COVID and the subsequent student enrollment drop during the last
two semesters have placed great burdens on contingent faculty,
from scrambling to teach remotely to negotiating personal and
family challenges to facing reduced assignments and a loss of
Equal pay for equal work. It’s a simple idea, but one that has
remained all but elusive for part-time faculty, so much so that
some have decried the quest for it as a Sisyphean effort.
However, the recent gains made by the Peralta Federation of
Teachers shows that parity is possible.
Now, Peralta pays its adjuncts at the same hourly rate for
teaching and office hours as its full-time faculty — a first in
the California Community College system.
After last year’s heavily pandemic-impacted legislative session
reduced the number of bills signed to its lowest number since
1967, the CFT is again taking up the adjunct cause on bills
directed towards raising the part-time percentage cap on teaching
in a single district, and in developing a path towards
part-time/full-time pay parity.
In spite of the pandemic, a number of local unions won big gains
for adjuncts, from parity pay to distance education, to the
preservation of healthcare for adjuncts with reduced loads. These
wins are especially significant at this time in which revenues
are falling and concerns over future budgets made many
administrators skittish to bargain.
Could the dream of “equal pay for equal work” become a reality for contingent faculty in California? It could if CFT is successful in promoting the passage of progressive legislation, as part of the national AFT campaign to address the academic staffing crisis in higher education.
One of the principles of the the newly introduced Faculty and College Excellence Act (AB 1343, Mendoza, D-Artesia) is pro rata pay — and benefits equal to that of tenured and tenure-track faculty doing comparable work.