May 2020 Advocate: AFT survey looks at adjunct faculty issues


AFT survey looks at adjunct faculty issues; finds low pay, poor benefits, varied job satisfaction

The American Academic survey released March 22 by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is one of the first national surveys of part-time and adjunct higher education faculty and aims to address three fundamental questions: Who are part-time and adjunct faculty members? Under what conditions do they work? And, how do they view their work and the challenges they face on campus? The survey is a national sample of 500 part-time and adjunct faculty employed at two- and four-year public and private nonprofit higher education institutions.

Highlights of the survey include:
Many adjuncts make less than $3500 per course and $25,000 per year
• Most of those surveyed—57 percent—said they are in their jobs primarily because they like teaching and not primarily for the money. Still, most are not satisfied with their working conditions, which they believe are inadequate.
• About 50 percent of part-time and adjunct faculty prefer part-time teaching, while 47 percent would like to have full-time teaching jobs. Differences in survey responses surfaced repeatedly between these two groups.
• Job satisfaction is fairly high (about 60 percent overall), although satisfaction varies considerably between those who would prefer full-time employment (49 percent are very or mainly satisfied) and those who prefer to work part time (75 percent).
• Bread-and-butter issues are a major concern—about 57 percent of those surveyed said their salaries fall short, 28 percent said they receive health insurance on the job, and only 39 percent said they have retirement benefits through their employment.
• Job security is a major concern, with 41 percent saying their job security falls short of expectations.

To address the low pay of part-time faculty in our own district (part-timers currently earn only 60-70% of a full-timer’s salary), our union is asking our District to establish “pay parity” to bring the pay of our part-time faculty up to 85% of what a full-time faculty member earns.
Most districts have already established a parity goal, but our District has refused to define one. It’s time to make it happen, and we can do that with your help.