Friday, June 8, 2012

Jack Longmate on Reich, fairness, adjunct work & the economy

 With great pleasure, we welcome a guest post from New Faculty Majority Board Member and long time contingent faculty activist, Jack Longmate (shown left at TESOL 2009), who writes...

Robert Reich's June 6 post [and June 3 SF Gate column], entitled "Fairness is crucial to economic growth," makes a point that I remember Terry Knudsen of Spokane making at a legislative hearing in Olympia several years ago about improving the pay for adjunct faculty

Reich writes, 

"The only way the economy can grow and create more jobs is if prosperity is more widely shared... You want to know the real reason the economy crashed in 2008 and why recovery has been so anemic?  Because so much of the nation's income and wealth have become concentrated at the top that America's vast middle class doesn't have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going."  
Clearly when adjunct faculty are provided poverty-level income and when they have no job security, they are hardly in a position to be be they kind of consumers who would revive the economy.  

But certainly the mentality that has led to the substandard working conditions of many non-tenured faculty--never mind fairness and equity: if we can sucker people into taking a bunch of part-time, temporary jobs, with lousy pay, working conditions, no offices or professional development (because let's say we don't consider them professionals) and spotty benefits on a permanent basis, let's go for it--seems to be a dominate perspective.  

As others have noted, even though non-tenured faculty are poorly organized--we rarely know each other at our own institutions--at least we have a dialog and forums, like COCAL, which may be more than others who are likewise the brunt of this workplace mentality, like service industry workers. 

When the former U.S. Secretary of Labor makes this point, there should be the potential for traction in public policy thinking.

Best wishes, Jack Longmate

Jack (shown makes a point about how our working conditions, hardly unique to contingent faculty, should take a prominent position in public policy for broader economy as well as for our own sake. We already knew that we matter to higher education ~ run the numbers, we do most of the teaching ~ but also, along with legions of other struggling, precarious workers, crucial to economic recovery. In addition to Reich stating that fairness is essential to growth and the only way for the economy to grow and create more jobs, remember too the recent "banned" TED talk by millionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer (Seattle too!) on income inequality and telling us that rich people don't create jobs.

The above post appears as submitted by Jack Longmate, adjunct at Olympic College, originally posted on Adj-l Contingents Academic Mailing ListThis is not his first appearance here as poster or topic. Most recently, we covered the Green River Community College adjunct workshop and teach-in with Jack, Frank Cosco and Keith Hoeller, three tireless contingent faculty superheroes. The Seattle recently published Jack's and Keith's op-ed, "Anxious students, invisible faculty." Jack and Frank also authored the New Faculty Majority's Program for Change

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