Democrats, unions ignore plight of unbridled professors

Democrats project the public image of standing up for the little guy, favoring unions and workers over management, promoting equality and fairness, and condemning discrimination and systemic racism. But good intentions can be deflected when the so-called good guys fuel inequity and discrimination.

While Democrats have touted colleges as engines of equality and upward mobility, they ignored the unequal two-tier work system of faculty, with the top tier being instructors leading to tenure, with job security for life, higher pay and full-time employment, while the lower non-tenure levels are contracted out, receive a greatly reduced salary (e.g., often 60 cents on the dollar) and a charge of often capped work (eg no more than 67% of full time), which can lead to poverty wages. As a non-tenured assistant instructor for 28 years, I earned a gross annual income of about $ 20,000 teaching roughly part-time in Kitsap County, where the median annual income is $ 82,000.

The treatment of unconfirmed professors would be unimportant if their role were unimportant, but they are integral in all respects. At Washington Community and Technical Colleges, they occupy nearly half of all classes, 45.3%, and in terms of enrollment, they are the majority – the 7,870 non-tenured part-time instructors are vastly outnumbered. the 3,597 instructors of the State.

It sounds decidedly Orwellian when Democrats proclaim their commitment to canceling student loans, free tuition, and other programs aimed at lifting people out of poverty while denying a living wage to the very people who provide them. means of carrying out these proclamations.

Democrats generally feel confident in aligning themselves with faculty unions, which for years have been pushing for full-time tenure-track faculty positions (for example, in Washington state, Bill 6405 Senate from last year was recycled this year into E2SSB 5194 and its identical House Companion House Bill 1318, all sponsored exclusively by Democrats). But when assistants outnumber full-time instructors, adding full-time positions does not solve the problem. In addition, these bills offer false hope to part-time instructors when they convert positions, not individuals, leaving the poor working conditions of auxiliaries intact.

If these bills replaced summary paraprofessionals with bona fide professionals, they could be considered improvements, but they cannot be characterized as such. No credible research results suggest the superiority of tenured instructors or that non-tenured instructors are only 60% as effective as their discounted rate of pay suggests.

At stake is the tenurism bias, the belief that tenure is a merit system, that incumbents are superior instructors and deserve job security and a pay bonus with its cruel corollary that non-tenured are inferior and less deserving. Tenurism is cognitive dissonance in the face of the abject inequity of teaching staff at two levels: Tenure-track and non-tenure-lead instructors meet the same degree requirements, award grades and credits that have the same value and have the same tuition charged. for their classes, but are certainly not treated as equals. Tenurism rationalizes this lack of equality, giving rise to arguments like: “Since incumbents are treated so much better, they must in fact be better.” Like racism, sexism, and ageism, Tenurism makes morality appear immoral and closes the mind to taking counter-positions, such as correcting unfair working conditions, into account.

If the squeaky wheel receives grease, then the uncleaned faculty may be doomed. Lacking job security, most auxiliaries are not about to complain about the unfairness of their poor working conditions. Despite decades of union representation, no transition from non-tenure to tenure track status exists in Washington colleges. The creation of more tenure-track positions will mean that many non-incumbents will lose their jobs. The unions seem eager for this to happen.

Instead of hiring new tenured instructors, a reasonable and more realistic option would be to establish a trial period for current non-tenured instructors (as opposed to their current lifelong probation), after which they could qualify for a trial period. ” job protection thanks to seniority. Although it is not a question of permanence, it would allow a certain security of employment and would not have an impact on the State budget. Those who cry out that state law should not interfere with collective bargaining must take into account that bargaining has failed to secure basic workplace provisions like equality pay and job security.

The true defender of workers is their union, which must honor, not ignore, its duty of fair representation and treat all those it represents fairly; it cannot read favorites. President Joe Biden has made statements against systemic racism, raising hopes that egalitarianism will triumph over elitism and that discrimination will be recognized and overturned even if it is mainstreamed as the norm.

When will Democrats and unions demand that colleges and universities provide their faculties with the same upward mobility and career opportunities that they offer their students?


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