Tenured Radical sure has changed her tune since last she wrote about faculty salaries at her college. Here’s TR back in December of 2008, defending her uni’s plan to freeze faculty salaries as a strategy for surviving the Great Recession:
Isn’t letting the administration get away with a salary freeze just lying down and letting them walk all over us? No, keeping your trap shut, repressing your anger at how you are treated, not disagreeing with anyone who might ever vote on your promotion, and never saying or writing anything you believe until you have a tenure letter in your pocket is letting people walk all over you. Agreeing to a salary freeze, when it is explained as part of a well-reasoned plan is sticking out your hand and playing your role as a partner in the enterprise.
Go re-read the whole thing–it’s difficult to excerpt, but the bottom line is that she thought that faculty, who are relatively well paid and enjoy incomparable job security after tenure, should stop whining and lend a hand. Well, it’s now nearly two years later, and here’s where she is:
At age 52, I make slightly more than 107K, 16K less than the median salary at my rank at Zenith and, adjusted for inflation and health insurance, less than I made three years ago. The actual number of my salary tells you little, since I am quite sure that salaries vary wildly at Zenith and that I make more than some people who have worked there for longer (colleagues are invited to contribute their own salaries, anonymously if they wish, in the comments section.) What I also know is that we don’t get meaningful raises any more, and that it seems unlikely that the wage gap will be closed except through the retirement and departure of better paid colleagues. Two years ago, Zenith finally locked on to what the public and state schools have known for a long time: pay your faculty less, and there isn’t a damned thing they can do about it. Year before last, we received no raises; last year I was pretty much at the top of the chart at slightly less than 2%; and this year’s overall pool will only be increased by 2%.
. . . . . . . . .
The only way to make more money is to work more: we now have multiple opportunities to teach more classes, and be paid adjunct wages to do so. This is called, for those of you unfamiliar with labor history, “speed up.” The idea is this: the university needs more revenue, so regular faculty teach an extra class in our extension program, for which everybody in the class has paid $2,130. Regular Zenith students pay $2600 for summer courses, plus a housing charge for dorm space that would otherwise be vacant. The faculty stipend for any of these courses is around 6K (which is about 1K more than an ABD adjunct wage at Zenith and 2K less than what grad students are paid for their own courses at Oligarch); there are 15-20 people in the class. You do the math here: are Zenith faculty being paid a fair wage for this work? No. They are being paid a market wage — and, my guess is, twice what adjuncts at the local state schools are paid. And yet, increasingly, faculty are getting squeezed into doing this as their salaries flat line.
Here’s the bottom line: I am not unsympathetic to the financial problems in higher education, or to the important restructuring that is long overdue at my own institution. But I refuse to sell myself for less; I refuse to sell myself for less than I am worth; I refuse to contribute to the casualization of academic labor; and I refuse to do what is essentially volunteer work for my employer.
Yep. This is where a lot of regular faculty are right now. I’ve noticed the growth of a kind of resignation in my department among the tenured faculty: why rush to get that second book out and go up for promotion–there’s no money in it? We’re all turning into Alfred E. Neumans captioned by “What–me bother?” We’re not inclined to line up for volunteer work, friends–not in a world where there are no raises, and the workload for regular faculty has increased because we can’t hire new colleagues. That’s Baa Ram U.’s fix for our budget troubles: no raises since ’08, the caps on our classes have been raised (from 40 to 44 in upper-divsion undergraduate classes), and the service burden is heavier because we keep losing faculty to retirement and other unis, so the same workload just gets shifted around to fewer people. This year, my department has more adjunct faculty and “special” (non-tenure track) lecturers than regular faculty teaching in our department. The casualization of labor in my department is a fait accompli.
Interestingly, back in 2008 Tenured Radical and Dr. Crazy were at odds, but now they’re singing from the same hymnal. (Keep reading the long comments thread–Dr. Crazy has more to say, and many of you are represented there, I’m sure!)