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Higher Ed Goliath Has Freakishly Large Forehead (Contact Hours versus Actual Labor)












I maintained an active login of my hours Spring 2011 (100% online); this included prep, discussion board, office hour-like meetings, emailing, faculty meetings, chair consultations, viewing (for film, theatre), listening (for music sections), and podcasting (to give the “live”ness many students expect).

“Introduction to Philosophy”

“Myth in US Culture”

“College Composition I”

This is a representative sample of the labor hours give or take a couple hours up and down, across all colleges taught (private, public, elite, vocational).

Philosophy = 9-11hrs a week per section per week x 16 weeks = 144 – 176 labour hours

Translation = 3 (credit hours) x 16 weeks = 48hrs

Myth = 7-9hrs a week per section per week x 16 weeks = 122 -144 labor hours

Translation = 3 (credit hours) x 16 weeks = 48hrs

College Comp = 11-15hrs a week per section per week x 16 weeks = 176 – 240

Translation = 3 (credit hours) x 16 weeks = 48hrs

Now, let’s just go over the figures, not the depressed professional rate or anything involving markets just yet —

Total hours compensated = 144 ($2050/course = $14.24/hr) x 3 courses = $6,150.00

Yet, in reality, even just following their per hour, not credit hour, but per hour rate)

Total hours works Spring 2011 = 442 – 560 x $14.24/hr = $6294.08 – $7974.40 x 3 courses =$18,882.24 – $23,923.20

$6,150 versus $18,882.24 — approximately TRIPLE compensation is owed right now.

Not exciting, not even close to professional rate, but a fair statement of compensation based on college/university salaries.

You know you have to pay us, right?
I’m not sure you do.
Who am I talking to?

You know who you are — and you know this is how we are going to make progress before we even get to health care, office hours, etc.


How is this not (1) inherent, (2) enforced, and (3) expected labor exploitation?

Isn’t this precisely the practice that provokes the left to attack (correctly)WalMart and other box stores?

Since when do conservatives support NOT paying people for their employ? The issue always was how much; but there is general consensus that you work X amount of hours and then get paid Y dollars.

Can you imagine any lawyer not billing (even if a write off for pro bono) a client the total billable hours for all work: phone calls, emails, meetings, court appearances, travel on behalf of client, all expenses, etc.

The irony is, of coursre, that a better, mutually agreeable set of hours and terms/conditions could be worked out in permanent part time or yearly contracts, saving the colleges and universities the time, money, and headache of figuring our how to compensate for writing versus accounting versus phelbotomy.

I’d like to end with a comment about professionalization. My Canadian and European colleges have been very persuasive in their push to not just movilize or unionize the adjuncts but offer us/them a new way of thinking about our status as professionals. “Migrant Intellectual” is part of that movement, in part because no other tactic seems to be working.

I know conceptually America has a hard time understanding that JDs aren’t “doctors” in the sense of scholars or experts on a topic; that’s reserved for PhD. Also, MA holders who complete theses have more credentials than the average JD — in terms of professional compensation, I mean. Not in terms of purpose or quality of work. A worker holding a doctorate in an academic environement is an asset to the faculty and students: expertise, experience, and clear evidence of commitment to a field or how a field needs to change in response to current academic/professional/vocational conditions.

The time is now; the struggle continues.
(August Wilson, 1945-2005)


About Dean RCB

Dean of Academics Lebanon College Philosophy and Integrated Liberal Arts Writer & Producer (theatre, television, film) Composer & Producer RCB lives in the Upper Valley with his wife and four boys.

5 responses to “Higher Ed Goliath Has Freakishly Large Forehead (Contact Hours versus Actual Labor)

  1. Pingback: Some Other Way (series): MOOCs « Migrant Intellectual

  2. Not without class action suits. good luck with that. I mean, I say — let’s go for it. But, there are a lot of steps between here and victory when it comes to that level of recourse. No contractor accepts a third of a payment. Why do we? Because we’re dependent on the colleges and universities. They failed us. I say: professionalize or create guild structures, pull the talent from the universities and colleges, and then put them in a bidding war for our various organizations. How? Not sure yet. But, since our administrators meet more with roofing or plumbing contractors, maybe we should learn something from our service and technical colleagues.

    The I.T. guy can negotiate because he’s not dependent on the college or university; the adjunct can’t because the adjunct is still relying solely on higher education to get the memo and wake up. It’s now too late, we’re in the nightmare. And Chronicle can publish as many “ohhhhh, look at the poor adjunct” articles they want; they can blog about it. But, action? No. That’s a whole different level of activism.

    The struggle continues.

    • Greg ⋅

      MOOCs (currently) are 21st century “one-room asynchronous schoolhouses,” with all the good and bad ramifications of that. A guild of MOOCies, like a university operating on graduate teaching assistants, could somewhat (albeit temporarily, say for 1/2 a generation) “rule the world of higher ed.” Think about it. Instead of classmates grading your work in a course of thousands, you had dozens of MOOCie-profs from which to choose. And, you wouldn’t receive your grade until you’d paid your MOOCie-prof for his/her labor, according to the guild rates. This would circumvent middle-management masquerading as “market forces.”

  3. Reblogged this on As the Adjunctiverse Turns and commented:
    Looking for the real skinny on contact hours? Here it is: you work them, now try to get paid. It’s like being an intern with a lot of responsibilities, not just unpaid without the prestige or being CV-able. Anyone for demanding not just pay but *back pay*?

  4. Pingback: Your Work Life | Your Hands | Your Risk « migrantintellectual

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