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58027Re: College professors making minimum wage?

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  • Arjun Janah
    Aug 5, 2014


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Arjun Janah <sjanah@...>
      To:
      Cc:
      Sent: Tue, Aug 5, 2014 1:02 pm
      Subject: Re: College professors making minimum wage?

      Dear P,

      Thanks for this. I read the full petition. But the apparent link at the end to sign it did not work.

      So I went to http://change.org and searched there for "college professors". On the third page of the search results, I found the petition, and signed it, allowing change.org to contact my Facebook friends.  Here is the link:

      http://www.change.org/petitions/david-weil-dir-wage-and-hour-div-u-s-dept-of-labor-open-an-investigation-into-the-labor-practices-of-our-colleges-and-universities-in-the-employment-of-contingent-faculty

      (There is an option you can check or not for this - which is an improvement, as change.org used to not have the opt-out option, which had stopped me from signing earlier petitions which I did not want to bother others I knew with.)

      I noticed several other petitions of a similar nature on change.org. So this is a widespread problem.

      This has been ongoing for many decades -- including from when I taught at universities -- but has,
      it appears. gotten worse.   It is part of the ongoing trend towards squeezing and exploiting workers, including creating divisions among them, while enriching, primarily, the "owners" and, secondarily, the managerial layers, in particular, the highly paid "chief executives". 

      This is why we need unions, among other things, and not just "collaborative" unions (and union members) who accept such inequities, with
      each person basically  being for him/herself, protecting only his/her own narrow personal interests or the narrow interests of his/her particular division of workers -- such as, in this case, that of tenured faculty.

      Unions also made the mistake, in the past, following the elimination of their more "radical" wings during the "red scare" years in this country, of focusing only on the pay and benefits of their members -- and, increasingly, as we see in the colleges and even in the schools, of a certain class of members. This creates divisions, firstly, between the union members and the public, secondarily, between unions and thirdly between members of the same union.

      Some would go further and say that many of our unions have degenerated into tools of the (private or, nominally, public) owners of the institutions for which they work, with the union leadership and those with paid jobs with the union working primarily in their own self-interest, with great detriment to the true interests of the workers they are supposed to represent.  No doubt, this is also true, to varying degrees.

      Whatever is left of unionized labor in this country, much of it in the public sector (which only got unionized late, and had lagged behind private sector jobs in wages until recently) is paying a heavy price for the first division, as the public turns against them all over the country and votes in Republican (or Democrat-in-name but otherwise Republican-lite on economic issues) state executives and legislatures that reverse many of the advances that labor had made through hard struggle in past decades.

      The exploitation of nontenured Ph.D's and other scholars in this country has reached a point where, unless there are vocal nationwide organizations created by them to advance their cause, and unless they find powerful allies, this injustice will only get worse.

      Turning from colleges to schools, I should mention that even tenured school-teachers who are sincere often find that they are working almost double their nominal working hours, in prep and grading work, during afternoons, evenings, weekends, holidays....

      As the student load has been increased in a number of ways, and the student deficiencies had not eased -- even increased, while the pressures posed by standardized exams had been rising, the load on sincere teachers had already become nearly impossible to bear without neglect of family and personal duties, as well as consequences to physical and mental health. With the unreasonable and punitive teacher-evaluation systems now being put in place, I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel.

      President Obama has been calling for evaluations of colleges and universities to rate their performance, so students can know whether they are getting,
      in his words,  their "bang for their buck". With college tuition soaring, this seems reasonable.

      However, as with the administration's handling of the public schools, where Federal aid was tied to expansion of charters and to highly flawed "teacher evaluation" systems, with Obama even publicly praising Michelle Rhee of D.C. and Bloomberg-Klein of NY City, I fear that what is left of quality education in the U.S. will be the victim, even as the blame and pressure falls squarely on the heads of the professors, especially the adjuncts who do most of the teaching.

      One should look, instead, as to the reasons why college tuition has been rising to unreasonable levels, even while the majority of the people who deliver college education are being paid unreasonably low wages (especially when computed by hours of work put in -- and not just in the lecture hall).  This majority is being forced to work impossibly hard, while denied the usual benefits (including pensions) that should come with full-time, or even part-time, work.

      http://www.change.org/petitions/david-weil-dir-wage-and-hour-div-u-s-dept-of-labor-open-an-investigation-into-the-labor-practices-of-our-colleges-and-universities-in-the-employment-of-contingent-faculty

      I will forward this to (school) teacher listservs and others here in NY City and elsewhere, after deleting your and others' e-mail addresses.  Thanks again.

      Arjun (Janah)