MLA Executive Director Advocates for Fair and Equitable Treatment of Contingent Faculty Members

On 30 January, Paula Krebs, the executive director of the MLA, testified at a Committee on Higher Education and Committee on Civil Service and Labor hearing on contingent labor issues at the City University of New York (CUNY).

Krebs recognized the efforts of the City University of New York to address inequities in working conditions for part-time faculty members through its pilot program for multiyear appointments for adjuncts as well as new CUNY contracts, which recognize the office hours and professional development hours of part-time faculty members. These are an important step in the right direction, but she emphasized that much more needs to be done. 

Krebs spoke to the specific issues faced by faculty members in language and literature departments, which rely heavily on non-tenure-track faculty members. She noted that, as of fall 2017, just 43 percent of college and university courses offered in language and literature were taught by tenure-track faculty members. The rest of the courses are taught by teachers who do not have the job security or protections that come with tenure and who often face last-minute cancellations of their classes. This creates income insecurity, forcing instructors to juggle jobs to make ends meet. Moreover, when these faculty members are denied a long-term commitment from the university, they cannot make a long-term investment in their students, as mentors and advisers, compromising students’ experience as well as retention rates.

The MLA, Krebs noted, strongly advocates for more equitable hiring practices, contracts, and compensation of part-time faculty members and for making every effort to convert an optimal number of part-time positions to full-time—preferably tenure-track—positions. Read Krebs’s full testimony and the MLA recommendations she discussed, including the MLA’s “Statement on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members,” “Final Report of the MLA Committee on Professional Employment,” and recommendations on per-course compensation.