Adjuncts emphasize need for contracts

Samira Felix
News Editor 

The Faculty Senate on Monday unanimously approved a resolution to support the University’s adjunct faculty, who are hoping the University will transition them from hourly pay via a timecard system to contracts, or a per-class flat rate pay. 

The 20-0 Senate vote comes as the University is preparing to move all hourly employees, including adjunct faculty, to a new ADP timecard system that has them clock in and clock out in real time via their own computers or smartphones. The change is set to begin on July 1.

The current system, Kronos, consists of timesheets, which can be filled out anytime before their bi weekly due dates. The University already uses ADP for payroll services, like check printing, W-2 printing and tax deposits. 

Many adjuncts, who were already unhappy with the Kronos timecard system, are more concerned about the prospect of clocking in and out for the sometimes intangible work of brainstorming lesson plans, class prep and grading. 

“We’re going to lose a lot of good people,” said Norman Walton, a senior adjunct professor and Adjunct Council vice-chairman. “They’re just not going to do it. I have heard it far more than not. They’re just not going to do it, and I count myself amongst those. I won’t clock in and -out. I would take zero pay before I would do this… But that’s not necessarily a position that a lot of people are in.” 

Walton said he is at the University because he loves the school and loves working with the student body, because they are constantly challenging him to keep learning about the subjects he is teaching and the community, but he would not do the real-time timecards. 

“It would break my heart,” Walton said. “This is something I had planned on doing for the rest of my useful days at this University because I love this University, but I won’t do this.” 

Ghada Mouawad, senior adjunct professor of French and Adjunct Council chairwoman, said this transition is most concerning, because it is not doable with the type of work that professors do. 

“The problem with the clocking in, clocking out is our kind of work is not really measurable that way,” Mouawad said. “We provide intellectual work, so we cannot really measure our service in that way. It seems the logical way would be to go back to the contracts we used to have prior to the pandemic.”

Adjunct professors were switched to hourly pay from contracts to comply with Assembly Bill 736, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 9, 2020. 

The law expanded the professional exemption classification within the Industrial Welfare Commission to consider part-time faculty at private, non-profit universities professional employees. This would excuse professionals from California wage and hour laws and the permission to implement a salary pay structure. If an instructor is to be paid on a salary basis, however, it must be no less than double the state’s minimum wage. 

The University’s total budget for its adjunct faculty members is $6.2 million a year.

Avo Kechichian, chief financial officer, said at the Faculty Senate meeting Monday that in order to switch adjuncts to contracts that abide by AB 736, the University would have to substantially reduce the number of adjunct-taught courses.

“We as the administration are still having conversations about moving adjunct faculty onto contract,” University President Pardis Mahdavi said in an emailed statement Monday. “We are supportive of this move, however, we recognize that this is a process that takes some time, and therefore we are engaging this ADP system as a way to ensure efficiency of time keeping in the interim, while we work toward a contract system.”

Rick Hasse, instructor of accounting and finance and chairman of the Faculty Budget and Compensation Committee, said adjunct professors are severely underpaid.

“It’s a tough system,” Hasse said. “We’re trying to work it out and make it feasible where the faculty get paid, and they can do it without all these dumb timesheets because it’s very difficult to do this.” 

According to the University human resources office’s published rates, adjunct faculty hourly compensation is determined by their rank and highest degree as follows:

  • Adjunct instructors with “no terminal degree” earn  $27.59 per hour;
  • Senior adjunct instructors with “no terminal degree” earn $28.12 per hour;
  • Adjunct professors with “terminal degree” earn $28.65 per hour;
  • Senior Adjunct Professors with “terminal degrees” earn $28.71 per hour. 

Adjunct faculty are expected to put in roughly160 hours per semester for a four-unit undergraduate class or a three-unit graduate class. For a one-unit course, they are expected to put in roughly 60 hours. 

So an adjunct teaching a four-unit undergraduate class can expect to earn between roughly $4,414.40 and $4,753.60. For one-unit courses, they earn between roughly $1,655.40 and $1,782.60. 

Walton said when adjuncts began reporting their hours with Kronos, he began a study with the help of the provost’s office, to investigate the equity of this process. He said he saw a curve where people were “wildly underpaying” themselves. “It topped out for a little bit where people were paying themselves correctly and then there was a spike, a very short spike, of a few people who were being overpaid.

In the middle, you’ve still got the massive number of people who are being underpaid, and that’s when it was easy to track the number of hours we’re working,” Walton said. “That’s just not going to be the case going forward.”

Marcia Godwin, director of part-time faculty affairs and professor of public administration, said she is assisting with analyses on how reporting of work hours is happening now and the variations and types of hours being reported. And she is also looking at other universities that have hourly systems along with universities that have gone to contracts to compare those differences.

Mouawad added that she hopes questions regarding contracts can be answered before the fall. 

“We are working as effectively as we can,” Mouawad said. “I don’t think I can make any promises or speculations…We are definitely involved with the working group that are looking into everything and we want to do a good job.” 

Samira Felix can be reached at samira.felix@laverne.edu.

Samira Felix, a junior journalism major with a concentration in print-online journalism, is news editor for the Campus Times. She previously served as a staff writer.

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