April 1, 2016
Duke non-tenured faculty voted overwhelmingly to join in union last month
A primer: college faculty in the United States went from two-thirds tenured in 1970 to three-fourths nontenured today. According to the American Association of University Professors, half of nontenured faculty members teach part-time. It’s common for all of them to be paid by the course. Average payment: $2,800, usually with no benefits.
Do the math and you’ll find that a college instructor teaching four classes per semester—three is usually considered a full load—would earn just $22,400 a year. Throw in a summer job, and it’s still far short of the $35,000 starting pay for K–12 public school teachers in North Carolina, a state that ranks near the bottom in teacher pay.
At a forum in Durham a few months ago, someone said that, as poorly paid as school teachers are, the worst-paid teachers work in our colleges and community colleges, most after earning a master’s or Ph.D.
That comment stuck with me, as did the observation by state AFL-CIO leader MaryBe McMillan that these underpaid professionals are victims of the “gig economy,” in which jobs that used to be secure and well paid are being replaced by lower-paid contract workers.
“Workers in all types of jobs are working longer and harder for less and less, and meanwhile the divide between the haves and the have-nots gets wider and wider,” McMillan told the forum.
— NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) March 21, 2016