By 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.