U.S. Congressional report details abuse of contingent faculty across the nation

The Congressional Committee on Education & the Workforce, chaired by U.S. Rep. George Miller, just released a report on the results of an online eForum about contingent academic faculty and the findings are quite grim.

The Just-in-Time Professor: A Staff Report Summarizing eForum Responses on the Working Conditions of Contingent Faculty in Higher Education” ticks down a list of issues facing adjunct/Lecturer faculty including poverty-level pay at “piece rates,” rare access to benefits like medical care, job instability, and dim prospects for improvements in working conditions.

The report says, “A large number of respondents reported making between $15,000 and $20,000 per year, at or mostly below the federal poverty line for a family of three ($19,530) or well below the poverty line for a family of four ($23,550). For many, a career in higher education has meant relying on help from family members and the government to make ends meet.”

Personal stories appear throughout, such as: “No insurance, no unemployment insurance, [no] assurance that I will have a job next semester…It’s December 7th. I still don’t know if they will have classes for me at the beginning of January.”

The report references the Center for the Future of Higher Ed’s working paper “Who is Professor Staff?” about adjunct working conditions written by Steve Street, Maria Maisto, Esther Merves and Gary Rhoades, the center’s director.

Maisto, who in addition to playing a leading role in CFHE is executive director of the national adjunct organization New Faculty Majority, also testified before the House committee in advance of the report.

While conditions for adjuncts are found to be poor across the board, the report did find that contingent faculty at unionized campuses fare better. 

See a summary news report in Inside Higher Education, “Congress Takes Note.”