“Program for Change: 2010-2030″ (A Proposal for Discussion)

This version was published on 8/12/10.  For a slightly updated version, see Version 9.28.10 at this site.

A Program for Change: 2010-2030 (Version 8.12.10)

1. Introduction

1.A  The dysfunctional state of faculty employment in post-secondary education in 2010 is well documented and well known.  Over the last few decades, corporatization has fragmented faculty.  It has resulted in a caste-like structure with primarily two tiers.  The majority of the faculty occupies the lower tier and is recognized as performing only a portion of the job, classroom instruction; these faculty tend to be compensated at a rate of pay in violation of the principle of “equal pay for equal work,” often resulting in a poverty-level income.  They work in complete insecurity.  They are left to draw upon the satisfaction of working with students as their chief inspiration to continue because of their dismal working conditions and the equally dismal prospects for improvement.

1.B Yet despite decades of activism, widely published and publicized issues, and Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL) gatherings and other conferences, the movement for reform has not been able to coalesce around a focused set of goals that, as they are achieved over time, will lead to the correction of the current system and its discriminatory structure.  As activists within NFM, we, with input from many involved in the movement, have developed such a plan, called a Program for Change.  It is being circulated among the NFM Board and current membership for feedback, which is still ongoing.  We are sharing it with the NFM Board and membership in the hope of eliciting further suggestions and support, and plan to submit it for official NFM endorsement according to the procedures set out in the NFM Bylaws.  To that end we have included a response form for your convenience.  We believe that it’s time to begin.   It is our hope that the Program for Change will inspire higher education stakeholders to set in motion campaigns of action designed to achieve incremental change in the short term and build upon successes over time resulting in the transformational change for the system as a whole.

1.C The Program for Change will benefit contingent faculty to be sure.  But it will also benefit the whole of higher education and, most significantly, students and our collective future.   Higher education is key for achieving social mobility for the individual and growth and wellbeing for society.   Yet when the majority of teaching faculty face disincentives at every turn to staying professionally commitment to their discipline and their teaching because their jobs are not assured but contingent on factors outside of their control, the country’s long-term economic and social wellbeing is put at risk.  Indeed, the dysfunctional two-tiered system defies American ethical values related to fairness and equal pay for equal work and decency.  “A healthy, well-funded, democratic, and accessible system of higher education,” says Joe Berry, “requires both a decently treated workforce to operate it and a broader society that values schools over warfare and prisons.”   U.S. higher education requires a coherent, reasonable strategy for progress, which the Program for Change aims to be.  Because it may take a generation to transform the dysfunctional system to arrive at a workplace free of discrimination based on employment status, it’s vital that the process start now.

2. The Program and Incrementalism

2.A The Program for Change is a strategic plan that we feel is necessary to establish true and healthy normative standards that would revitalize the integrity of the post-secondary teaching profession over the next generation.  The Program has both short-term and long-term goals but, mindful of the difficult nature of change, proposes accomplishing these goals through incremental steps.   It is modeled on actual practices in places like California, Quebec, and particularly British Columbia.  Successes in those jurisdictions were achieved mostly through traditional collective bargaining.  However, in recognition of the fact that circumstances differ around the country, the Program supports the use of any means available in addition to collective bargaining: negotiation with progressive administrations, legislative changes, informal direct action and protest, and/or court rulings.

2.B The Program for Change identifies over thirty aspects of post-secondary work and suggests incremental improvements to each, usually over five-year time frames.  However, it is not meant to be prescriptive or proscriptive.  It is hoped that activists working for change can find some aspects to work on and start to achieve measurable successes.   Of course, the wider the approach, the more equity could be achieved; the faster the approach, the quicker equity could be achieved, but those achievements depend on local conditions.   Goals, strategies and tactics have to determined locally where activists know what’s needed most, what’s achievable with reasonable risk, and how best to achieve it.  The Program for Change is not meant for employers or those who would resist change; it is meant to provide ideas for those fighting for change.

2.C. The essence of the Program for Change is normalization, by which we mean that after a faculty member has undergone a defined probationary period, he or she becomes a normal employee whose status is no longer probationary or contingent, with the attendant rights and protections that accompany non-probationary status.  The Program proposes no-cost measures, such as establishment of a seniority system and seniority rights, a defined period of probation, fair evaluations subject to due process, protection of academic freedom provisions, and termination only for just cause with due process.  It also proposes measures that do involve costs, such as a single salary scale for all faculty, health insurance, paid leaves, compensatory rights if layoff or termination does occur, and opportunities for professional development.

2.D  Normalization means raising the rights, salary, and job security of the bottom tier to a level of normal equity.  It enables educators to have a good career without the necessity of being tenured.  Normalization is based on what is termed “regularization” in the post-secondary system of British Columbia, where it exists in actual practice.

2.E  The program assumes that regardless of the length and full-time or part-time status of the initial appointment that faculty start with probationary status or in a probationary phase.  They are subject to summative evaluation during this time.  This probationary period lasts either for a defined time or for a defined full-time equivalent (FTE) period.   During the probationary period, the faculty member has rights to reappointment based on his/her seniority.

