As many know firsthand, the livelihoods of teaching staff at public universities have changed dramatically in the last 40 years. The shrinkage of tenure track positions, the creation of an underpaid and overworked full-time, non tenured track layer of educators, and the growth an underpaid, part-time faculty–many often needing food stamps to support their families to subsist, all have changed the nature of the what it means to teach at a university. For part-timers in particular, economic security from semester to semester is tenuous at best. All faculty, the central link between students and their education , deserve to be treated as more than a supplementary, nonessential component of the university. For part-time faculty who now represent more than 50% of all faculty at universities across the nation, this grows more true from semester to semester. ( https://www.aaup.org/issues/contingency/background-facts )
The truth is part-time faculty will not work. It serves neither the students nor the progressive mission of the university, and it unquestionably does not serve the lives of those committed professionals who choose the important task of educating our future leaders. Their chosen profession should serve as an example to students and the community alike as to the value of an education and the respect and dignity that accompanies one that has it.
Through the intentional corporatization and financial starving of public universities by declining state budget allocations, the university has been forced to shift to emphasizing profit rather than the quality of education. The precarious economic position of part-time faculty is not an unintentional outcome, but very much an intentional shift to low wage, part-time work, where affordable health care and a secure retirement are but a dream, unless, of course, we unite to change it.
In order to counteract this seemingly unstoppable tide, we are taking action to build a movement to improve the lives of part-time faculty. We can create “one faculty” and “one university” where all faculty enjoy the rights and privileges that unionization brings, no matter the union we choose to bring this about. Creating a union of part-time faculty is the only way to keep us from remaining isolated, powerless individuals one without a voice able to address our needs and needs of the students and the university.
However, we cannot do it alone. If we want to live with a dignity commensurate with our education and professionalism, one that rewards our daily commitment to our students, we must join together and stand as one. Being 0ver 50% of the faculty, if we stand as one we can make change. We have much work ahead. Write to us at our contact page and get involved.
*adjunct – a thing added to something else as a supplementary rather than an essential part.
The KPTFA Organizing Committee
Susan, Chris, Brianna, Christin, Ken, Jim, and Mike
“Anyone with a part-time job works full-time for half salary.”—Denise D. Lynn