To Have a Real Adjunct Walkout: Not Impossible, but Work Needs to be Done

Good Adjuncts

By reading my last post, some readers may assume that I don’t believe a real adjunct walkout could or should happen.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

My point regarding Adjunct Walkout Day in my last entry was that it is both simplistic and defeatist to assume one can simply pull off a walkout without considering all that would be involved.

Unlike the Women’s marches which “benefited” from the fact that just a day earlier, the most divisive, bigoted and bombastic politician in recent memory was assuming the highest office in the land despite losing the popular vote by 2.9 million votes,  adjunct actions are limited by the fact that adjunctification is largely treated as the dirty little secret of academia, with the workforce highly marginalized, and under the constant threat of loss of employment for even minor infractions.  Further, there are so many forms of adjuntification/contingency that it can at time be that adjunct/contingent groups fighting for change can find themselves at cross purposes.

Another point to make is that the Women’s march is literally the start of a broad-based movement, which will in time face challenges from division, to marginalization, to a loss of enthusiasm, etc.

That said, the Women’s March should serve as an inspiration for adjunct to think in terms of mass action.

To achieve a mass walkout of adjuncts, even on a local scale, there must be a both a common sense of alienation coupled with an equally strong sense of moral outrage.  I think to an extent, this is there, but there isn’t this common sense of what to do.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, adjuncts are fearful of reprisals from loss of employment to punitive scheduling, to even a simple reprimand.  As so many adjuncts are effectively just “hanging on” in terms of income because these reprisals could lead to the loss of their homes, impacting not just themselves, but their families.

Further, because unions can’t legally call for or advocate strikes unless they have exhausted negotiations with a particular management group and not only declared impasse, but held a strike vote in which the majority of the membership authorized a strike, the union cannot protect workers who participate in a walkout, nor can it officially call for one.

But this doesn’t mean a walkout couldn’t happen.

Here’s when any adjunct who might be thinking of a walkout needs to read their contact carefully.

Most adjuncts have, as a part of their language, a sick leave policy granting them time away from work.  In many cases, the taking of sick leave, if for a very short period of time, does not require a doctor’s note.  This effectively means that you could leave or miss work without reprisal (with the assumption that you’re sick).

Imagine, if you will, a day in which even 50% of an adjunct teaching force suddenly got ill.

On January 11th, 2016, frustrated with the dilapidated conditions of the facilities they were teaching in school teachers in the Detroit Public System staged a sickout which garnered national attention.  This action was followed up by a sick-out in early May which ultimately resulted in pay guarantees for its teachers.

Perhaps what the adjunct/contingent nation needs to do is consider this as an option.

But saying this and doing it are two different things.  Some things to consider:

1)  There has to be buy-in: There is, at any school, or district, a dedicated core of individuals who are willing to take the risk, and after them perhaps double the number who will talk a good game, or show interest, but then not act, and often, both groups combined, at best, represent only 10% of the adjunct faculty.  To get larger participation, there needs to be either a greater sense of outrage or injustice, and perhaps more importantly, a sense that by doing the action it will actually accomplish something.

2) There needs to be a specific goal: What is the objective of a walkout going to be?  It has to be more than “see how powerful adjuncts are,” or an abstract call for “adjunct justice”.  There needs to be a clear sense of objectives that can be realized, like pressure on considering specific legislation, or certain policies.  If it’s a national sickout, then it should focus a specific national issue, like unemployment benefits, healthcare, the WEP provision, etc.  If it’s a state level sickout, it needs to be connected to a state level issue, like funding for office hours, or equity pay, but this said…

3) There need to be allies among students, politicians, and the general public:  Given the current lack of awareness among students of who or what adjunct/contingent faculty really are, and how adjunct/contingent working conditions hinder student success, there’s a considerable amount of awareness raising that needs to go on.  Personally, I’ve seen awareness and consciousness rise among students, but not enough so that there is widespread concern among student groups.  There has to come a day when you can ask students in a given class, “Do you know what an adjunct is?” and have more than 50% of the class actually know and have a strong opinion about it.  Again, this gets back to the fact that adjunct/contingent faculty by and large avoid explaining who they are to their students.  As people in the business of attacking ignorance, it’s so ironic how many adjuncts contribute to it when it comes to the fact of being adjunct.

