Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

If there is a strike for non-tenure track faculty members,.....


Replies to: If there is a strike for non-tenure track faculty members,.....

  • kaukaunakaukauna Registered User Posts: 1,127 Senior Member
    As is often stated, the minimum wage in any situation is always zero. If strikes happen, the inevitable outcome is higher costs which will have to be born by someone--families, the endowment, fewer research opportunities, etc. (although doubtless not fewer administrators who are as resilient as kudzu in the Tennessee forest). The puzzling thing is that if the salaries are so bad, why do adjunct and non-tenure track positions get filled at the current salary rates?

    If salaries are forced to go higher, there will be, of course, unanticipated consequences. One possible outcome is that more (and probably better) persons will apply thus driving out some of the incumbents who voted to go on strike.
  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 4,959 Senior Member
    @JHS, European and American Civ. are both taught by history (tenure-track) faculty. Western Civ. is taught by Boyer in the summer and Katy Weintraub during the rest of the year. Weintraub (widow of the famous Karl Weintraub) seems to be a lecturer as opposed to tenured faculty and might have a special, "permanent" position connected to the circumstances surrounding that course, the re-vamp of the Civ Core, and the University's supposed promise to keep Western Civ. going as long as there is a Weintraub teaching it. As to the rest of Civ, it could depend on the particular department but all the ones I've looked at seem to have tenure-track faculty teaching it. History profs. in particular seem to be professors of History and of the College so their teaching load might be quite heavy on average. That could be a reason why there are so many of them.

    I suppose Post-docs might be teaching in the college as well; not sure how many of them would be assigned to the Core.

    Two courses a quarter wouldn't leave much free time and obviously these guys can't take paid sabbatical like a tenured prof is able to do; however, some adjuncts probably do have other projects going - a book or consultancy, for instance, and some might also be applying for a tenure track somewhere else. Others still might be able to teach at more than one institution. As to the time needed to teach, the Sosc and Hum sequences have set curricula without much revision and are just shy of 6 hours per week. There would be start-up costs at first but likely it becomes easier once you've taught a section. And of course the higher demand adjuncts will likely be able to negotiate a better salary. No doubt that each would prefer a tenured position somewhere but as noted earlier on, those jobs are very hard to get.
  • phoenix1616phoenix1616 Registered User Posts: 92 Junior Member
    The non-students that are regulars on this board are generally bafflingly uninformed for people who apparently obsess over UChicago, @JHS and @marlowe1 excepted. All of you seem to have no idea what non-tenure-track faculty’s jobs are like, the extent of their use at Chicago, the job market for such jobs, etc.
  • phoenix1616phoenix1616 Registered User Posts: 92 Junior Member
    The UChicago AAUP site has the actual petition @JBStillFlying
  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 4,959 Senior Member
    edited March 14
    @phoenix1616 Thanks but this is a letter of support from tenure-track faculty. I was referring to the list of non-tenure-track instructors who petitioned per the Maroon article linked in the first post.

    "The union circulated a petition in support of the negotiations, and lecturers in multiple departments sent almost-identical letters requesting supporters’ signatures."

    Where is that list?

    Also, which posts on this thread are you struggling with? Last count I saw (Fall 2016 - there's probably something more recent) out of 2,843 "Faculty and other academic appointees" there were 2,350 "full time" and 493 "part-time". Now, perhaps some "full-time" include non-tenure-track lecturers (and perhaps some of those "part-time" are tenured? Not sure) - but there's going to be a lot of overlap between the number of "part time" and the number of "non-tenure-track". So we are potentially talking about less than 20% of the total university faculty and equivalent here. My own first year kid's schedule for Winter and Spring includes exactly one adjunct out of eight different instructors - the remainder are post-doc fellows, grad students, and tenured faculty. And while I can't remember 100% I believe that in the Fall quarter she had exactly "zero" adjuncts. So this class of instructor doesn't seem to be quite as prominent as some are maintaining. Maybe it differs by departments - by the end of first year she'll have been in core math, hum, sosc, art, phy sci and bio along with History and English.

    Furthermore, we know a few of those permanent lecturers and at least one of them who was helping to run the undergrad program in a particular department quit - due, in part, to the vote to unionize. It's a major blow to that program - they are losing a smart instructor with years of teaching and administrative experience who knows the place inside and out. Not everyone is thrilled with the decision.
  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 4,959 Senior Member
    Addendum to #20 - just checked and that person who quit did so because his/her pay was actually REDUCED after they unionized. The job titles and pay categories were re-done and the most talented and highly paid were downscaled (and probably the opposite for the lowest paid). So this senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies for the department - someone who had been a staple for a number of years - is no longer there. So much for higher quality. How many other departments experienced the same, I wonder?
  • caesarcreekcaesarcreek Registered User Posts: 132 Junior Member
    Next you're going to tell me that they should die and decrease the surplus population.
  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 4,959 Senior Member
    Anyone who equates leaving a profession because it doesn't pay enough or you can't advance to your satisfaction to "dying" is taking "up or out" to a whole new level. Probably watching a bit too much "Survivor".
  • FStratfordFStratford Registered User Posts: 409 Member
    "However, their chances of competing successfully for an adjunct position are smaller now because the union protects the current field. "

    I don't see them being protected from the increased competition if their contracts are renewed every year or every two years. One to two year contracts are not sticky enough. In theory, within a year or two, all adjuncts can be replaced. Are they also asking for longer contracts aside from higher pay? That would be the ultimate move - almost like a mini-tenure. No job exists like that - except in academia, or the C-Suite.
  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 4,959 Senior Member
    @FStratford - not sure how the contract would work. But firing for cause would most likely involve the union. Over the years I've seen some pretty fireable offenses and behavior in unionized employ with very little that Management can do till a crisis happens (which is exactly what happened in the two - three cases I can recall). This isn't just reality - it's common sense: that employee was paying union dues

    However, it's not just that firing individually is harder - it's that the number of adjuncts will be fewer than before because, again, the wage is above the market-clearing level. That's just Micro 101. The university will claim budget cuts and eliminate some instructors as a result. The sad thing is that some good ones will be eliminated and some not-so-good will be retained because it's based on seniority, not on competence. I've seen that as well.

