” Matthew Williams is an assistant lecturer of Communication at the University of Akron. His passion for teaching is the only thing that is keeping him from leaving his position. Williams is an adjunct faculty member. Adjunct and contingent faculty members work fewer hours than their full time and tenure colleagues.””
Matthew Williams is an assistant lecturer of Communication at the University of Akron.
His passion for teaching is the only thing that is keeping him from leaving his position.
Williams is an adjunct faculty member. Adjunct and contingent faculty members work fewer hours than their full time and tenure colleagues. It is difficult for them to obtain more hours and they are not given benefits.
There are simply not enough jobs in higher education to absorb everyone who has an advanced degree, he explained, shaking his head.
The more people that there are with the same degree, the less you can get away with paying them.
He said that adjunct and contingent faculty members make approximately a third to a quarter of what full time professors make.
Williams also explained that many don’t get paid for the work they do outside of the classroom, such as grading papers and preparing lesson plans.
New Faculty Majority is an organization that aims to help adjunct and contingent faculty members in the United States receive the pay and benefits that they deserve.
Williams is vice president of NFM’s board of directors.
NFM gained most of its momentum in the fall of 2008. While there have been many organizations similar to it, they have not been successful.
Willilams explained that it’s difficult to get the people who are affected by the situation very involved. This is because they are already busy working as much as they can and trying to make ends meet financially, they often can’t afford to devote much time to the cause.
He said that there are many issues to be considered when trying to solve the problem. There are the issues of pay, benefits and contracts, among other things.
We do get sick time, but we really can’t use it. If we stop showing up because we’re sick, we have no protection whatsoever. They’ll simply pick someone who isn’t sick as much, he said.
Williams stressed the concept of equitable compensation, which is receiving equal pay for equal work.
If we’re doing substantially the same thing in the classroom, then we ought to be paid equitably, he said.
The mission statement of NFM is to achieve professional equality for all adjunct and contingent faculty in American colleges and universities. NFM seeks the greatest possible degree of economic justice for all faculty.
At the moment, NFM is working on a publicity campaign. The group members are attempting to increase knowledge and awareness of the situation.
Williams explained that many parents and students have no idea how adjunct and contingent faculty are treated.
It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but the public will soon begin to learn about what’s happening in higher education and about the working poor who are teaching their sons and daughters.
The group has applied for non-profit status, which is still pending.
I’ve held professional jobs before where I made between $55,000 and $80,000 a year. I’ve been a director at the Summit County Board of Elections, Williams said.
It’s not like I don’t have other resources. I just love to teach!
Besides his love of teaching, Williams is involved in NFM because he wants to help other adjunct and contingent faculty members.
There’s so much that’s broken that needs to be fixed, he said quietly.
He shared a recent situation in which his family didn’t have health insurance.
The sad reality of the situation is that I simply can’t afford to buy the university’s health policy, even if I were eligible to do so, based on what they pay me as an adjunct faculty member.
Williams added that most full-time faculty members are on nine-month contracts, meaning that they are getting paid an average annual salary of $50,000 to $60,000 for nine months of work.
These full-time professors have the opportunity to double dip by teaching summer courses. They get paid extra for these courses. Williams argued that these professors are taking the extra income away from those who really need it.
Some of us need these extra courses just to put groceries on the table, he said.
This just doesn’t make sense. It’s not in the best interest of the students, it’s not in the best interest of the university and it certainly is not in the best interest of the folks who love being here and teaching here.
He noted that adjunct and contingent faculty members represent 60 to 70 percent of the academic labor force in the United States and make up 50 to 60 percent at UA.
Williams explains they are not asking full-time faculty members to give anything up.
We’d like them to join our cause, he said.
On the first day of class he always asks his students how much money they think he makes.
I typically get guesses of between $40,000 and $70,000 a year. When I tell them that it is approximately $18,000 a year, it’s mind-blowing to them.
He proudly noted that he added a section about the equitable treatment of faculty in his syllabus this semester.
Beware the person who has nothing to lose, he said with a slight smile, citing an Italian proverb.
Some of our students are making more money than we are, he added.
To make ends meet, Williams does marketing and Web designing on the side. He also delivers trailers on occasion.
Anyone can join NFM. Since the opening of their new Web site last week, they have gained over 100 new members and have received many donations.
He urges the campus community to visit the new Web site at www.newfacultymajority.info.
Sojourner Truth recited a famous speech in downtown Akron called ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ Well, ain’t I a faculty member? I’m either doing the job or I’m not doing the job. If I am doing the job then I should be treated decently, and that’s not happening.
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