Politicians are not much different, and in fact, a bit worse.  Since the Reagan administration, teachers have been one of America’s favorite whipping horses as to the ills of American society, and the college professor is still by and large perceived as some sort of upper-middle class elite who drives a nice sensible car and looks down on less-educated Americans.  Further, we’re “impractical,” “we don’t know the “real world.” On the other hand, when it is acknowledged that many of us are financially struggling and live with employment insecurity, we are told by these same politicians, that it’s simply the market economy (even though many of us have full and overflowing classes), or that if we don’t like it, we should just quit, as if the 50+ year-old adjunct with an advanced degree is some sort of versatile property that can pick up a job a will.  Further, this is not a Republican or Democrat thing.  In fact, some Democrats have been even worse in their embrace of the Corporatization of Public Education. They often call for “school choice,” “charter school,” or speak of free Public Higher Ed (itself a worthy goal) but not a lick about improving the working conditions of the people who deliver that education.  There are politicians who do get it, like California State Assemblyman Jose Medina, but we need to bring these people up, and some of us need to run for office ourselves.

Adjunct and Contingents, as for the general public, how many of you talk about the work and salary conditions you experience among friends and neighbors?  By the way, when was the last time you saw an adjunct represented on TV or in a movie, and moreover, was there any mention of their lack of income, job security, or how students were affected by this?  News stories on NPR, MSNBC, or the Nightly News aren’t going to be enough.  We have to create a culture and have a presence in media where by our situation is known.

4) We need full-time allies who will stand with us: An adjunct walkout can work if full-time support is there, but we need to have support that is significant.  Maybe they need to walk out with us, or stand up to administrators who will seek to sanction by simply leaving us off the schedule the following semester. It would also be nice if they weren’t afraid of us “taking over,” which is something I hear more often than I would like.  I will say this, unless a concerted effort is made to de-incentivize the hiring of adjunct/contingent faculty, the tenure system will collapse, and for any adjunct foolish enough to think this would be a good thing, think again: it would effectively mean an end to academic freedom.  Then you can face the risk of getting fired without cause, or for showing your student a film about income inequality or racism that they’re not down with.  Adjuncts need to fight and stand for full-time positions, but at the same time full-timers need to realize that pay and benefit equity for adjuncts is the price for protecting tenure.

5) Any kind of sickout has to be a mass movement of leaders in smaller groups or cells, not something directed by a singular group of activists: As I already stated, union leaders by and large have their hands tied in calling for or directing such actions.  Even smaller activist organizations with visible leadership need to be aware that without mass support and protection, they face retaliation, which is fine if they’re willing to carry the costs of losing their jobs or careers, and subsequently labeled a martyr or symbol for the cause. Some people can do this, and we can applaud them for their sacrifice.  For others, mass action can provide both the support and anonymity to act.  The idea of a sickout can be spread through word of mouth, and when consensus is realized then people can act.

6) We need the support of those adjuncts who can’t, for whatever reason, join the sickout, and we need to support them: Any kind of strong labor action is a scary thing.  For many adjunct/contingents living from paycheck-to-paycheck, and even then not making it, such an action is frightening.  Some adjuncts feel bound to their students (though a sickout can very much be a teachable moment).  These are our brothers and sisters, and they can stand with us, speaking out as to why have chosen to act.  They can share in the communication of  our grievances and our demands for redress.  If we know that they understand our actions and stand with us otherwise, then we must embrace them.

And there you have it. This is what it’s going to take to have the walkout/sickout/whatever .  I personally don’t see it happening in the immediate future, but then again, I didn’t think I would see millions of people in the street the day after Trump’s inauguration.

I for one would love to be pleasantly surprised, but I’m just one person, and by writing this, I am excusing myself from leading this, but not from potentially participating.

For any adjunct/contingent who’s read this, I have now put the onus of leading or participating in such action upon you. It’s time for you to talk, and act, and plan.

Geoff Johnson

A “Good” Adjunct

Trump: Nationwide Adjunctification without Union Representation

Since Trump won in November, I knew we (adjunct/contingents) were screwed, but to get at the full degree of just where things would go, it took me to see the latest proposal being pushed out there regarding Trump and federal employees to get the full searing sense of what the outcome might look like.

Understand, that it was a given that Trump, whose own record with unions is deplorable at best, would not only seek to put an end to public employee union agency fees ala the Friedrichs case that was halted with the death of Antonin Scalia last year, but, in a nod to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, will seek out National “Right-to-Work” Legislation.

