticizing the increased casualization of academic labor, and sawfew ways forward.   Then VCVaile wondered,

hard to change attitude but is it impossible? what would it take?

asking the question

This is a great question. Indeed, it should be one of the leading questions for academia to answer today.

How, then, can we improve the situation of adjuncts?

Let’s brainstorm.  And let’s seed the storm with some ideas:

1. State governments could be the hero here.  One common suggestion (one I’ve made) is that we need to reverse the decline in state support for public higher education.  Simply put, if states stopped cutting their subsidies but, instead, increased their support for colleges and universities, we could expand…

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NEA – The Politics of Contingent Academic Labor

Here is a great analysis and overview of the privatization of higher education by Claire Golsdstene. It reaffirms my sense that lobbying for more full-time positions will never address the historical shift to majority contingent faculty. We, our unions and advocacy in general, need a new vision, one that seeks to  transform faculty conditions on a sweeping scale. We need to enfranchise adjunct faculty with economic parity, which is the first step to giving adjuncts the security they need fight the political fight.

NEA – The Politics of Contingent Academic Labor.