So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day mayday mayday. Martyrdom in the workplace.

"Mayday, mayday, mayday."
The Mayday procedure word was originated in 1923, by a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London. The officer, Frederick Stanley Mockford, was asked to think of a word that would indicate distress and would easily be understood by all pilots and ground staff in an emergency. Since much of the traffic at the time was between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport in Paris, he proposed the word "Mayday" from the French "m'aider", a shortened version of "venez m'aider" (meaning "come and help me").—Wikipedia/Oxford Dictionary
There is a class of highly skilled "part-time" worker who, typically contributing the same and far more hours than their tenured colleagues for a far inferior wage and little hope of career advancement, is routinely subject to job instability and barely able to keep up with paying basic bills. That skilled worker is the sessional college instructor or adjunct professor.

"Part-time" employees, adjunct and sessional instructors, fearing loss of job or further marginalization should they raise the issues of job security and a living wage, acquiesce and fade into the background.
Sessional and adjunct employees are routinely kept on a leash, exploited for years with empty promises of increased employment. Their good faith has been used to serve an institution that frequently pits one sessional employee against another in order to avoid the responsibility to honour commitment and excellence by promoting employees to decent salaried positions. Rather than honouring services rendered by promoting adjunct faculty to more senior positions, or at least offering additional teaching opportunities to established adjunct faculty to bolster income, departments hire additional part-time staff to undermine the acquisition of seniority by adjunct faculty. To ensure no part-time employee accrues seniority, college departments hire two or more employees to teach four courses, for example, that one currently employed part-timer could teach.

Administrators seem unwilling to realize their complicity with a system that is structured to keep people in their places while a select few climb the wage ladder and burden the system with exorbitant wages for relatively little work done. Meanwhile, equally qualified sessional (part-time) faculty assume the lion's share of the teaching load for, typically, one quarter to one sixth of the wage or less of their full-time colleagues.

The exploitation and disservice university administrations show toward their adjunct faculty is one of many reasons why universities will fail completely sooner than later if such injustice is not addressed. For all the talk in academic circles about the widening gap between the rich and the poor, precious little is being done to address the issue in those same hallowed halls.
If more people knew how many tenured professors teach less than fifteen hours per week, take frequent fully funded sabbaticals and balk at sitting on two or three committees which meet perhaps four or five times a year each—while making in excess of $100,000 per year—imagine the outrage! Provinces and states could save a bundle (and redirect the savings to public schools, i.e., elementary, middle and high schools) if tenure positions were converted into teaching-professor (i.e., senior instructor) positions that would still pay a substantial salary and that would likely be double to triple the wage ($15K - $25K) sessional instructors currently earn. The inability of supposedly intelligent administrators to resolve a massive disparity that demeans an entire class of worker is a stinging indictment of universities that so often claim to be supportive of social justice in the work place.
Though a very small minority of tenured professors empathize with their adjunct and sessional colleagues and occasionally support their junior colleagues out of their own pockets by having adjuncts teach a course in their stead (tenured faculty can apply to their professional development funds to recover their "donations"), sessional and adjunct staff can hardly rely on mere crumbs to offset starvation wages.

A bad situation is made worse when tenured faculty and administrators complain that sessional instructors and adjunct professors are expensive and that sessional instructor's and adjunct professor's wages are a drain on an institution's budget. Meanwhile, according to representative unions, in many Canadian university departments, adjunct professors teach between 60% and 90% of the course loads. These are the same adjuncts that routinely win the majority of the teaching awards. At one West coast Canadian university, award recognition for teaching excellence, i.e., award policy that formerly lumped all faculty members together for consideration, has been "nuanced" to separate adjuncts from tenured faculty because tenured faculty couldn't compete with the success of their part-time colleagues. Part-timers were winning the lion's share of teaching awards.

Greed, it must be said, will not allow those who benefit most from a cockeyed system to be enthusiasts for change.

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