Many people in our community will be astonished to find out that three-quarters of the professors at Miami-Dade and Broward Colleges work for poverty-level wages, wait each semester to find out whether we’ll be re-hired and are forced to accept only part-time status. We have no access to a health plan and are offered no social security (just a second-rate retirement plan that hardly increases and is never enough to retire on.)
All this, although we have the same professional qualifications and teach the same subjects as full-time professors. As a result, we live a precarious financial existence which forces us to supplement our income with other work or to depend on a spouse, parent or sibling throughout our career.
This is probably not the image you have of a college professor. Therefore, adjunct professors at Miami-Dade and Broward Colleges are organizing for better pay and working conditions.
We are seeking contracts with the colleges to provide regular pay increases, continuity of employment and the ability to advance in our careers. We want to at least be able to pay into the existing college health plan. We are asking for pay for each class that we teach that is commensurate with the amount full-time professors receive for their instructional duties.
Is there a solution? Yes. The colleges should offer equal pay for equal work. The Boards of Trustees should insist that adjunct professors are given fair pay and benefits for the work we do. The Florida Legislature should finally agree to allocate sufficient funds to the colleges for adjunct pay and benefits. Then we can turn our full attention, as we would prefer, to educating students, advising them and giving them the time that they deserve from their professors in higher education.
Alice Wujciak is a former adjunct professor of Broward College.