It is also clear, in his railing against “regulations,” that on-the-job worker protections will be seriously rolled back.

But what Trump is truly after is the very notion of worker’s rights, or anything that has to do remotely with the notion of collective bargaining.

Just introduced, the “Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency” Act (H.R. 6278), and sponsored by Todd Rokita (Republican, Indiana 4th District), seeks to do the following, and here I quote for the AFL-CIO Action Network:

  1. Completely change the federal pay system, and prohibits all pay raises — including annual pay raises — unless you get a 4 or 5 out of 5 performance rating.
  1. Make all new federal workers “at will,” meaning they can be fired without explanation.
  1. Allow immediate suspension for current workers for performance or conduct and only ten days for appeal.
  1. Eliminate official time, so that union representatives can no longer work to protect your pay, your benefits or your job during the work day.

Read the bill for yourself

In case you don’t get it, the passage of such a bill would have trickle down effects.  If you can make all federal workers “at will” employees, why not all public employees, and in particular teachers?

Consider that the first provision effectively ends the concept of a COLA, or cost-of-living allowance, so as things get more expensive, your salary may not rise, unless you toady well, or are like that shiny new penny to your evaluator or administrator.

With the second provision, say goodbye to not only tenure, but ultimately the push for priority re-hire rights for Adjunct-Contingent faculty. And understand, this is not just a job issue.  Tenure was created to serve as a protection which is at the heart of Higher Education:  Academic Freedom.

Imagine, while you’re on vacation over the Summer being told you’re terminated, only to find out you missed the appeal window, because you were unaware.  Further, consider that if, even at a single institution, there were just 10-20 cases in a given term, your grievance team would likely be overwhelmed, especially considering they couldn’t do any union work during the day.

And by the way adjuncts, over the past few years dealing with grievance, I’ve seen a number of these cases, as many administrators like to use the “Summer exit plan” to get rid of what they deem as “pesky adjuncts.”  They have and will be coming after you.

Number four on the list is effectively a union killer.  If you read the bill, it calls for the prohibition of any union activity using, and I quote “any Government property (including office space or computers.”  This means, if you have a complaint, you can’t even email me (a union rep) from the office, or use the school email to do so.  We also couldn’t meet with you on campus.

You say this is unconstitutional, and a violation of our first amendment rights.  Well, now that’s determined by the Supreme Court, whose immediately future justices will be chosen by none other than our Union-hating President Trump.

If there has never been a time for adjuncts, teachers, public employees, and workers in general to not stand up and resist and resist loudly, this is it.

Here’s a first step to take, but it’s not enough.

Adjuncts need to publicly rally on all Campuses to speak our cause and the cause of workers in general. For those of you on other campuses, mass Spring action  is not only called for, it’s essential.

Adjunct Action Day At Southwestern College and in the San Diego Community College District is Wednesday, February 22nd.  You can bet this will be part of the discussion.

Geoff Johnson

A Good Adjunct

My Adjunct Action Day Speech at Mesa

Dear Students, Full-time Faculty, Classified, Administrators, and of Course Adjuncts:

Approximately one year ago, when for the first time on a widespread scale such rallies as these took place, I was to a degree excited by the chance to speak out along with my colleague and fellow adjunct John Hoskins to draw attention to the adjunct condition.

Sadly, it’s a year later, and there are still so many students out there who don’t know the meaning of the term, or how it has become synonymous with teacher exploitation, marginalization, and the rationing of instruction.

The adjunct, or so called “part-time” instructor is a teacher, who like his/her full-time counterparts, must possess either a Master’s or Doctorate degree, so that he/she can teach to more or less the same student population in subjects, which he or she, has the same level of expertise. In truth, the student taught by either will rarely know which one is the full-timer and which one is the adjunct unless the teacher in question tells him or her.

However, unlike, and this is the word, unlike the full-time instructor, the adjunct is limited to teaching no more than 67% of a full-time load in one district, for fear of having to give them, like a full-timer, a long term employment contract, full health benefits which can extend to his/her family, occasional sabbaticals, and some cases, a structured early retirement plan

The adjunct is given no long term contract, and in many districts, no rehire rights (meaning that that you can be fired for any reason, like for example, the Dean having a family friend in mind for your job). It means living a life and a career in four to six month spurts for years and even decades. While a smattering of schools will give health benefits to adjuncts who maintain 50% or greater loads for more than a year, most schools offer adjuncts no health benefits at all. There are no sabbaticals for adjuncts, and for adjuncts, retirement comes when an older adjunct is simply not rehired, and he/she has been given the message that it’s time to go away.

