Thursday, June 23, 2016

Adjunct Discussion at Juneteenth event: Friday, June 17, 2016

Juneteenth event: Friday, June 17, 2016

From Jack Longmate, Olympic College, 1992 to present.
Yesterday, I gave a 15-minute talk about adjunct faculty at a Juneteenth event (celebrating of the end of slavery) and the dedication of a new park named for a local civil rights leader.  It was the final part of a event that included a League of Women Voters candidates forum for those running for the Superintendent of Public Instruction, who oversees K-12 education in Washington state.  While I spoke after the intermission, when most of the crowd left, l ended up connecting with several members of the audience; one of the SPI candidates remained.  The approximate text is below:
1.         In our state’s 34 community and technical colleges, faculty can be classified as either tenured or as non-tenured, who are called part-time or adjunct.  I’m going to be talking about the latter group of part-time or adjunct faculty. Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” which is why this subject is important for all. 
2.         Our community and technical college system, like our K-12 system, is funded by our state government.  The McCleary decision has indicted our state for failing to fulfill its paramount duty to fund K-12 public education—for which the state continues to pay a fine of $100,000 a day.  As roughly 10,000 K-12 students are enrolled in our colleges every year through the Running Start program, the state may also be negligent of fulfilling its paramount duty to 34 colleges, especially when the treatment of its adjunct faculty is considered. 
 3.         Adjunct instructors have a primary role, not a secondary role, in our colleges:  not only do the 7,000 (7,315) adjuncts significantly outnumber the 3,000 (3,744) full-time, tenured faculty, adjuncts collectively teach about half of all classes, and as such, are undeniably integral to our system. 

 4.         Even though adjunct faculty must meet the same basic qualification requirements as full-time faculty, even though the tuition charged for their courses is the same, and even thought the grades and credits awarded have the same value, adjuncts faculty are certainly not treated equally; their working conditions are emphatically substandard.  Many call their treatment exploitation. 

 5.         Most workers, once they complete a probationary period, are considered permanent.  But adjuncts remain probationary, temporary employees indefinitely.  Whereas a tenured faculty can be laid off only after the state has declared a financial emergency, adjuncts are laid off at the end of every quarter.  Most adjuncts don’t receive a living wage, which is attributable to two factors: a significantly discounted wage scale—here’s a button that protests the 50% wage discrimination on our campuses—and they face a workload cap, limiting them to less than full-time even when there’s full-time work available.   I have taught nearly 25 years at OC, and for teaching 66 percent of a full time teaching load, my gross wages are less than $20,000 gross annually.  If this were a household’s only source of income, it would qualify for public assistance. 
6.         The practice of hiring of adjunct or part-time faculty began innocently enough.  During the 1970’s, enrollment from babyboomers swelled, and colleges faced a shortage of instructors, so colleges began to hire local professionals to teach a given course here and there.  Since their responsibilities were assumed limited to just teaching, colleges felt justified paying them at a discounted secondary pay rate, thereby giving birth to the two-tiered faculty workforce.  In a give-an-inch-and-take-a-mile fashion, colleges administrators embraced the practice of hiring adjuncts, not only for the significantly cheaper labor costs but for the flexibility or the expendability that adjuncts offered: if a tenured instructor’s class doesn’t fill, the college is contractually obligated to pay the instructor, but if an adjunct class doesn’t fill, he or she can be laid off without incident.  Thus, hiring adjuncts is seen by some as good business, which might be fine if we were talking about something like umbrellas that are used when needed but then put away when not.  But adjunct faculty members are people, with lives and families, and our state should be helping them, not treated them callously or with indifference.
7.         That this unfairness exists might seem bewildering, especially as adjunct faculty, in this state, are represented by a union—it’s been called higher education’s “dirty little secret.”  Isn’t a union bound but its Duty of Fair Representation to fight for equal working conditions for all its members?  Alas, a number of factors erode the community of interests that a faculty union should be and work against improvements.
8.         In a two-tiered workplace where full-time workers are paid a higher pay rate than part-timers, one might imagine that full-timers would naturally urge that part-timers be paid at the same rate to avoid having their jobs undermined by cheaper part-timer workers.  But in the case of tenured faculty, there’s no such fear since tenured faculty are contractually guaranteed a full-time load.  