2.F After successfully completing a fair and timely evaluation process, an individual faculty person will be converted to normal, regular, or non-probationary status regardless of their time-status.  If part-time, they can then continue to work up to full-time status, but only when they wish to, based on a seniority right of first refusal to additional work.  With this status, they will accrue further seniority on an equal basis with full-timers.  Job security means that they and their institution fully expect them to continue working at their time-status until retirement.  It means that they have layoff protection rights; that is, layoff is only for a defined cause and after due process, including grievance process protection, notice periods, and transfer rights.  If layoff does happen, they also have transfer rights, severance, and/or recall rights.  Job security means they have a career.

2.G At present, not knowing if they will be offered an appointment the next term, even with a decade or more at their institution, contingent faculty routinely suppress inclinations to exercise or claim what should be their right to academic freedom.  The lack of job security and appropriate pay often leads to the necessity of taking on multiple jobs, which can lead to having to compromise their commitment to their students, or an aversion to wider participation in the affairs of the institution or the community.  They may be unable or reluctant to speak their mind or join their union, fearing that doing so could cast them in a negative light and thus undermine their chances of future work assignments.  The program calls for Academic Freedom protection provisions for all faculty from first hire, regardless of their status, and provisions protecting faculty members with the due process protection of grievance rights and/or institutional process rights.  It also calls for unions and departments to democratically include all faculty members as full members with all the attendant rights and obligations.

2.H A further consequence of a perpetual probationary status and discounted pay for contingent faculty is the erosion of their ability to maintain their dedication to their teaching discipline and the reading, writing, and research that are phases of post-secondary teaching.  However, when their jobs are no longer contingent but regularized or normalized and protected by due process, when pay is based on the same salary scale as other faculty performing the same type of work, with equal recognition and reward for professional development, and when seniority is accrued that contributes to their job security, such faculty are empowered to exercise their academic freedom and dedicate themselves to high standards and excellence in their teaching.

2.I   A key feature of the program, as an examination of the accompanying table will show, is that such advances cannot usually be attained wholly-formed.  They need to be broken down into smaller incremental gains that will over time lead to the ultimate goals.  The program does not envisage its presentation as a whole but that advocates would focus on the suggested set of immediate goals and build upon them in future campaigns by focusing on the subsequent sets of goals.

3. Program for Change and Tenure

3.A The Program for Change does not threaten the institution of tenure or propose to replace it.  Tenure protects academic freedom and the jobs of faculty vulnerable to cuts, such as those in small departments.  Tenure is extraordinary job security not evidenced in the wider world of employment.  But as of 2010, with only the minority of faculty being tenured, the strength of tenure as a protection for the faculty voice and collective power has been effectively circumvented through the dependency on contingency for the vast majority of appointments.

3.B Tenure can and should continue as the extraordinary level of job security and academic freedom that it is.  However, we propose that eventually tenure be delinked from salary and time-status.  This does not imply a reduction in compensation for currently tenured faculty or those on tenure track.  In the future, however, tenure would be granted without significant cost impact.

4. Scope, Timeline, and Implementation

4.A In setting forth goals with a timeline, some may feel that a twenty-year period is too long, fearing that such a distant goal will discourage change.  As the table below shows, the majority of the Program for Change’s milestones are proposed within the first five to ten years.  Arguably the most important of all relate to job security and seniority, which are proposed as being effected as soon as possible at the institutional level, as they require little to no funding or legislation.  These changes, indeed, should encourage contingent faculty who stand to benefit from their accomplishment.  We feel, however, that it is not realistic to suppose that the two-tier employment system, and the funding patterns which have evolved over decades to support it, can be fully transformed in a shorter time span than 20 years.

4.B While nothing prevents accomplishing goals ahead of the incremental timeline proposed herein, real change cannot and will not come spontaneously, since even the most benign proposals could likely encounter resistance from those asked to relinquish control that has been assumed for several decades. We strive in this Program for a realistic framework for change that is coupled with a timeline so that progress is attainable and visibly part of a continuum of action, all leading to an ultimate goal, normalization.  By 2030, it will seem obvious that it was the right thing to do.

4.C  In proposing this Program, we do not imagine that the New Faculty Majority would by itself have the capacity to effect such transformative changes.  However, NFM can be a force in keeping the issue at the forefront of local and national conversations about the future of higher education.  It can communicate the collective voice of those who are demanding change and provide resources to support those working for change. It can challenge those who do have the mandate and wherewithal to fight for change— including faculty unions and other associations of faculty—to commit to achieving as many of these reasonable goals as they can and as soon as they can.  It can encourage the commitment of progressive administrations, accreditation and state oversight agencies, legislators, and government at both the state and national level.  We imagine that NFM would join with others in celebrating accomplishment of specific goals and milestones, but that it would not be NFM’s mission to be the accuser of failure  nor to be the sole judge of progress.  Stakeholders will have to be accountable to their own mission: achieving a just and equitable workplace committed to providing students with the highest possible quality of education.