More significantly, the adjunct is paid only for the time he/she spends in the classroom, with extremely limited if any compensation given for office hours and professional development, and no compensation for hours spent grading or doing research. To be fair, officially full timers are not paid for these things, but they are paid to maintain a minimum 30 hours on a campus, and when salaries are awarded, the adjunct will be paid at a rate  that is effectively ½ to 1/3 of what his/her full-time colleague makes.

Were this not enough to consider, know that in many cases these teachers also do not enjoy designated office space to work with their students.

There are hidden costs to being an adjunct too. Because of the low pay and limited work at any one institution, the adjunct may commute to over four campuses in a week, driving over 300 miles. The gas, the wear and tear on his/her car, the hours of lost time are all costs borne by the adjuncts. Further, when the adjunct cannot receive the health benefits the full-time employee receives, he/she must bear those additional costs out-of-pocket.

Often salary increases, when spread across-the-board for faculty, further the disparity, as the 2% salary increase for the $70,000/year full-timer will receive a $1400 increase, which the adjunct who teaches 60% at a 50% rate for an annual salary of 21,000/year will receive just $410. Unfortunately, at the store, both the adjunct and the full-time pay the same rate for milk.

Please do not misunderstand, I do not condemn or wish to deny my fellow full-timers of their wages, for they do earn their money. AFT has fought to reduce this disparity, as reflected in our last contract, which brought significantly rose adjunct salaries, and office hours. I condemn a system which from the start has used the “adjunct” as a cheap tool to provide only a half-fulfilled promise of educational equity.

I once believed that the “adjunct” was originally created as the status given to a moonlighting instructor, like a local businessman who once a week came to the community college to impart his vocational knowledge, and that as budgets were tight, a sort of fiscal creep set in, which over 40 years of time created the present climate in which now 70% of all community college instructors are adjuncts living and working at academia’s edges.

The truth is, at least in California, that in 1967, when the California legislature deemed it legal to hire adjunct instructors, it was so that schools could collect federal funds while not having to pay the full wages and benefits accorded full-timers. The system of adjunctification, you see, was not created by accident, or by a simple slouching towards budgetary pressures. It was from the start, as it is today, a system of exploitation by design.

And the costs of this system to adjuncts has been mighty. Forget the lost wages or lack of benefits—think instead of teachers toiling for years in hope of the full-time job that for many will never come, think of the adjunct living in apartment after apartment, and driving one broken down car after another, hoping his/her car will make it to the next teaching assignment. Think even more of the adjunct without health insurance who never gets that chest pain checked out until she learns its stage three cancer, think of the adjunct who loses a classes do to layoffs at one college, and having the ignoble status of being a working teacher, yet homeless and living in a station wagon with her three children ages 6 through 17. Think these are children who have ambitions like you own.

And trust me, I could tell you stories like this several times over.

Now, after telling you all this, I suppose what you know about an adjunct is negative.

What you also need to know is that, for the most part, an adjunct, is a person who loves to teach and so much so that even when making $15 an hour or less for the actual work that he/she does, he/she looks forward to the next teaching assignment, not simply for the promise of salary, but the opportunity to make a difference in people’s live, and in the community. (And as an aside, no worker should be making less than $15 dollars an hour, including adjuncts, especially when we aspire to the idea that our citizens should be taxpayers, and not dependent on government assistance.)   As for the love of the job that adjuncts feel and the empowerment that can come from it, I think of the older student I had in a remedial class who never thought of herself as a writer, who wrote an essay about stopping herself from a third suicide attempt that to this day leaves me almost speechless.

The adjunct is that person who will do extra office hours, or show up on off days for unpaid professional and curriculum development, not out of obligation, or sometimes even a desire to get a full-time job, but because it’s the right thing to do for the students, the college, the community.

And contrary to the notion of the “adjunct” as a temporary worker, many adjuncts have worked at specific schools for decades, some far longer than any full-time instructor, like one of my colleagues at Mesa College, who has been teaching since 1963. And they leave special marks not just on the students they teach, but everyone around them.

