Well my “couple week break” in May 2009 turned into almost two years! During the last few years I finished my master’s in Women And Gender Studies, taught Western Civ (!!) for a year at GTCC (the local community college). Last semester I taught Intro to Women and Gender Studies at UNCG and two sections of World Civ II at GTCC. This semester I’m doing the same except World Civ I, plus a UNCG first-year seminar called “Shaking Things Up: Southern Movements for Social Justice.” I love my students! Though I hate grading. But as busy at it keeps me, I’m gradually finding balance and Fall will be my first semester when ‘ll be teaching all classes I’ve taught before. I’m really looking forward to that!
Whew! Its been a super busy crazy couple of years with lots of life transitions, and exciting and painful learning and growth. Even though I’m not sure I want to adjunct forever, I’m feeling more settled about issues of vocation than I was when I started the blog. I feel more comfortable letting things unfold and letting go of finding some “perfect” thing to do.
That said, issues of honest living are on my mind right now because of all the intense pressure on public employees, particularly teachers. As an adjunct employed part-time at two state-funded institutions, its sometimes easy to feel like I’m not really part of those institutions, not really a public employee. But I (we) am (are)! And while the 9.5% reduction just announced for the UNC system means my situation is even more precarious, it also may mean that under-paid part-time adjuncts like myself are used to “plug the holes” when they cut full-time positions.
This has all made me think about the position of adjuncts as public employees. We are (I believe) exploited by the institution. But are we also in a way scabs? In a lot of ways I enjoy the autonomy and lack of accountability required of me by part-time work, though not the pay and lack of benefits. But as budgets get worse and worse, the lack of accountability of the institution to me as an adjunct – and increasingly to all public emplyees – really worries me.
Here’s an interesting link to the Union of Part-Time Faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit. I first heard about them because they did a workshop at the US Social Forum in Detroit (I wasn’t able to go but looked them up later).
There’s also an amazing new NC “Labor, Faith and Civil Rights Coalition in Defense of the Public Sector” (picture of them in the HKonJ march above) dealing with issues impacting public workers. They’re having a day of action in Raleigh on April 4th.
It seems to me that as adjunct public employees, we somehow need to figure out where we fit – both in our particular position as part-time, semester-to-semester employees, and as public workers – and figure out how we are being used and treated in all the cuts and shifts going on currently.
What do other folks think about all this?