California Set to Institutionalize Jim Crow For Adjuncts


leskoBy P.D. Lesko

Separate but equal. It seemed like a workable solution in the 1890s, when the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on Plessy vs. Ferguson. You have yours and we’ll have ours. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Of course we can’t live in a society where people are legally segregated by race. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still racial segregation in the United States, but it’s not legal.

Under the guise of bringing “equity” not parity mind you, but equity to California adjuncts, legislators in that state, at the urging of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), are prepared to introduce Senate Bill 114, which would require “community college districts to create salary and benefit scales for part-time faculty that reflect the ones that exist for full-time faculty,” according to the AFT’s FACE blog. The Bill is being introduced by state senator Leland Yee.

So why should adjuncts fight legislative efforts such as these? For the simple reason that equity is not parity. For the past several years, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have been pushing hard, spending, literally, tens of millions on political contributions, to buy legislators who will introduce FACE legislation (bills that call for limits on the numbers of part-time faculty, overall, a state’s colleges may employ). In one state, the Vice President of the local college’s faculty union ran for state office, and his campaign was financed largely by the union. He turned right around and “championed” the idea that colleges in his state should support getting rid of adjuncts while increasing the numbers of and pay for full-time faculty.

Leland Yee didn’t get political donations directly for the CFT. The union gave to the state Democratic party which, in turn, was Yee’s largest single donor. The CFT gave Yee political endorsements, instead, by pushing Yee’s candidacy to CFT members.

So what’s up with the “equity” versus “parity” issue? Read this, and then take a little blue pill, because you’re going to need it.

Putting part-time faculty on their own little “salary schedule,” and then calling it progress is like making them ride in the back of the bus and calling it a fair shake. The labor unions in this country, unlike those in Canada, where faculty off the tenure-track are represented by education unions that have demonstrated a steely determination to provide parity in exchange for union dues, have spent the last several years blaming adjuncts for many of the problems that face higher education.

In this country, part-time faculty have been turned into the villains and scapegoats by the country’s higher education union leaders.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: until part-time faculty get out from under the thumbs of the higher education unions that have failed to represent their best interests over the past four decades, these union leaders will continue to use adjuncts to leverage better pay and benefits for one class of faculty: tenure-line faculty. It’s not personal, mind you. It’s just business. Bad business that has adversely impacted the quality of life for three quarters of a million faculty off the tenure-track, and the 12,000,000 undergraduates whom these faculty teach.

Leland Yee is just one in a growing line of Stepford Legislators whom the national education unions have bought with endorsements and donations—legislators who will do what they are asked to do, even if it’s clearly not in the best interests of higher education or necessarily even their own constituents who work in higher education.

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  1. Phyllis, the only movement that is slower than the one to achieve pay parity for adjuncts in the movement to achieve pay parity for women in the workplace. Equity is a step backward packaged and sold as a step forward. Unions that push it are not representing their adjunct faculty equally. You would no more push pay equity on your full-time faculty as you would ask them to believe it was a step toward eventual, promised, parity. There would be an armed insurrection in the higher education unions is such a move were attempted.

  2. Sandra, the CFT part-time faculty committee members are elected, appointed? It’s often the case that part-time faculty on such committees are wholly in lock step with what the full-time faculty who run the local want to do. When this doesn’t happen, we see part-time faculty bullied. This is what happened recently in a local in Washington State when a VP testified before the state legislature that the union’s plan was NOT in the best interests of the adjuncts. His direct supervisor, also a member of the local’s Exec. Committee, asked this guy to resign.

    So, unless you took a vote, which I’m guessing you didn’t, the drive doesn’t represent the will of the adjuncts, but rather the will of a part-time committee.

    Then, we have the simple issue that you would never be satisfied with pay “equity” if it were applied to female faculty, as a group. You want parity. We all do. Equity is not in the best interests of adjuncts. Parity is.

  3. @Thane, thanks for the comment. You’re right that I didn’t realize that there are a lot more definitions for “little blue pill.” We just watched The Matrix. Blue pill. Viagra. Blue pill. Valium is obviously the blue pill I meant!

  4. This bill did come out of work done by the CFT Part-time Committee. SB114 is a small step forward in accomplishing what in the year 2000 was the first piece of substantial legislation in California, AB420, which called for, but couldn’t mandate parity pay (including a definition of parity). For adjunct faculty in California the problem has always been how does one measure parity for part-time faculty when progress on salary schedules for adjuncts is not aligned with the criteria for full-time faculty?
    Simply aligning that criteria, we see as the first step to acheiving pay parity.
    In a tight fiscal environment, it is not very costly to work on rating in adjunct faculty according the same benchmarks used for full-time faculty but getting pay equity is all but impossible within the constraints of our present state budget.
    The CFT Part-time Committee sees the accomplishment of this goal as a stepping stone to achieving the pay equity that has eluded adjunct faculty for the past 11 years. It would eventually allow for fine tuning of individual areas of the part-time salary schedule that are drastically out of line with the salary base of full-timers and would help align pay for all part-time faculty based on load so that they are compensated in the same way full-time faculty are.

  5. This bill actually did not come from the AFT or CFT leadership; the concept was proposed and unanimously endorsed by part-time faculty members on the CFT part-time committee, and approved through the CFT convention resolution process. Unlike some past resolutions that never made it into bills, the CFT legislative advocacy arm is actually going after what its part-timers want with this bill. The appropriate source on this would be Phyllis Eckler, dance instructor at Glendale and LA CCDs and chair of the CFT Part-time Committee. The purpose and effect of the bill is misrepresented in this article.

  6. Take a couple more minutes to edit, P.D.!

    “Don’t get me wrong, there’s still racial segregation in the United States, but it’s not legal.” This is the end of your lead-in paragraph, and you then begin talking about adjuncts. Adjuncts are not a race, though. Perhaps you did not intend to suggest that as an analogy–perhaps you intended only segregation as the analogy. But you’ve left your intention unclear.

    “Read this, and then take a little blue pill, because you’re going to need it.” To people in their fifties and up, a little blue pill could mean Viagra or it could mean Valium. I’m guessing you mean the second, though many see ongoing impotence as a major problem of adjuncts. To people in their fifties and below, the little blue pill is likely to mean the pill from The Matrix that assures ignorance rather than knowledge, though. This red/blue pill pairing has become a pretty widespread cultural meme. Now why would you be recommending the choice of ignorance to adjuncts?

    I know it’s “only” a blog, but it sits on the Internet reflecting the clarity of your thinking every day. So take the extra couple of minutes to reread and edit more carefully!

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