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.

We all know enough about the plight of full-time adjuncts to know that they are exploited any number of ways.  As an institution with 67,000 students, BC has more than enough work to hire people like Rowe full-time, but clearly as a matter of policy schedules them just under full-time threshold.  It happens just about everywhere.  Indeed, at BGSU my august university, I know of enough examples on one of our campuses to suggest a conscious pattern, rather than just a result of the vagaries of scheduling in any given semester.  It’s done as a matter of saving money and, no doubt, having a more tractable workforce than us pesky tenure-track and tenured folk.

But there’s more: take a look at BC president Armstrong’s bio.  Here’s a fellow who seems to relish being a member of the board of Leadership Florida, the self-appointed fearless architects of the Sunshine State’s future.  If, as he claims, Armstrong values education, what is the goal for BC’s 67,000 students?  It seems to be that either they will become, like Armstrong, Masters of the Universe (this kind, not that kind), or, much more likely, like Rowe, casualized, undercompensated, undifferentiated labor units.

That’s yet another reason why, tenured or not, all faculty should support adjunct faculty.  Not only because it’s the right thing to do if we truly value our colleagues (not as BC says but doesn’t do) and the education of our students and our own children, but also, because it’s the future for most academic labor if we don’t speak out.

Whatcha thinkin'?

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