Merde, Sam Goldwyn Was Right

San Antonio College French Lecturer Pierre Schmitz could have used a little advice from movie mogul Sam Goldwyn.  Monsieur Schmitz worked as a full-time adjunct instructor until quite recently. Well, until he was demoted. He wasn’t demoted for smoking those nasty French Galois cigarettes in class, or passing out glasses of Beaujolois Nouveau to underage French language students. He was demoted because he’d taught two years as a full-time adjunct instructor, and the district policy quite clearly states that once an adjunct teaches two years full-time, s/he must be demoted to part-time status. Merde.

Here’s the catch: When Pierre Schmitz was hired full-time, he alleges, he was told that if he built up the college’s French language program and enrollment he would be given a full-time job. According to this piece published in the Ranger Online, Schmitz says, “I was promised a full-time position if I built up the program. I built up the program and was teaching full-time until Aug. 25, and then whack!”

Schmitz contacted the Chancellor and was comforted when he received an email reply that said “the district is committed to fairness and integrity.” Well, kinda. It took a visit to the President of the college for Pierre Schmitz to understand that he was getting the bum’s rush regardless of the “promise” of a full-time position.

When are part-time faculty going to get that, as Sam Goldwyn once said, verbal promises aren’t worth the paper they’re written on? Schmitz, it seems, neglected to get the “promise” of a full-time job in writing. Foreign languages Chair Anna Budzinski was quoted as saying, “Schmitz is an outstanding instructor and I would love to keep him. He developed the program, and he poured a lot of work into it.” How nice for her. Pardon my French, but anyone who pours a lot of work into any project on the “promise” of future compensation is as daft as Inspector Jacques Clouseau.

I’m not saying that Schmitz was treated with fairness and integrity. Far from it. However, neither did Schmitz safeguard his job, value his work, and protect his rights with the savvy one might expect from someone with a graduate degree. So, I’m going to ask everyone reading this to promise me one thing. Please. Get verbal promises made to you set down in writing. Send a registered letter to the Department Chair outlining any and all “promises.” Because you know what? If your employer won’t put a promise of a promotion, raise or compensation in writing, you can pretty well count on the fact that the promise wasn’t ever going to be honored.

Otherwise, as Goldwyn also said, at some point in your teaching career, you’ll surely end up taking the bitter with the sour. 

 

 

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1 Comments

  1. I found the account of Monsieur Pierre Schmitz amusing but I think it is naive to think that written agreement can be more protective for adjuncts than verbal ones. Do you think that in the written agreement situation, an adjunct would hire an attorney and eventually go to court to secure a position with an institution? Pas du tout! I did sign several agreements with institutions and had to requests several time in writing the proper application of the obligations contained in them (i.e. payment of salary). An adjunct educator is a passionate individual who does not necessarily have the mind of a businessman or of a lawyer when entering a position. Some institutions are abusing this and your story proves that. Merci beaucoup for sharing it with us.

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