9.         Not only are tenured faculty guaranteed a full-time teaching load, they are also allowed to voluntarily teach courses in addition to their full-time assignments, that is, overtime for extra money, and when they do, they often displace adjunct faculty from those courses.  This practice, which amounts to a conflict of interest, helps to explain why there has been such little progress over the last few decades at granting meaningful job security to adjuncts.  If adjunct jobs were truly protected, it would interfere with the ability of full-time faculty to teach overtime at will. 

10.       Whenever a social system has established itself and people become used to functioning in it, that social system begins to take on a life of its own and comes to be seen as the natural and normal state of affairs.  Just as no one is surprised when water runs down hill, no one is surprised when tenured faculty receive higher pay, raises that recognize teaching longevity, funds for professional development, sabbaticals, or early retirement options while adjuncts are offered none of these benefits.  That is, most people, including many adjuncts, have been lulled into accepting what Andrew Brooks terms “the most prevalent myth” about higher education (from a 2014 University Affairs article (  

that the current situation with respect to part-time and contract faculty is basically OK and nothing much needs to be done about it. It is not OK. Of two people with qualifications and experience of the same kind, if one has tenure and the other works on per-course contracts, the first is paid four times as much as the second (or more) and has job security for life. The other, in addition to awful pay, has no job security and usually no benefits (including no pension plan).
11.       Olympic College certainly demonstrated its acceptance of this myth that “nothing much needs to be done” about adjunct faculty.
            a.         It recently completed a multi-year effort at developing a strategic plan.  That plan did not involve reform for the working conditions of adjuncts.
            b.         Olympic College now has an office of Equity and Inclusion, but it’s not at all about equality for its adjunct instructors. 
            c.          During the Olympic College faculty retreat in April (on April 8), I happened to be at the same dinner table as the presenter, who was curious about the college’s support for professional development activities for adjuncts.  I criticized the college, explaining that while adjunct got a stipend for taking part in the retreat, we did not accrue credits towards a salary increase like tenured faculty do.  Also at the table was a tenured faculty member, who is a former faculty union president and who also served on the state’s 2005 Part-Time Faculty Employment Best Practices Task Force commissioned by the legislature, so his perspective represents a mainstream attitude.  He countered my criticism of the college’s treatment of adjuncts, characterizing part-time instruction as a “great part-time job.”
12.       If this is the predominant mindset of union leaders, of college administrations, of policy makers like legislators or trustees, that adjuncts are mere part-timers or maybe paraprofessionals as opposed to full-blooded professionals who happen to teach part-time, there is very little chance of improvements to the substandard working conditions, much less equality.
13.       But just as our state is paying the price for neglecting to properly fund K-12 education, we may have a fiscal if not a moral price to pay if we continue to deny equal treatment to our state’s adjuncts.
14.       The United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights is often used to identify human rights abuses.  Article 23, item (1) reads:
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
Adjuncts are laid off at the end of every quarter and therefore are offered no protection from unemployment.  
Of course, nothing stops adjuncts from holding another job to augment the income, but the state doesn’t withhold full-time employment from other classes professionals that it hires to perform essential services, like engineers or K-12 teachers or ferry boat captains, expecting them to find other means to earn a livable wage while working part-time for the state
Article 23 item (2) reads:
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
Adjuncts certainly do not receive equal pay for equal work.  Statewide adjuncts are paid 62 cents on the dollar.  
Some may argue that adjuncts do not deserve equal pay because they don’t do equal work, including the full range of services that tenured faculty are supposed to do, like holding office hours and committee work.  The reality is that many adjuncts now do far more than they are contracted to do but are not compensated for those duties; most would be delighted to do more, like holding office hours to work with students.

Article 23 item (3) reads:
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity…
When adjuncts are provided a discounted secondary pay scale and face a workload limit that prevents them from working full-time, they are deprived of “just and favourable remuneration.”
15.       The state should have learned its lesson 15 years ago.  A class action lawsuit, Mader v. State, found that every single college in the state was underreporting adjunct hours, which deprived several thousand adjuncts of health care and retirement benefits.  The lawsuits were settled in 2002 and 2003 at a cost of $25 million, and now, thanks to those class action lawsuits and subsequent legislation, all adjuncts who work at 50 percent of a full-time load are eligible for those benefits. 

