Monday, 05 November 2012 12:40

Divide and conquer

By Catherine Whitley (EUP English & Theatre Arts)


Sun Tzu (ca. 500 B.C.), Philip II of Macedonia (382-336 B.C.), and Julius Caesar (102-44 B.C.) are each credited with the first articulation of this very effective strategy: divide your enemies into smaller groups to fragment their power, so you can more easily conquer and then rule them.


The most recent proposals by PASSHE administrators constitute an attempt to divide faculty members into two separate camps and set us against each other in order to weaken the power solidarity affords us.


Specifically, if PASSHE successfully implements its suggested changes to our next CBA, faculties at state schools will be sundered into a two-tier system.  Tenured and tenure-track faculty will make up the “upper” tier, while temporary faculty, who presently constitute more than 30% of all current PASSHE faculty members, will be relegated to the “lower” tier, one that will resign them to either an increased workload (5 classes each semester) or reduced pay (a 35% reduction).  Compensation for temporary faculty will no longer be calculated according to the union pay scale; instead, a separate, “competitive” pay scale based on local markets will be devised.  Given the depressed local economies in Pennsylvania, in future contracts this pay scale could likely result in even larger reductions in salary than 35%.


Tenured and tenure-track professors must not allow this to happen; we must not disenfranchise the weakest members of our community for our own gain.


Adopting an “Us” versus “Them” mentality would not only divide our ranks; this mindset would signal our surrender of power to the administrators.   Let’s face it: we are they.  Yes, most of us can recall working as a “lecturer” or an “adjunct” at some institution (or several).  Yes, we worked hard to get our tenured or tenure-track jobs.  But remember: our temporary faculty work hard, too, while also finishing up degrees and/or going out on the (dismal) job market.  If tenured and tenure-track faculty cooperate with a system that denigrates our fellow employees, then we accept the PASSHE system’s valuation of us all as not being worthy of fair treatment.  We are indicating that we will take whatever they feel like dishing out without remonstration.   


Temporary faculty members are our colleagues.  We should treat them as such.  They teach the same classes and the same students as we do, for significantly less money, and without any real job security.  PASSHE is pushing to expand the number of temporary faculty members teaching on our campuses; if this effort is successful, temporary faculty will be a growing, permanent underclass.  If APSCUF members help to create this underclass now, why should temporary faculty care about the union or its members in the future?  We will be divided; we will be conquered.


Instead, we must all stand together and stay strong.


Dr. Catherine Whitley is a professor at Edinboro University. After getting her Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine, she worked as a temporary faculty member at UCI and then at USC.  She has been teaching at Edinboro University since Fall 2002.


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#5 M 2012-12-05 16:39
Many full-time adjunct faculty members do committee work and advising students. It is listed in some of the job advertisements out there. I started as a full-time adjunct, and I was hired for a tenure-track position out of a national search. My university is glad to have me on board. None of this would have happened if they had limited my pay as a starting temporary faculty member to Instructor Step 1 as they currently do, much less lowered it further. I could never have left the job I already had (which paid well) to take the opportunity.
#4 Garp 2012-11-17 01:53
Cbo, where your logic breaks down is that if adjuncts are relegated to a lower pay scale, you won't necessarily have less people applying for jobs, but more likely you will get less qualified people applying. Secondly, paying adjuncts on a lower scale encourages the administration to hire more adjuncts rather than tenure-track faculty. Concessions in previous contracts have already frozen adjuncts at the bottom step of the pay scale, and what has been the result? A greater percentage of faculties are now part-time and temporary. Finally, all this sidesteps the issue of fairness. Is it fair to pay an adjunct (who may, by the way, have more experience than many full time tenure-track faculty members) on a lower scale? Isn't freezing them on the bottom step enough? They've got to make a living, too. I think that PASSHE knows the implications very well, but it's all part of their "divide and conquer" strategy.
#3 CBo 2012-11-10 11:09
Adjuncts are not supposed to engage in committee work or advising students. However, for full-time adjuncts who have been around for awhile, I know some have taken on a few tasks normally done by tenured or tenured-track faculty.

Just a thought - if we allow 'market forces' to prevail and salaries to reflect 'going rates' - will we lose out on the number of adjuncts who apply? If so, is this a bad thing? If the fear is that our system will be taken over by adjuncts but the salary is terrible and adjuncts don't apply - haven't we secured tenured lines by the lack of adjuncts pounding on the gates to get in?

Where have I gone wrong in my logic....
#2 Mark Banks 2012-11-05 16:32
The divide started with the last contract, relegating temp faculty to staying at the lowest rung of the ladder, and giving the institution the power to renew temps indefinitely without moving them in to permanent positions.
Having served on the legislative assembly for most of my 19 years in APSCUF, I witnessed the last three contracts as having more give-backs than increases for faculty. I think it's time to stop the trend.
#1 Z 2012-11-05 14:03
Does that mean they will also be required to advise and serve on committees? or will this continue to be the load of ft regular tenure track/tenured faculty? Or will they hire adjuncts who are less qualified for the "lecture" positions or have not earned qualifying degrees which means other qualified individuals will not be employed ft and serving the needs of all of the students including in service, teaching, and scholarship.

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