A crowd of more than 100 members strong — some seasoned
part-timers with decades of experience, others new adjuncts for
which this was their first union event — were engaged as the CFT
Part-Time Faculty Conference, with a theme of “Equity for
Contingent Faculty” opened to roars and cheers. The feeling one
had as a part-timer was best summed up by Lin Chan, co-chair of
the CFT Part-Time Faculty Committee, “You’re not one
person…you’re one of thousands.”
The results of CFT’s groundbreaking statewide survey of part-time faculty offers critical insights into the daily, personal, and structural challenges that part-time and contingent faculty experience when it comes to healthcare.
For Tehmina Khan, who teaches English and
Interdisciplinary Studies part-time at San Francisco City
College, the semester-to-semester fear of being dropped from
district coverage is akin to “walking the tightrope.” Over the
past decade, the San Francisco Community College District has
seen a 65% drop in student enrollment.
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
Honour Harry works two jobs — as a freelance illustrator and
doing children’s education at a local church — in addition to her
job teaching art for the North Orange Community College District.
Harry doesn’t teach on campus. Instead, she goes into nursing
homes, often working with people who are in memory care and who
WASHINGTON — A new national adjunct faculty survey from the AFT
underlines the brutal economic reality faced by millions of
contingent and adjunct faculty at the nation’s colleges and
universities — and illustrates how the pandemic further eroded
job security and bolstered the need for public help.
Dozens of CFT members testified this week in front of two
different budget subcommittees of the California Legislature to
urge our elected leaders in Sacramento to support Governor
Newsom’s $200 million proposal in the state budget
to fund healthcare for part-time faculty in California’s
Following the launch of CFT’s campaign for part-time faculty
healthcare last fall and a successful letter campaign, the
governor included the $200 million in his January budget
During the holiday break, 1,400 people sent letters to Governor
Newsom and key legislators demanding funding for part-time
faculty healthcare. As a result of these efforts, the governor
allocated $200 million in his January 10 state budget
proposal to fund healthcare for part-time faculty on
an ongoing basis. This increase
represents more than 400 times the level of funding in the
existing state program.
For about three years the University Council-AFT engaged in
protracted negotiations on behalf of lecturers in their unit.
Their aims have always been about fairness — better working
conditions for lecturers and improved learning conditions for
students. Their fight has been about not only winning economic
and contractual gains for members, but gaining professional
respect and recognition for their teaching at the University of
California. Their campaign has been a true member-driven effort,
rooted in years of organizing by the statewide local that
represents both continuing lecturers and librarians, led by their
president, Mia McIver, and a committed negotiations team.
The pandemic has pushed many harsh realities in
higher education to the forefront, none more so than the
inadequacy of healthcare for part-time faculty. With the cost of
an average COVID hospitalization, according to a number of
sources, running in excess of $20,000, the financial effects
alone on an uninsured part-timer contracting COVID can be
devastating. Add a possible uninsured family member or members to
the mix, and the reality becomes even more frightening.