But we shouldn’t have to learn our lessons the hard way.  We should do right because it’s the right thing to do. 
16.       I’d like to conclude by quoting fellow activist and the namesake of Bremerton’s newest park, Lillian Walker from the wonderful document posted at the Washington State Secretary of State's Legacy Washington website,
If you've got something to complain about, well, work at it and make it better.  And, treat everybody right. I don't care who or what they are, treat them right. You don't have the authority to mistreat anybody, because that's why we are here - to help each other. If you can help somebody, help them.
Thank you.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Community Colleges of Spokane Allow Sexist Instructor to make $98,000 a year in Criminal Justice Program at Spokane Community College April 8, 2016

SCC student alleges race and gender discrimination in complaint against Criminal Justice instructor

Posted: Apr 07, 2016 12:33 PM PDT Updated: Apr 07, 2016 2:20 PM PDT

Community Colleges of Spokane Allow Sexist Instructor to make $98,000 a year in Criminal Justice Program at Spokane Community College April 8, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

BAD BILL SHB 2615 in Washington State Legislature gets support from WFT and AFT, to Leave 7,000 Faculty in Poverty

News from the Adjunct Trenches:
In Washington State, adjunct faculty are battling a bad bill, one that promises 600 new full-time jobs, without any guarantee that adjunct faculty will get these jobs. The state unions/associations support this bad bill, which only cements the feudal/futile system presently in place. It will open up a hiring fest, and leave the hard-working adjunct faculty out in the cold.
The video of hearing for SHB 2615 is viewable at <>.
"One thing that emerges in crystal clear fashion from the  hearing is that, even though the unsatisfactory working conditions of part-time faculty were mentioned often, there is no consideration to improve the situation of current part-time faculty.  To a proponent of the Vancouver Model, where all faculty are treated equally, it would seem like there’s a blind spot in the minds of my legislators and fellow faculty that prevent them from entertaining the thought of improving the working conditions of adjuncts.
Of note are the comments by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Pollet, which begin at the [32:40:00].  Rep. Pollet claimed that his bill addresses the “part-time” issue and implied that it was a natural extension of the 2005 Best Employment Practices of Part-time Faculty ( <>).  He related his own experience as a part-time instructor at the University of Washington, confessing that for part-time instructors, when classes are finished, part-timers tend to take off, oftentimes to teach elsewhere, and in so doing, depriving students the chance to be mentored or advised.  In response to a question from Senator Bailey, the committee chair, he explained that he’d spoken to several college presidents and administrators about his bill, some of whom remarked that their institutions don’t even have space where a part-time instructor could meet with a student.
Carla Nacarrato-Sinclair [1:50:45] chair of the Washington Education Association Higher Ed council, explained that she’s worked on the part-time issue since the 1990’s, said that the legislature had focused on pay until 2007, but implied that it may have been a mistake, saying "We just need to get back to that to address the faculty mix increasing the members to full-time from part-time.”  

President of AFT Washington, Karen Strickland did not pretend that the bill would benefit part-time faculty, but assured the Senate Higher Ed committee that “There’s no way that we want to get rid of all part-time positions.  We do need a little bit of flexibility and the expertise that part-time faculty can bring.

For me, the testimony of Anna Mary Fitzgerald [1:53:25], a faculty member from South Puget Sound College, was more disappointing than Carla’s or Karen’s.  Anna Mary relates how impoverished adjunct faculty can be in our state, saying, "We have phenomenally well qualified, well education faculty that are receiving food stamps, subsidized housing, free and reduce meals, rent support, because they are below the poverty level, at 150 to 200 percent below the poverty level.  This is an opportunity to move of some of those positions into a place of stability that we, again, are promoting to our students through education.  We would like to see that happen for our faculty.”  But even if some of the impoverished adjuncts are hired into tenured positions, the bill leaves the situation of over 7,000 part-timers just as impoverished as before, and actually makes their professional lives worse—more full-time positions means fewer part-time jobs, especially if the new full-timers are inclined to teach course overloads.  As such, to be outraged by the exploitation of adjuncts but still support this bill brings to mind what Martin Luther King said about the white moderate as being more of an obstacle to progress than a KKK member.