4.D It bears repeating that the Program is not meant to be prescriptive or proscriptive and that we could not imagine seriously presenting the Program in its entirety for immediate adoption anywhere.  Nevertheless, it provides both a detailed action plan on over thirty aspects of employment and it provides a holistic vision of what an equitable workplace would look like.  Future generations of faculty should not have to endure the unfairness of the current system.  The faculty workplace has to become more normal.  That is why we feel a sense of urgency; and again to repeat, because it may take a generation to transform the dysfunctional current system, it’s vital that the process start now.    If at some local workplace it was determined that only one aspect, say evaluation, could be effectively worked on, progress on even that one aspect would greatly improve the worklife of the faculty affected.

5. Overview of Program

5.A To the greatest extent possible, the Program relies on ending the distinctions between full-time and part-time employment and the resulting discrimination from those distinctions.  Distinctions may remain.  They should only be dictated by the nature of different duties and disciplines, not simply because one happens to be full-time or part-time.  The program would extend enforceable protections of academic freedom to all faculty.  It would restrict probationary status to a reasonably short period, with increasing job security through the probationary period into one’s career.  A key point is the conversion in status of the person without further job interviews and competitions.  Achieving salary equity would mean delinking tenure from salary considerations.

5.B We believe that teachers and scholars, reunited into a single community, are the last best hope to restore integrity and public confidence to system of higher education deeply threatened by decades of corporate-style mismanagement.  The moral and political compass of our movement should guide our day-to-day efforts toward a common end for the next generation and those to follow: the normalization of the academic profession and the abolition of the multi-tiered labor system.

6. Specifics

6.A The following table lays out the Program for Change and is segmented into four parts: no-cost, cost, union and association rights, and legislative changes.  The first two are relative to employers, while the third address unions and faculty groups that are non-union.  The table is structured in five-year increments.

7. Conclusion

7.A  Those who claim that this vision of a future U.S. higher education workplace is too idealistic to offer any hope of ever being realized need only consider the colleges and universities of British Columbia which are under the aegis of the British Columbia Federation of Post-secondary Educators (FPSE).  The faculty unions of FPSE have attained collective agreements where faculty, regular and non-regular, full-time or part-time, are compensated according to a single salary schedule; newly hired probationary faculty, after teaching for a prescribed length of time, become regularized or normalized, with job security based largely on seniority.  For its new universities, FPSE is adopting the policy of delinking tenure from salary.  Whether ultimately successful or not, the current situation cannot go unchallenged. It is not acceptable for the majority of those who deliver U.S. higher education to be without job security and academic freedom, to receive pay that is not commensurate with their academic and professional training nor the effective set of responsibilities they execute, and to be denied the professional dignity that is warranted by their station as educators.

7.B  The next generation of faculty should see real change and the generation after it should see this discriminatory period as a thing of the past.  Whether we as individuals personally stand to benefit or not, it is long past time for a critical mass to commit to ending this situation and through collective action to do what is necessary to start progress down the road for change to restore normalcy and equity to the post-secondary workplace.

Authored by Jack Longmate & Frank Cosco

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37 Responses to “Program for Change: 2010-2030″ (A Proposal for Discussion)

  1. Don Jenner says:

    Interesting document, but finally, I think, not a very ground-breaking one. E.g. it plays to the Establishment: (1) There are no full-time instructional staff in any university or college anywhere in the world. Most stipendiary instructional staff actually work about 20-30 hours a week, 30 weeks a year; such “research” as most of ‘em do aims at producing resumé-enhancing conference papers of specious merit. Equality included dropping the distinction between stipendiary instructional staff and hourly-wage instructional staff. (2) Tenure is a crummy idea. Ornaments to the Academy do not need it; Saul Kripke would never want for a chair. Those who do need it probably should be kept at risk, to keep them edgy. Promising no attack on tenure plays to the fears of the Academically maladroit. (3) There are very good reasons for a “corporatized” educational system to foster, even coddle the hourly-wage instructional staff, both those who are doing this as their main form of gainful employment, and those who teach the odd class or two from time to time, and even to regularize their lot. The difficulty is, most of the people who run universities and colleges are poorly trained and equipped to be managers of any sort. They are, as a group, racist, sexist and generally ignorant of the larger reality off their own patch. They are intellectually bankrupt and spiritually corrupt. Instead of this somewhat defensive document, I wonder why one doesn’t develop an aggressive do-the-job-right document.

  2. Chessie Green says:

    While the Program does seem tame, we’d be better off if its goals were realized. So thank you, NFM, for initiating this work. I’ll offer a few thoughts. I can see right now how a parsimonious administration would find a way to replace you just before the probation period. There are so many ways to do that, such as faking curriculum reorganizations or eliminating courses and then reinstating them later with new, cheaper faculty. We see that manipulation in the non-university world all the time. So I also like the idea of a do-the-job-right document for administrators (as recommended by Don, the previous poster), because it could attempt to articulate the most effective ways to have a strong part-time faculty and market that as a competitive advantage.

