New study explores sociology adjunct working conditions

As the only part-time faculty member of an American Sociological Association taskforce assembled to investigate the teaching of sociology within community colleges, Peralta Federation of Teachers member and Laney College instructor Cynthia Mahabir co-authored a scholarly study of data collected from part-time sociology instructors in the nation’s community colleges. 

Titled “Sociology Faculty Members Employed Part-Time in Community Colleges: Structural Disadvantage, Cultural Devaluation, and Faculty-Student Relationships” and published in the journal Teaching Sociology, the article documents differences in working conditions between full-time and part-time instructors, ultimately arguing for greater support by full-time faculty and administrators for their part-time colleagues — the majority of Sociology instructors in the nation — in the interest of student learning. 

Read the study abstract and find the entire article through academic databases (DOI:10.1177/0092055X16654744). 

Organizing connects part-timers to their unions

Part-time faculty continue to get connected to their unions through the CFT Building Power program. Building Power provides funding, training, and support for local member-organizers to reach out specifically to part-time instructors, engaging in small-group and one-on-one conversations to learn more about what matters most to them.

On its two campuses, Canyon Country and Valencia, Part-Time Faculty United at College of the Canyons has reached out to instructors in record numbers. Since last spring, membership in the part-time-faculty-only union has jumped from 38 percent to 75 percent, and participation in union events including unemployment benefit workshops has increased dramatically. The local recently negotiated paid office hours and more dedicated space on campus to hold them.

At all four Fresno-area colleges represented by the State Center Federation of Teachers, dozens of member organizers held one-on-one conversations with part-time instructors. More than 100 part-timers joined the union, and nearly twice as many signed a petition urging the district to negotiate paid office hours for adjuncts.

Seniority lists for reemployment, paid participation in governance

  • After years of struggle and months of member-power building, the Cerritos College Faculty Federation convinced the local board of trustees on September 21 to approve the collective bargaining agreement its members had recently ratified, 283 to 2. The new contract provisions benefiting part-time faculty include seniority lists for reemployment, paid office hours, and increased hourly compensation with an additional 2.5 percent increase effective July 2017.
  • Cabrillo College Federation of Teachers negotiated a continuation of their 2014 pilot program to pay part-time faculty for involvement in select participatory governance committees, or “ancillary activities.” A recent survey of Cabrillo faculty suggests that a majority of part-time instructors participate in ancillary activities for which they are not compensated


  • Experience “heartbreaking stories from the academic underclass,” including some of our own CFT members who teach at community colleges and universities in this article published by Salon, “Life in academic poverty as an underpaid university teacher: “They just don’t want to pay”
  • COCAL XII: The 12th biennial conference of the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor was held in Alberta, Canada, in August. Attendees from Mexico, the United States, and Canada shared their struggles and victories, strategizing future gains for contingent academic workers in higher education.