I tell you this so that you know that today, while I would naturally like to see both equal pay for equal duties between adjuncts and full-timers, and in fact, a reduction/conversion of adjuncts to full-timers. My request today is a bit simpler to fulfill.

During the economic recession of 2008-13, the loss of funding to community colleges meant the loss of thousands of jobs for adjuncts, while students at Mesa would face waiting lists in excess of 15 students to get that one class they needed for graduation. What brought an end to this situation was the monies that came into the system as a result of Prop 30, a temporary tax measure which will expire in its entirety by the end of 2017. Without these monies, we could see a return to unemployed adjuncts and students without classes.

Today we have before you petition form calling for an extension of the progressive tax component of Prop 30. Please sign these petitions so that we can get it on the ballot in November, and then help us pass it so that we can teach you.

In addition, we are asking you to send letters in support of AB1690, a job security bill which gives an adjunct, after six semesters of successful evaluations, rehire rights based on seniority, and in the event of a weak evaluation, a chance to improve. This bill, if passed, will not make convert any adjuncts into full-timers, but it makes it possible for those good teachers who happen to be still classified as adjuncts on the job, and doing their good work.

Really, all I’m asking you to do today is to make it possible for us, as adjuncts, to continue in making a difference in your lives. Considering what we endure, can you grant us that?

Our Adjunct Action Day Events: A Follow-up

Good Adjuncts:

We had solid moderate turnouts for events both at Mesa and Southwestern.

We had approximately 60+ attendees for the Mesa event, which may seem small, but these were actual attendees, not simply walkbys.  The reception was strong.

Southwestern College had around 80-100 attendees, with more walkbys due to the high traffic location of the event.

In total we have collected 200+ letters in support of A1690, and around 160-180 signatures in support of the Prop 30 extension.

These rallies were not intended as the thing themselves, which was more or less what last year’s rallies were, but more or less kick off events for campaigns through the Spring, up to Campus Equity Week in the Fall, and then the election.

And of course, after that dust settles, and hopefully in our favor, the cycle begins again.

We in San Diego have not lost our enthusiasm in fighting for the adjunct cause because the great walkout of 2015 never materialized.  That was always a media ruse and quite honestly, not realistic given the challenges of adjunct organizing.  Could such an action happen in the future?  Well, if it were to, there would need to be  a greater depth of organizing and commitment than presently exists.

Adjunct Action Day, or National Adjunct Walkout Day, or whatever you want to call it, can become a vehicle that leads to that, provided people continue to do it, and build it as an institution.

Ultimately, however, the goal isn’t to have a walkout–it’s to end educational exploitation and the devaluing of education, as well as to end the excessive use of contingent or part-time hiring practices, not just in education, but throughout a world economy.  I think the phrase “People before profits” best sums it up.

Today, between the loads of papers I have to catch up on, I’m still going to be pushing letters, petitions, and doing all the things we have to do to get where things need to be.

If you truly want to succeed in making the change, you’re going to have to get out there too.  It’s hard, it’s tiring, you’ll piss your family off because you’re not spending time with them.  Sometimes people will tell you the quest is futile, or at other times, you’ll be called a lackey or sell-out because you might, heaven forbid, actually try to work with full-timers or administration.

Always know yourself in these instances, because it’s to easy to walk away, and it’s the last thing you should do.

Keep it real good adjuncts, because you are essential.

Geoff Johnson

A “Good” Adjunct

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gnawed or Odd? What is NAWD/AAD?

Gnawed or Odd?

Adjuncts are gnawed by hungry ghosts. And the situation is quite odd.

What is NAWD? Or AAD?

What is an adjunct?

It is important to remember how this day came to be recognized as a day to advocate for a kind of economic justice we might call adjunct justice. Last year, a nameless adjunct from the Bay area writing on social media posed the question: what if adjuncts walked out? The question went viral on adjunct social media. My version of the question is: What if 75% of the faculty walked out or just disappeared? What if students showed up for class with not teacher? What would students do? It is worth picturing the campus without 75% of the faculty.

So, what is an adjunct?

An adjunct is a scholar, a professor, who devoted years of her life to earning advanced degrees, accruing 40, 50, 100 thousand dollars of student debt, in order to serve higher education, in order to pass on knowledge to students and draw genius out of students.