    Then, out here in the world of universities, there are the meaningless fine distinctions when it comes to “practitioner” faculty. We are presumably desired because we have long and successful practical experience in our subject and maybe even some positive name recognition in our field. And, we have developed some teaching skills. Yet I’ve witnessed how teaching fees are based on some idea that an MBA or law degree deserve a higher compensation rate than any other advanced degree, even if an MBA or law degree are not required for the subject. Factoring in seniority will still perpetuate the initial, meaningless differential.

    I have no ideas how to remedy this, but I do think time spent counseling students, updating syllabi, developing new courses (on request), using one’s own equipment for on-line courses, and other such legitimate activities should be compensated. Well-endowed private universities will offer something for course development, but (in my experience) only after a direct inquiry and, even then, with reluctance. Maybe there could be a formula that describes an add-on to the teaching fee as covering these things.

    As the Program notes, being eligible to tap into professional development funds would be most welcomed. Institutional memberships in professional associations (that is, memberships paid for by the university and not the individual faculty member) ought to benefit the part-timers as well. As it is, I use diplomacy to get the university’s user names and passwords so that I can participate in professional development that way. But I have no articulated “right” to that in my contract.

    Thanks again for this work.

  3. Hello Don and Chessie, thank you for your comments and a late good morning from NM. I’m on the NFM, membership chair and social media person by default. I reminded myself over morning coffee to add the comment feed to my rss reader and will remind my NFM Board colleagues to do likewise. Until them, a personal response.

    We want change, not the grand gesture of shooting ourselves in the collective foot, going out in a blaze of symbolic but ultimately useless glory. The idea, stated clearly in the letter to members and adapted the for the About page, is to convene a discussion and suggest interim steps.

    The preliminary plan, drafted by Jack Longmate and Frank Cosco, is modeled on the Canadian model and not intended to be ground breaking or revolutionary. We’ll settle for “do-able,” thank you. An opening wedge. Personally, I’ll settle for something my own druthers can live with temporarily and plan to come back another time for more. I fervently hope revisions will address the growing community of online adjuncts, invisible even among the invisibles, who, for the most part, have it worse and are more vulnerable than their bricks and mortar counterparts.

    I too like Don’s suggestion for a “do-the-job-right document for administrators” and expect the rest of the board will as well. Maybe one for tenured faculty too ~ both including provisions for “fair use” of “disposable people” ~ adjunct and contingent faculty, non-tenured educational and research support personnel such as librarians, researchers, technicians.

  4. David Wilder says:

    Thanks to those who worked on this. It is a constructive contribution to a discussion.
    I am in agreement with most all of the goals outlined, however, I agree with the comment posted that it is overly defensive. I also believe that we should not be making any proposals for probationary periods, since that job will definitely be taken up by those who don’t have our best interests at heart.

    The main objection I have, which I think is a fundamental one, is that I don’t think we are aided by the concept of a timeline and incremental steps. Absolutely no one has a crystal ball, or magic calculator to determine that such and such should take x years to accomplish. There is only one determining factor for whether we have victories in one month, one year, a decade, or ever. That is, how are we going to set about to assemble the army to accomplish these worthwhile goals? If we are, as our name implies, the MAJORITY, then we should have a great deal of confidence. The most important question, even ahead of dotting i’s and crossing t’s of a program is how are we to MOBILIZE this majority? Even the projection of an imagined timeline seems to be symptomatic of a view that hasn’t given due consideration of this all-determining matter. For myself, I don’t need a polished program to put my stakes in with the NFM. I want to do it because I’m simply sick and tired of being exploited. I don’t believe that my feelings are unique. We should be looking for the hundreds and thousands that are sick and tired, but who will be convinced that there is one thing that matters for change: to build our army.
    On a concrete issue that relates to the above, and I do not mean to cast aspersions on anyone’s efforts so far, but the Facebook page where I get all my information about NFM lists 197 friends. That’s a little bit more than I have on FB personally and, I would wager, only a fraction of what a typical teenager has. What are we going to do about this?

    • David ~

      I’d like to see more web 2.0 and social network activity too ~ especially from other board members. That’s why I took so long to comment: I posted a request for them to come by, post comments, respond to comments. I think a few came by none stopped to visit. Most are digital immigrants, still learning the folkways and shy about “speaking” the language in front of those perceived as being more fluent, although they will post comment to online version of print media. Blogs and social media don’t have the same weight of authority as print media.

      Your comments do tell me to be more active on Facebook. Mostly I have been using Facebook as a convenient one stop portal for blog posts and twitter auto posted via rss feed.

      I also need to get my NFM colleagues into social media and out there blogging, tweeting, texting, posting about NFM programs and projects on Facebook. It’s too much for just one person.

      Any tips?

      • David Wilder says:

        I think Facebook, twitter, websites, etc., are wonderful and indispensable tools. The problem is they are all passive; we wait for people to come to us. We need to have actions to reach out to perspective activists. We should leaflet, stuff adjunct mailboxes. We need to build local meetings to discuss further activity. We need active, voting members. I don’t know of online methods for having a fair, credible, and timely vote.

        • Push vs pull … we need to do both. Ditto virtual and IRL. The former is no more than another medium for talking heads until it translates into action at the grassroots, or rather perhaps, capillary level. The technology for electronic voting is there but, as you suggest, not yet come of age, and we’re not ready to use whatever means are available.

