43°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

New Report Gives Area Colleges Failing Grades

UMass Boston received a C- in a Campus Equity Report Card issued by the Boston chapter of the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL). The Report Card examines pay and benefits for part-time or adjunct faculty at 35 Greater Boston-area colleges.

The Report Card is being issued in connection with Campus Equity Week, an international week of actions (Oct. 28-Nov. 3) calling attention to the exploitation of part-time and other contingent academic labor. Across the United States, only about a third of college faculty hold traditional tenure-track positions-43 percent of faculty teach full-time temporary positions. These contingent academic laborers work without job security, usually without benefits, at salaries a small fraction of those paid to regular faculty. Many are forced to teach at two, three or even more campuses in order to piece together enough income to survive, in the process often teaching more classes than do their full-time counterparts.

COCAL is part of a North America network of activists working to improve the work lives of the rapidly growing contingent academic labor force. COCAL is pressing for equal pay for equal work, full medical and retirement benefits, job security and other protections.

Data for the Campus Equity Report Card were gathered from a national survey of academic departments by the Modern Language Association, a survey of Boston area adjunct faculty by the American Association of University Professors, analysis of union contracts covering institutions where adjunct faculty have union representation, and reports by COCAL members. The grade is based on the ratio of part-time assistant professor salaries. Institutions which provide benefits received extra credit. Institutions which pay less than $2,000 per course received a failing grade regardless of the ratio to full-time salaries, as a “part-time” professor earning such a salary would be compelled to teach more than 20 courses a year in order to cover the basic costs of living and working in the Boston area (self-sufficiency Standard for Massachusetts, 1998).

COCAL will be organizing a series of campus meetings, public forums, pickets and other actions throughout the current academic year to build public awareness of these conditions, and to assist efforts at campuses throughout the Boston area to win improved conditions. Among these efforts are a struggle by part-time faculty in the Community College system to win benefits for the thousands of “part-time” faculty that teach more than a half-time load (all other state employees receive benefits with half-time status), and efforts by Emerson College adjuncts and U Mass Boston continuing education faculty, both of whom recently voted for union representation, to win first contracts.