An adjunct is a professor who looks like a full-time professor, who teaches like a full-time professor, and, from a student’s point-of-view is indistinguishable from a full-time professor, that is, until the student tries to find her professor’s office, or tries to locate her professor next year when she needs a letter of recommendation, or when she finds her professor in a cubicle and is startled to find her idea of her professor diminished.

An adjunct professor is paid half the wages of a full-time professor, has less, or in some places, no benefits, and is defined as “non-essential.” But how can 75% of the faculty be non-essential? Besides students, who is more essential to education than faculty?

Contrary to the popular image, and this is, perhaps, the most important point, most adjuncts do not want to be adjuncts. Most adjuncts want to be full-time so they can devote themselves, heart and soul, to a particular institution, to a particular body of students, to receive just compensation, which is to say, since adjuncts are indistinguishable from full-timers, they should be paid at the same rate, and receive the same benefits.

What to do?

First, we faculty, full-timers and adjuncts, need to recognize the situation for what it is. Campus and department cultures are different everywhere, but some things are the same. As far as the adjunct crisis, which I see as the core of the crisis of higher education, adjuncts are invisible. Oh yes, we are appreciated. But really, what are we to do with this appreciation? Does anyone offering appreciation think that’s what we want? Respect would be more like it, but, I think, we would take Just wages, although we deserve full-time employment and everything that comes with it: an office, benefits, investment of the college as an essential member.

What I’m trying to say is that anyone, faculty, administrator, student, who thinks that the current way of doing things is acceptable, and that adjuncts just need “appreciation” or that adjuncts are content to be part-time, non-essential, at will employees, needs to change his mind.

What I’m trying to say is we need a radical paradigm shift. Such a thing begins in the minds of individuals and spreads out into the actions of individuals. You need to change your attitudes and we need to begin to demand the change that would make adjuncts full-time employees. That’s what most of us really want. That’s real adjunct Justice.

Adjuct Day Action Item: Write a Letter to Governor Brown in Support of AB 1690

Good Adjuncts,

Below is a copy of a letter to Governor Brown in support of AB1690, the adjunct job security bill.  In case you’re unaware of what the bill is proposing, see for yourself.

Over the course of the next few months, this bill will be winding its way through the California legislature.  As it works through its various committees, we will all need to target various legislators to get them to move the bill forward.  we’ll keep you posted.

For now, write to the governor.  It’s better if you write your own letter, but if you can’t, simply copy and paste what we have here and send it along.

Now get to it.

Geoff Johnson

A”Good” Adjunct

 

Governor Jerry Brown

c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173

Sacramento, Ca. 95814

 

Dear Governor Brown:

As you may be aware, 70% of California Community College instructors are classified as “temporary” employees,  more commonly known as “adjuncts,” who are employed from term-to-term on a contingency basis, or simply as need demands.   The term “adjunct” itself implies that such instructors are “ancillary,” or “non-essential,” when in truth these instructors are often responsible for the majority of instruction at given community college. They may be “adjunct” in name, but clearly essential to the community college system.

One of the greatest challenges to such instructors is that most of these instructors, even when classes are available, have no sense that, even if they do exemplary work in the classroom, they can reasonably expect to be rehired. At many colleges, instructor can simply be fired without cause, or as it is politely put, not offered a class assignment for the following term.

On a personal level, for these instructors, many of whom teach at multiple campuses working as self-named “full-time-part-timers,” it means a life lived where they can rarely plan out beyond six months in advance. In one notable case, such an adjunct has worked as a so-called “temporary” worker since 1963. In all, it means dreams deferred for adjuncts and their families. With regard to the California community college system, it has meant high faculty turnover, stressed faculty, and significantly impacted instruction, particularly as the system aspires to the notion of “student equity.” In some colleges, the annual turnover rate for adjuncts is over 25% of the entire adjunct faculty. With such turnover, such colleges lose the long term institutional knowledge and the value of veteran teaching needed to provide educational integrity.

Presently the legislature is considering a bill (AB 1690), which if passed will provide adjuncts who have taught successfully for six semesters with rehire rights. Moreover, it will establish rehire priority on a seniority basis, consistent with how full-time public educators are treated. Furthermore, it will provide those instructors who might stumble in their work a one-semester improvement plan, of great benefit to incoming instructors who might struggle to find their footing initially, but who then become great adjuncts and sometime, even better full-time instructors.