  5. Maureen Basedow says:

    I am not sure any of this will warrant the average college admin’s attention without a grand gesture. The history of labor relations in the USA is not one of watchful waiting, sensitive time scales and helpful suggestions. There is currently no reason whatsoever for the admin to talk to NFM, or any individual contingent laborer, at all – an issue none of this very nobel document deals with in the least. Why not start by organizing something as simple as a national Academic Contingent Labor Adjunct Awareness Day? We can all pass out handbills to admin, students and staff describing our situation (collectively and individually), which many will find embarrassing, or even shocking, and which a few others will indeed see as subversive. Press coverage would follow. Even here in Ohio, this doesn’t count as (illegal) labor organization by part-timers, and every little bit of bringing the situation to a broader consciousness helps.

  6. Jack Longmate says:

    This is Jack Longmate writing in response to Don Jenner’s comment of 13 August 2010:

    1. I think the impression that the the document is not very ground breaking by playing to the establishment reflects a hasty or incomplete reading. Unlike the predominate approaches that have usually been offered that purport to “solve” the problem of contingency by minimizing it by establishing goals that 75 percent of courses will be taught by tenure/tenure track and only 25 by non-tenure track (which, I believe, was first attempted as early as 1988 by California AB 1725), the Program for Change aims to transform the situation of non-tenure track into non-probationary, normal employment status, with job protection provisions based largely on seniority as they are under the regularization system of British Columbia.
    2. About tenure, I’d argue that tenure is great idea for protecting academic freedom and job security. I do have some apprehensions about advocating it as a singular goal for the contingent faculty because the dim likelihood of its implementation on a wide scale to be imminent. Don and Susan at the University of Colorado have worked hard to overcome local objections, though, as I understand it, there may be future fights before it becomes a reality in the Colorado legislature. But once there is tenure in place for some contingents, then I would think that tenure certainly would become be more accessible as a goal. In the meantime, a system similar to that in place at Vancouver Community College, would seem to be a workable, practical means for bringing about job security for the non-tenured on a widespread scale and an important first step in dismantling the two-tiered system and creating one faculty.

    Sincerely yours,

    Jack Longmate (jacklongmate@comcast.net)

  7. Jack Longmate says:

    This is Jack Longmate writing in response to Chessie Green’s comment of 13 August 2010:

    1. To Chessie Green’s concern that “a parsimonious administration would find a way to replace you just before the probation period,” a factor that would tend to minimize that possible scenario is the fact that it would be systemic and grievable. If an administration were to systematically getting rid of contingent faculty just at the point when they would become normalized, they would have a hard time defending themselves in every case. I don’t know if or how often this happens in British Columbia as contingent are about to become regularized there. Some tenure track faculty don’t make tenure. But having a defined system is infinitely more protection than the easy come, easy go approach to contingent faculty hiring/rehiring.

    2. About a do-the-job-right document for administrators, one thing to recognize is that there are competing, conflicting goals between administrations and faculty. Administrators may very well think they are doing it right by hiring armies of inexpensive contingents. Whether they think they’re right or not, administrators don’t have the interests of the teaching faculty at heart. And that is a chief reason why the New Faculty Majority, along with the faculty unions and other faculty associations, has a role in providing guidance for a pushback, because unopposed, the administration will have their way.

    3. It would be great for contingents to be “eligible to tap into professional development funds.” If professional development is considered important enough for tenured faculty, it is equally important for non-tenured faculty, especially as we contingents teach about half of all classes. Contingents should be treated equally in every way; it is not fair that contingents are rarely involved and sometimes deliberately excluded from campus governance and department meetings. Generally it is only tenured faculty who are provided private offices that conform to state ergonomic requirements and supported by the institution’s IT department, while contingent faculty are expected to either use state equipment in shared space or use their own home equipment and office space.

    Sincerely yours,

    Jack Longmate (jacklongmate@comcast.net)

    • lost in the boonies says:

      Jack, it happens. None but the victims notice what happens out here in the boonies. Or much care what it says about institutional character.

  8. Jack Longmate says:

    This is Jack Longmate writing in response to David Wilder’s comment of 18 August 2010:

    1. David writes that “I don’t think we are aided by the concept of a timeline and incremental steps.” Certainly affixing a date to a milestone, in and of itself, does not make that milestone closer to being implemented. However, establish a date, along with a sequence of related and naturally sequential things does impose a sense of coherence that is otherwise lacking. In fact, the movement can be characterized as rudderless and frantic. The timeline and milestones will hopefully will serve as a stake in the sand according to which to measure progress from this point on. And when there is progress along any of the 30+ objectives, those should be celebrated. They include such seemingly simple things as instituting an fair and transparent evaluation system–this would be a significant step forward, or establishing a seniority system. That too, which should require little in the way of expenditure, would set the groundwork for job security system.

