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Adjuncts deserve better pay

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Assembly Bill 1466 was approved by the California legislature and now awaits Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature. If the governor signs it this month, it would mean a roughly 88% pay raise for adjunct faculty, who are currently woefully under paid here, with private universities across the state. 

 Under the proposed law, an adjunct earning roughly $4,000 for a four-unit class, would get about $7,500 for teaching that same class. This is because the bill would require the University of La Verne – and other universities – to pay adjuncts for the actual time teaching takes, not just the three or four hours they are in front of the class, but also the prep time, grading time and time spent meeting with students outside of class.

Adjunct faculty are part-time instructors, as compared with full-time, tenured or tenure track faculty, who are salaried and who generally carry a course load of three classes in fall and three in spring here.

Some adjunct work more than part time, either teaching numerous classes at ULV, or teaching here as well as at other institutions in order to make ends meet, which is difficult at their current pay rate.

Adjuncts have little job security, and they do not know from one semester to the next how many classes they will be hired to teach, or even whether they will have employment. And yet at the University of La Verne, adjuncts teach more than half of our classes. 

Our adjuncts are skilled professionals with the requisite degrees, generally Ph.D.s, and yet under the current pay structure, our adjuncts may earn less hourly than minimum wage workers. 

Under AB 1466, adjuncts would be paid not only for their time before a class, but for each hour they are in the classroom, they would be paid for an additional 3.5 hours, at a rate of at least twice the state minimum wage. 

AB 1466 is not a permanent solution for this University, or for higher education in general, as it does not fully address the inherent problems when most classes are delivered by often excellent professors who are nonetheless rewarded with job insecurity. But the bill – with the raise it would bring to our underpaid adjuncts – is a big step toward paying our valued and excellent adjuncts fairly for their hard work, and it could also help us retain the good ones longer. 

Ultimately the University needs to secure and more full-time faculty positions. Over the years, administration has grown. The money that is going into newly created administrative positions should go toward ensuring more full time faculty so that the majority of classes here are taught by well compensated full-time faculty. 

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