Jack Longmate

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Washington State Part-Time Faculty Association Opposes HB 2615 as Harmful to Adjunct Professors Feb. 2, 2016

UPDATE: Feb. 20, 2016
[Washington State] Sen. Barbara Bailey has decided to hold a hearing on SHB 2615 this Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in Olympia.  This is not a good sign.

Washington State
Legislature’s Democrats ignore adjunct faculty crisis [SHB 2615 Discriminates against and Overlooks Adjunct Faculty]
Feb. 15, 2016

UPDATE Feb. 20, 2016 OP-ED by Dr. Keith Hoeller and Jack Longmate

"Rep. Gerry Pollet’s (D-Seattle) union-sponsored SHB 2615 seeks to add 600 full-time faculty positions to the colleges. It gives the false impression that these jobs will go to adjunct faculty when it fact it will cost many of them their jobs. In the past, the colleges have created new full-time jobs by taking courses away from current part-timers, as the original bill made clear."

Read more here:


UPDATE Feb. 13, 2016 from the Washington State Legislative Page

HB 2615 - 2015-16

   (What is this?)   Comment on this bill   (What is this?)

Improving student success at community and technical colleges by considering benefits of full-time faculty and staff.   

Go to documents...
Go to videos...

History of the Bill

as of Saturday, February 13, 2016 3:09 PM
 Sponsors:Representatives Pollet, Haler, Moscoso, Appleton, Fitzgibbon, Gregerson, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Lytton, Riccelli, Ryu, Reykdal, Cody, Tarleton, Frame, Van De Wege, Stanford, Goodman
  Jan 15 First reading, referred to Higher Education (Not Officially read and referred until adoption of Introduction report). (View Original Bill)
  Jan 26 Public hearing in the House Committee on Higher Education at 8:00 AM. (Committee Materials)
  Feb 3 Executive action taken in the House Committee on Higher Education at 1:30 PM. (Committee Materials)
   HE - Majority; 1st substitute bill be substituted, do pass. (View 1st Substitute) (Majority Report)
   Minority; do not pass. (Minority Report)
  Feb 5 Referred to Appropriations.
  Feb 9 Public hearing and executive action taken in the House Committee on Appropriations at 10:00 AM. (Committee Materials)
   APP - Majority; do pass HE 16 bill proposed by Higher Education. (Majority Report)
   Minority; do not pass. (Minority Report)
   Referred to Rules 2 Review.
  Feb 11 Placed on second reading by Rules Committee.
  Feb 12 1st substitute bill substituted (HE 16). (View 1st Substitute)
   Rules suspended. Placed on Third Reading.
   Third reading, passed; yeas, 50; nays, 46; absent, 0; excused, 1. (View Roll Calls)

Original Article:


Call, Write, Email Washington State Legislators to give your opinion about a bill that would push aside adjunct faculty for full-time positions. Dedicated professors, who have taught for years at our community colleges would be replaced with higher paid tenure track professors. It seems that the legislators need to read George Orwell's distopia Animal Farm, where the hard-working horse is worked to death, and then sent out for glue by the pigs. It seems that our legislators are doing the same.

  Jan 15 First reading, referred to Higher Education (Not Officially read and referred until adoption of Introduction report). (View Original Bill)
  Jan 26 Public hearing in the House Committee on Higher Education at 8:00 AM. (Committee Materials)
  Jan 29 Executive session scheduled, but no action was taken in the House Committee on Higher Education at 10:00 AM. (Committee Materials)
  Feb 3 Scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Higher Education at 1:30 PM. (Subject to change) (Committee Materials)
  Feb 5 Scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Higher Education at 8:00 AM. (Subject to change) (Committee Materials)

Sponsors:Representatives Pollet, Haler, Moscoso, Appleton, Fitzgibbon, Gregerson, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Lytton, Riccelli, Ryu, Reykdal, Cody, Tarleton, Frame, Van De Wege, Stanford, Goodman

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