    I remember a dialogue I had with a colleague at COCAL in 2004. We both had been involved for several years, and we both wondered if the time we’d devoted to activism was doing any good. We both had the feeling that we and the movement were floundering. Discrete goals with timelines can help provide direction, and, of course, they would have to be assessed as time goes on.

    2. The point about us contingent faculty being the majority should be a source of some encouragement. Also, from a statement made at a plenary session at COCAL in Quebec City, we now actually do the majority of teaching in U.S. higher ed. However, we are not a powerful majority in the governing associations, such as faculty senates, unions, are oftentimes when our needs are mentioned, they are incidentals. And while we may be the majority, we are not organized and we don’t know each other. If progress is to be made, then individual contingents need to become involved in it. NFM must join forces with others to encouarge individuals to fight for changes at their institutions.

    Sincerely yours,

    Jack Longmate (jacklongmate@comcast.net)

  9. Jack Longmate says:

    This is Jack Longmate writing in response to Maureen Basedow’s comment of 23 August 2010:

    About a “grand gesture,” Campus Equity Week/Fair Employment Week, in place since 2001, is observed during the last week of October in the odd years (2007, 2009, 2011, etc.) and is intended to be exactly that. The need to invigorate Campus Equity Week came up at COCAL. Auturo Perez from Mexico City proposed recognizing it.

    There certainly is a need for that–very rarely in the treatment of U.S. Higher Education is contingency status of the majority of its faculty mentioned, much less recognized as a serious issue affecting the wellbeing of the country.

    Sincerely yours,

    Jack Longmate (jacklongmate@comcast.net)

    • lost in the boonies says:

      Jack and Maureen ~ just wondering about grand gestures. What do you think would be advantages / disadvantages of just one highly focused day over a whole week?

      Jack, why is Equity Week every other year and not every year? I’m involved in local event organizing and learned the hard way years ago that an every other year event just doesn’t build a body of regular followers the same way every-year-on-the-same-day (date or day of the year, i.e. 3rd Wednesday in April)

      • Jack Longmate says:

        From the outset of Campus Equity Week/Fair Employment Week, at COCAL in San Jose in early 2001, the thinking was that it would alternate with COCAL conferences, COCAL taking place on the even years with CEW on the odd years.

        At my campus, we’ve observed CEW, doing things like circulating an “equal pay for equal work petition” (with 500 signatures that we sent to the governor), a concert with labor speakers, a dance, but what has caught on so nicely that we now do every year is a legislative forum to which we invite the legislators from the three legislative districts in which our college operates. Those legislators seem to enjoy coming, having a chance to speak, and learning more about the college’s needs. It is also an excellent way to develop rapport with those legislators.

        The traditional schedule for CEW is the last week of October–though that may or may not be the best time. This tends to coincide with Halloween and, if observed annually, falls very close to elections in the even years (in years like this one, we schedule the legislative form on our campuse in mid-November after the elections and invite those who have been elected rather than all those vying for voters.) Bob Samuels of UCLA has organized events on April 1.

        The idea of a day or week of action to call attention to the lack of equity in the academic workplace came up at COCAL. Arturo Perez from UNAM in Mexico City reintroduced the idea. It would be a more newsworthy if there were a coordinated event across most campuses of North America.

        In my impression, Campus Equity Week started out much stronger than it has been in recent years. There was an dynamic excellent Campus Equity Week website that was brimming with notices and reports of events.

        Best wishes,


  10. This is Vanessa (obviously) writing in response to ALL of Jack’s comments. THANK YOU!!

    BTW posters one and all, various and sundry: you can reply to specific messages by clicking the reply link beneath that particular message.


  11. Doug Harvey says:

    Sorry I’m a little behind the curve on this discussion — but I thought Maureen’s idea of a national Contingent / Adjunct Faculty Day is a great idea. There needs to be some critical mass point where we can achieve escape velocity from this pseudo-sweatshop environment. The document, incidentally, is very well done and thanks for putting this together — I think we need to think in terms of confrontation, however. Power doesn’t concede anything, (was it Frederick Douglass?), without a demand.

  12. eli t says:

    hi there,

    Very interesting project; I’ll be curious to see where it ends up. Just two minor nitpicks about this website:
    1) Many of the posts are positively overloaded with spam in the comments, which looks quite ugly. There are easy ways of addressing this technically in wordpress, which I strongly recommend.
    2) It might be good to fix the spelling of ‘convene’ in the title?

    all the best, eli

  13. Pingback: Evolution or Revolution | writinginthewild.com

  14. Jack Longmate says:

    I’m gratified that Ray has a sense of the historical significance that the Program for Change could be.

    I share his impression. In an e-mail that I sent on March 5, 2010 to Frank Cosco, who authored the first draft, I said, “It is possible that at some point in the future, people reflecting on the history of the contingent movement will note that the original formulation of the plan to reform higher education was sent from Vancouver late on a Friday evening less than a week after the Olympics ended in that city. “

  15. Trota Campos says:

    I just got an announcement for the Counter Conference in LA same time as MLA but at Loyola Law School. Will the Program for Change be discussed there?

  16. @Trota Campos ~ I don’t see it on the program but several NFM board members are on panels. I’ll ask and get back to you. Of course, anyone can bring it up either as post-panel Q or in open discussion at the end. If you are there, please do so.