Some argue against such a bill, claiming that it takes away an administrator’s flexibility to schedule classes, but a number of colleges have negotiated similar rehire policies and administrators were still able to schedule classes. Another argument made is that AB1690 would prevent local unions from negotiating better rehire rights, but AB1690 only sets a minimum base, and one far better than what many bargaining units have been able to negotiate. In truth, what a lack of rehire rights creates, beyond the aforementioned problems, is the potential for nepotism and unchecked discrimination, which is not a goal towards which California aspires.

The passage of AB1690 will not end adjunct instructors being hired on an “as needed” basis, but it will provide adjuncts with the notion that under reasonable conditions they can expect to keep teaching when they do a good job, and that these good adjuncts will be available to help students achieve their goals.

Sincerely,

 

Address:

_____________________________

_____________________________

 

 

 

National Adjunct Action Day is 2/24/2016 (For Us)

Good Adjuncts:

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that, at least in California, myself and John Hoskins, along with many others in San Diego, were heavily involved with events regarding National Adjunct Action Day (I also referred to it as the “whatever”) last year.  We put a lot of effort not only in the planning of events (there were six separate rallies in San Diego County alone).

Planning these events was not simply about having a few meetings, pulling out a card table, getting a microphone and making a poster.  It involved 1) looking at specific actionable items, 2) securing facilities and equipment (which will take several weeks of advance planning, 3) arranging for higher profile speakers, 4) Coordinating with students and outside labor/social justice groups, 5) putting together literature, 6) Publicizing the event, 7) Organizing adjuncts and students to work tables, 8) Presenting before college governing boards, and trust me, I could go on.

We started planning for this year’s events on 2/26/2015, which is approximately one day after National Adjunct Action Day, which was 2/25/2015.

In keeping with the idea that this was a “day of action,” I stated on this blog that we were looking for marking National Adjunct Day on Wednesday, Feb. 24th, 2015 which would be the fourth Wednesday in February, effectively commemorating National Adjunct Day. We of course imagined that there would be various activities leading up to the day, but weren’t looking at designating this as a week.

The reason for this is that both the CTA and CFT, the two major unions in California, already have “Campus Equity Week” which runs during the last week in October.  In fairness, while this used to be a biannual event, it is now in fact an annual event, and works well for us in terms of pressuring the state legislature, which controls our funding, and in addition, help us “rally the troops” for Election Day the following week.

After running a week of these events, as we did in San Diego, we can’t really run another full week of events because we end up appearing redundant and burning out some activists.

The idea of a “day of action” is to concentrate our efforts into a series of mass actions which will have the most impact, and perhaps draw media attention.

In the San Diego and Southwestern Community College Districts, the first day of instruction for the Spring Term is February 1st.  To effectively arrange facilities and organize our actions requires at least three weeks, and while some prior planning can be done, it’s extremely hard to organize during the break except at the basic planning stage because so many people “check out” during break.

Recently, a group I assume that is affiliated with Brandeis University  put out on social media that a National Adjunct Week of Action would be taking place from Feb. 15th-20th.   It would have been nice if they had actually talked with people like myself, who actually organize this stuff, because I would have them that we had prior plans, and that the timeline doesn’t work for us.  In addition, to what I stated before, Feb 12th -15th is actually a four-day holiday weekend in our districts, which is another problem in itself.

By the way, I spent a bit of time on the net looking for discussions of a National Adjunct Action Day for 2016 in November right after Campus Equity Week.  I saw nothing, so we assumed that we had to act, and we have.

To the people planning events on the 15th-20th, I’m glad you’re doing something and I sincerely wish you well, but I’m telling my good adjuncts in the San Diego area we’re looking at Wednesday Feb. 24th.

If we truly want to take the National Adjunct “Whatever” a unifying and effective event, then after this year’s activities, let’s have all the main groups coordinate and lest come up with a time window that works for everybody.  I am happy to be reached through the blog, or via my email, which is mixinminao@gmail.com.

However, I will say this, if you feel the need to speak to, and act out on adjunct issues, don’t let it being a specific day stop you—get out there and do something whenever.  The adjunct nation needs you!

Sincerely,

Geoff Johnson

A “Good” Adjunct