In a recent article, The New York Times has shed more light on the adjunct labor problem. The article focuses on adjunct instructor James D. Hoff, who completed his Ph.D. in English nearly 18 months ago and can’t find a full-time job, despite having published several articles. The article is rather short, but does contain some alarming info, especially the statistic that from 1993 to 2011, the percentage of faculty members without tenure surged nationally from 57 percent to 70 percent, according to the American Association of University Professors. The article also points out that a lot of adjuncts used to just teach a class or two outside of their full-time job, but now it’s more and more common that adjuncts are scholars like Hoff with a family and mounting debt.
Good for The New York Times for writing again about this issue; however, the article is rather short and doesn’t mention anything being done to address this issue such as the unionization of adjuncts at NY schools. I encourage anyone concerned about the issue to write a letter to the editor to the Times or your own local paper to keep the conversation going.
One bright note the article points out is that the CUNY system has provided $10 million to support health benefits for adjuncts, and supports a program to move about 200 adjuncts into full-time jobs. With a continued conversation about this issue and continued pressure put on colleges and university, perhaps other academic institutions will follow CUNY’s model. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.