    @WF ~ SPAM, the Monty Python Flying Circus version … please explain what WikiLeaks has to do with Program for Change?

  17. Greg Hodes says:


    “The Program for Change” analyzes the situation correctly, and its proposed remedy is sound well thought out. I have three suggestions

    (1) It is essential that activist in each institution (state) also present a detailed plan for funding the “cost” parts of proposal. We will certainly be told that there is, and will be, be no money for them. Absent reference to a specific, professionally worked out fund-ing plan, such demands merely become “negotiation stoppers.” If we leave the creat-ion of a funding plan up to the institutions, none will be forthcoming, and it will be impossible to discuss specific means of finding the money. With such a plan on the table, the responsibility for showing just why it won’t work falls on those who reject it.

    (2) It would be very imprudent to count on good will from the institutions. We should be “counting our guns,” and it should be known that we are. Specifically, it is essential to do the research necessary to answer the question, “What would happen of all adjuncts stayed home?” (We may be quite certain administrators and politicans have considered tbis contingency. ) It is important to know how many qualified people who are not now employed as adjuncts (at least off and on) would be available to fill in (i.e., are potential “scabs”). The smaller this reserve, the stronger our position. It should be possible to get a fair estimate, at least of the number of unemployed or underemployed people with the academic qualifications and some exper-ience. It’s not at all necessary to bring any of this explicitly into negotiations; the people on the other side of the table will get the message.

    (3) I agree that details of negotiations are best left to be worked out at the local level; but it is crucial to build as much solidarity as possible and make our demands at roughly the same time if we are to raise public consciousness and make best use of our numbers and nationwide role. We the post-secondary education system. With-out us, everything comes to halt, at least for an inconviently longish while..


  18. Trota Campos says:

    #1 funding plans are important but there is no one-size fits all, most especially not with any degree of specificity.

    This hasn’t been updated in some time. I wonder if there are updates, more figures. I’d like to see a flexible how-to plan – more like suggestions – for adopting points. Crumbs maybe but enough gets us closer to that proverbial half a loaf. A handful or well publicized early adopters would encourage others.

    #2 “stay out” sounds like a grassroots sickout aka unofficial general strikc, not that I am agin’ afflicting the comfortable, but how would you coordinate it on a large scale? Go too underground and you miss getting your message out to anyone topside. What would be specific goal? Terms, conditions? Or just to get their attention?

  19. Vanessa says:

    @ Trota Campos, in two parts … oops for not getting back to you. Past due but no, P4C did not come up at the 2011 counter conference, which in my personal opinion, was limited in its adjunct/contingent faculty orientation and, in retrospect, a test drive for “Campaign Future of Higher Education.”

    And yes ~ to both Trota Campos and Greg ~ there are updates, new material, charts that should have be added here or to the New Faculty Majority main page. I put in a request to put it on the blog or somewhere shareable until then.

    In the meantime, Greg, what are your ideas for funding plans and localizing P4C? My thoughts, in the current funding climate, would be to look for the most affordable and ones that we could point to as clearly improving teaching as student outcomes. Those may not be the same everywhere, which is why we need more input and discussion

  20. The program for change sounds reasonable to me and the discussion is interesting. What is lacking in all, it seems to me, is any idea of what to do now to effectuate ANY program. There are several unions in the educational field devoted to action on behalf of teachers. Why not get in there and use your democratic rights to campaign for your program, whatever it may best be? Herman Benson, Association for Union Democracy

    • Vanessa says:

      Good point, but I think you need a program, preferably well formulated, before you can “effectuate” one. This one is still a work in progress. According to the note at the top of the page, this is all part of “convening a discussion.” I’d rather that than be told, “Here is the program: take it or leave it. We know best.”

      What about adjuncts in states where there is no union program for them? State with right to work laws and those where it is illegal for adjuncts to organize? Tell them “tough luck, not our problem”?

  21. Trota Campos says:

    What would you do? What programs? Tell me more, with links please

  22. Jack Longmate says:

    This is in response to Herman Benson’s comment of 2 July 2011, where he points out that the Program for Change may not explain “what to do now to effectuate ANY program.”

    This question was raised in the early discussions among New Faculty Majority, and two things: We of the New Faculty Majority are powerless to effect change; NFM is not a union but a collection of activists. If change is going to happen, it must be embraced by those who are in a position to effect change, such as faculty unions in those states where they exists, and activists of the contingent faculty movement.

    Secondly, the majority of the items listed involve either no cost or nominal one-time cost, and thus there’s obstacle to stop immediate implementation. One goal that I think warrants widespread and universal adoption is a seniority system for contingent faculty–it would cost nothing to establish one, yet seniority systems for adjuncts in the United States are so rare–I understand that Foothills-DeAnza in Cupertino, CA, has one that’s worth looking at, but Vancouver Community College’s is an excellent one to shoot for. It’s listing is public at http://www.vccfa.ca/faqs/seniority.html.