    There's a good argument for how any of this differs from the tenure system, of course, and we all can recount stories of deadweight faculty who are really crappy instructors - or worse. Thoughts?
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,983 Senior Member
    edited March 15
    @JBStillFlying : I am pretty sure all of those "post doc fellows" are the bulk of what we are talking about: Recent PhDs with non-tenure-track positions teaching Core courses. They, and some "lecturers" -- often talented teachers and first-rate minds, without first-rate publications -- make up most of the full-time, non-tenure track faculty at Chicago, as far as I know. I don't think there are a lot of true "adjuncts" teaching in the College, although there are probably a bunch in the professional schools.

    Also, I don't think seniority necessarily plays a big role in academic union contracts.
  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 4,959 Senior Member
    @JHS - Ah, ok. So the College has full time lecturers, part time lecturers, and post-doc fellows? Are the latter full time or part time? (guessing the former). Of the 2,800 or so "faculty and other appointees" approximately 1,000 are 'other' as of Fall 2016 - maybe that's the number of non tenure track? An academic I know at a state flagship told me that they have about a 2:1 ratio of tenure-track/non. So 1800 in the tenure stream or tenured at UChicago vs. 1,000 not on that track sounds consistent, although for some reason 1,800 faculty members seems low (to me anyway).

    Aren't post-docs also temporary positions - say, for a few years duration - to allow for additional research before going on the faculty job market? How many courses are they expected to teach? D's instructors were fairly young/had joined within the past year or two. She has really enjoyed getting to know them. While no doubt each course requires a bit of prep on the instructor's part, it seemed that most of the seminars were assigned to a student either to present something or to kick off the discussion. Very little, if any lecture prep, though admittedly running a couple classes per quarter will take away from research time. Of course, tenure-track faculty tend to have both teaching AND administrative (departmental) duties. The post docs probably get to avoid the latter.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,983 Senior Member
    edited March 15
    I don't know for sure, but I think they are hired on four-year contracts. They have all probably been on the job market, unsuccessfully so far. Or rather, this is part of the job market, but neither the favored end of it nor the worst.

    I think most of them teach two sections of the same Core course, Hum or Sosc. So they don't have to prepare two different courses, but they have to read a bunch of papers. Others seem to teach the Art core courses, or creative writing. (I think all of the creative writing teachers are adjuncts or other types of non-ladder faculty. That may be the case with the drama courses, too, I know my son had a course on set design with an adjunct who was a well-regarded set designer.)

    Anyway, I looked and there are 14 of them teaching Hum sections. We know all first-years and transfers take Hum, so that's about 1650 Hum slots. Fourteen of these "fellows" would only represent about 532 of those -- less than I thought, but about a third.

    On the university web site, they have bios and attractive pictures of the current people and a bunch of recent ex-fellows. It looks like most (but far from all) of the alumni have ladder positions somewhere.

    https://societyoffellows.uchicago.edu/directories/full/collegiate-fellows https://societyoffellows.uchicago.edu/directories/full/recent-alumni-fellows
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,983 Senior Member
    I bet the overall numbers are distorted a lot by the medical school, which will have a ton of people with faculty titles but not a tenure track. All the professional schools probably have a high number of non-tenure lecturers and adjuncts. I don't know what business schools or policy schools look like, but I know law schools and social service schools will have lots.
  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 4,959 Senior Member
    @JHS they break out the Med. School as a subgroup. There appear to be 1,025 tenure/tenure-track, including 810 clinical/BSD and 1,015 non-clinical. Then there are 1,018 "other faculty". Some of these presumably are "part-time" but not sure. Anyway here's the webpage:


    Both Huma and Sosc. instructors for D taught only one section in the winter.The Huma instructor is actually a "post-doctoral researcher and instructor" listed under "affiliate faculty" of the History department. That explains why D loved Huma - he's a historian - oh whoops make that "an historian". The Sosc. guy is a "Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences Division and a Lecturer in Political Science". Maybe if affiliated with a department you get a lighter teaching load and are doing even more research.

    I was mistaken earlier about European Civ. being taught just by history faculty, as it appears that a collegiate fellow teaches two sections while regular faculty teaches just one. European Civ is one of the teaching responsibilities of those applying to this type of fellowship (although on the website it's mismarked as a Sosc. course - it's currently a Hist. course that meets the Civ requirement).

    So, to recap: there are 35 collegiate fellows, some as-yet-uncounted number of post-doc teaching fellows and post-doc instructors, and then other lecturers of various full-time/part-time status. You are probably correct that "adjuncts" at the university are properly in the prof. schools - perhaps these are some of the the part-timers?

    So just to clarify, which of all these different classes of non-tenure-track instructors are the ones who are unionized and threatening to strike?
Sign In or Register to comment.