Monday, February 01, 2010

College wanted to privatize adjunct faculty to strip their pensions

Kirtland Community College in Michigan considered privatizing the handling of adjunct faculty payroll to avoid pension contributions for adjuncts. Of course the school would still decide which adjuncts to hire and fire, so this would add another layer of administrative dishonesty to the existing one that faculty who work for them for decades are "temporary."

This story also shows why it is essential for adjuncts to join or organize unions. Contact the American Federation of Teachers and ask them if you have a local to join or how to organize one. If you don't, pretty soon you'll be wearing a paper hat and asking your students if they would like fries with their lecture.

The AFT FACE blog described the proposed scam:

The trustees considered the plan last August because, if privatized, the adjuncts would not be part of the state's defined benefit pension plan. This would save the college the 17 percent contribution the state requires for each employee and save the adjuncts, many of whom don't put in enough time to vest, a required 3 percent contribution.

The plan was to farm out payroll administration of their adjunct's compensation but retain recruiting and hiring rights. So the adjuncts-some 80 who are hired each semester-would be employed by a private company that specializes in placing substitute teachers.

The 39 full-time faculty at KCC are represented by the AFT Michigan, but adjuncts have no union. KCC Federation of Teachers vice president Kevin Baughn and AFT Michigan president/AFT vice president David Hecker participated in discussion of the idea at KCC's January board meeting.


An INSIDE HIGHER ED article on this story

This time it didn't happen, but this isn't the last time we'll hear about this idea. Faculty unions should start preparing legislation to block efforts like this now, before the ball gets rolling.

It's ironic that when military functions were privatized, the mercenaries got paid ten times as much as real soldiers, but when they propose this for college instructors or actually go through with it like they have for K-12 teachers with corporate charter schools, it is invariably used to strip the pay and benefits of educators.

Shouldn't we have higher priorities than continually cutting budgets to save money to pay for tax cuts for the rich?


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