    Another low cost or no-cost measure that would be of great benefit would be establishment of a transparent and formalized evaluation system. Far too often, adjuncts are victims of an arbritrary, ad hoc system, whereby evaluators may be self-selected tenure faculty who may possibly have an agenda and, especially if the evaluation consists of a mere snapshot visit to a single class, can present a biased and unfair picture. Evaluations are important for many reasons and should be conducted according to a transparent and formalized system, and it does not necessarily cost to establish one.

    I wrote implementatinon of ideas from the Program for Change in the newsletter of TESOL’s Fair Employment Forum Newsletter this past spring. TESOL is a professional association of ESL teachers and the newsletter is at (at “http://karen.stanley.people.cpcc.edu/Docs%20for%20FFE%20page/newsletters/FFENewsletterSpring2011.pdf). To quote a portion of that column:
    “It many places, it is not possible to form or join a union. But there are still essential things that can be done by individual teachers that can promote fair employment conditions whether they are unionized or not. Those strategies are itemized in the Program for Change: 2010-2030, which is intended as a road map for U.S. higher education to overturn the stifling domination of a two-tiered tenured vs. non-tenured system. While the most commonly used excuse to reject ideas for improvement in the teaching workplace is a lack of funds, the strategies listed in the Program for Change are segregated as being (a) no-cost or very low one-time costs, (b) costs, (c) union/association actions, and (d) legislative action. If any one of the goals were enacted, it would bring improvement to the quality of teaching and the professional lives of the teachers affected. A version of the Program for Change: 2010-2030 is viewable at http://newfacultymajority.info/PfC/.

    “An example would be teacher evaluations. Often classroom evaluation visits are carried out in an ad hoc manner with an administrator dropping in, sometimes announced. The outcome may be a superficial assessment based on shapshot impressions of the activities observed.

    “Management consultant Samuel Culbert in his book Get Rid of the Performance Review (2010) makes a case that has applicability to the ESL classroom. Culbert condemns the standard “performance review,” where a supervisor meets with a subordinate and discusses general performance. The subordinate, anxious to remain in good standing with the boss, willingly complies with the recommendations made in his/her quest to be good employee. But missing from this structure is an honest discussion of what is really happening in the classroom. When teachers find themselves having trouble in being as effective as they know they can be, they are rarely inclined to bring up these issues with their supervisor, perhaps feeling that their supervisor is the last person who they would like to know about the problem.
    Evaluations should proceed according to a regularized and scheduled system so that all players understand. The Program for Change distinguishes between summative and formative evaluations, the former being a judgment on whether the individual should remain in his/her job and the latter being feedback intended to help the instructor teach. Oftentimes in many institutions, no distinction is made, which causes unnecessary resistance and consternation in the workplace.

    “ESL teachers, whether in a unionized setting or not, whether as part of an independent faculty association or not, could take up the initiative to develop their own evaluation system to provide formative feedback. This can be done by simply arranging to visit each other’s classrooms and then privately sharing impressions, recommendations, and options. In order to work, this does require a level of trust and instructors who see each other as colleagues and not competitors. But all performers stand to benefit from feedback; it is a way to improve the effectiveness of teaching. If teachers themselves instituted a procedure whereby meaningful suggestions could be offered to help teaching, management could very well realize that it is squarely in its best interest to support this initiative. It could decide to waive the need for traditional punitive instructor evaluation reviews, on the ground that they are necessarily snapshots and seldom touch on the essence of an individual teacher’s performance.”
    Jack Longmate (jacklongmate@comcast.net)

  23. Chessie Green says:

    Great work, everyone. A couple of new thoughts. In the Plan 5.A, there is a call for ending the distinctions between full-time and part-time employment. I’ve found that sometimes there’s a distinction between contingent faculty and those who are part-time. At my university, part-time means you have permanent employment, and your pay is pro-rated for part-time according to the kind of single salary schedule that we call for in the Plan. That’s not the case for contingent faculty who are paid for piece-work when there is piece-work. Then, regarding the discussion about establishing a transparent and formalized evaluation system: In the universities where I’ve taught, evaluations are solely based on student ratings. But point well taken: if your ratings are too high, sometimes full-timers find that threatening.

  24. Jack Longmate says:

    This is a reply to Chessie Green.

    The point of paragraph 5A was to oppose the “distinctions” or fragmentation of higher ed faculty; it’s the opposite of the “divide and conquer” ethic that is commonplace in higher education. Those distinctions are reinforced by the two-tier faculty apartheid but can be minimized by a baseline of common workplace rights for all faculty. Paragraph 5B says that this solidarity is “the last best hope to restore integrity and public confidence to system of higher education…”

    About evaluations, non-tenured faculty should encourage them. Everyone stands to gain from feedback. The absence of evaluations helps to sustain the myth that non-tenured faculty are inferior faculty. But it’s important that an evaluation system be formal and transparent and structured, ideally used to evaluate both tenured and non-tenured faculty. There should be safeguards so that evaluations are above board and objective in nature and, so far as is possible, free of personal bias. To be meaningful, evaluations should consist of more than a single cold visit with snapshot observations.

    Best wishes,

    Jack Longmate

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