As Evan Rowe reports, he and his fellow adjuncts are working to unionize at Broward College (it’s the community college of Broward County, FL, which includes Fort Lauderdale). Rowe is one of the BC army of adjuncts making $16k a year, usually teaching only one class fewer than tenure-track professors who make several times as much, get health benefits, have job security, and get keys to the tenured-faculty washroom, where they wear smoking jackets and eat bon-bons. OK, I’m exaggerating on the bon-bons, and no one ever gave me a smoking jacket. But here’s the main point: especially given the kind of “leadership” provided by BC president J. David Armstrong, this is further proof of the intentional casualization of the academic workforce for no other reason than to cut a few financial corners, burnish upper-administrators’ sense of toughness, and to deny faculty and any meaningful say over the terms of employment, much less curriculum or how universities ought to be run.
Last week’s two-day strike was the first in the history of University of Illinois-Chicago. We all hope it’s the last: administration because it doesn’t like to be embarrassed and get negative publicity for its own policies (Ph.D’s trying to live on $30,000 in Chicago?), and faculty because it shouldn’t have to come to this. What at least one reporter thought was notable was that increased salaries and job security for non-tenure track faculty was central to the strike. It’s not that he’s wrong; as union leaders proudly proclaim, those are central demands.