As someone who has been working as an adjunct at one of the local universities for the past 13 years, I must address an issue that has not yet surfaced.
Aside from the low pay, lack of job security, benefits and resources, the most egregious assault upon adjuncts is the fact that although unemployment taxes are taken from every paycheck, we are unable to file for unemployment compensation during the summer months when we are not teaching.
This is due to the fact that we are teachers with a "guarantee" of "reasonable assurance" that we will be hired back the following semester. The only "reasonable assurance" that we adjuncts have is uncertainty. My contributions to my students are valued -- as much as they can be -- by my department. However, even with a signed contract in hand, it can be canceled for a variety of reasons, through no fault of my own. The "reasonable assurance" clause tells me that universities are counting on the fact that we adjuncts will remain underemployed and available, provided we make it through the summer.
I welcome attempts to unionize and urge the United Steelworkers to take an active lead. We adjuncts are too busy and too fragmented to be the driving force behind the movement.
First Published October 15, 2013 8:00 PM