If you’ve talked to me about academic labor politics for more than 2 or 3 minutes, you probably know that I’ve become something of an evangelist about contingent labor in the last couple of years. It would be fair, I think, to accuse me of speaking with the righteousness of the converted, although that conversion–in my estimation–took about a decade longer than it should have.
I have also been writing, on and off over the last few years, about ways to expand our conception of shared governance to include populations that will help pressure management to cede back to faculty, and the communities we serve, at least a reasonable share of authority over our working conditions and areas of expertise.
Enter today’s (Monday, Nov 14) Chronicle of Higher Ed, featuring a story about an AAUP panel recommending that contingent faculty have access to shared governance just like regular full-time faculty on their campuses. For the record, these are draft recommendations; the final version isn’t on any official timetable.
Intuitively, this makes perfect sense to me. Anybody who has a stake in a policy should have something meaningful to say about whether the policy gets established and what it does. And, intuitively it makes sense to me that contingent faculty are a lot more likely to be policy allies than managers are, at least about most things most of the time.
There are criticisms coming from fulltime faculty, none of which is surprising, but no less galling (in my personal opinion) for their predictability. I won’t even give them the airtime by repeating them. Read them if you want. What they all boil down to is this: “We hate the exploitation of contingent faculty until altering the structure of academic labor costs us something.”
That’s not good enough.