Thompson, Karen. “Faculty at the Crossroads: Making the Part-Time Problem a Full-Time Focus.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 185-195.
Thompson describes some of the solutions she thinks would help solve the adjunct labor problem, drawing on the lessons learned in the UPS Teamsters strike: along with pro rata compensation, she argues that adjunct faculty need to identify each other and become visible inside and outside the university, that full-time faculty need to join with adjunct faculty to argue for better working conditions, and that the problem needs to be explained to parents, taxpayers, and legislators so they can be in alliance with faculty (coalition building). Thompson contends that full-time faculty need to begin to acknowledge how universities are increasingly run through cost-driven management instead of in the best interests of faculty and students. She argues that it’s not only the overproduction of PhDs (a buyer’s market for universities) that is creating the adjunct labor problem: it is an erosion of tenure and full-time faculty lines, as universities are increasingly relying on part-time adjunct labor to teach their courses, as evidenced by the high demand for last-minute adjunct jobs.
Notes and Quotes
compares higher ed labor situation to UPS strike
“Economic problems need economic solutions.” (187).
part-timers who accept their situation: “Where do they get the idea this is an apprenticeship or the Peace Corps?” (189).
leading to the problem: increased administrative costs, which can happen with increasing reliance on low-pay adjunct wages.
full-time faculty need to use their seniority and power to work for adjuncts.
“visibility, unity, and persistence” (194) – the keys to success.