Catholic Colleges Face Religious Objections to Adjunct Income Inequality
Gerald J. Beyer, associate professor of Christian ethics at Villanova University, has posted an interesting journal article that holds Catholic universities accountable for their treatment of poorly paid adjunct faculty. He writes:
Some Catholic institutions pay significantly above the national median per course, but the pay rate for most adjuncts on our campuses mostly mirrors national trends. Moreover, the fact that Catholic universities employ academics as temp workers as opposed to full time workers with decent benefits and job security is inexcusable — even if they try to justify it with a utilitarian logic alien to Catholic social teaching. Saving costs on the backs of adjuncts to keep tuition down while spending money on highly paid administrators, athletics coaches, expensive athletics facilities, stadiums and luxury dorms runs afoul of the church’s “preferential option for the poor.” To add insult to injury, several Catholic university administrations have blocked the efforts of adjuncts to unionize, thereby stripping them of what John Paul II deemed an indispensable “mouthpiece in the struggle for social justice.”
Also writing on the Catholic Church’s teaching on the right to unionize, Jim Dwyer reports in the Times of support that Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of New York has shown for car wash workers who have unionized — including a worker who will meet Pope Francis next week.
Whether for car washers or adjunct professors, this is how income inequality can be addressed. Catholic universities need to try harder to heed this tradition in Catholic teaching. No one is saying this is easy but, as Beyer notes, a good step would be to stop filing legal challenges to prevent adjuncts from unionizing.
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