The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Adjunct instructors feel pay cut woes

By Kenney Kost/editor-in-chief

Adjunct instructors have seen their hours cut from four classes to three during regular semesters and have now been informed summer workloads will be cut from four classes to two.

TR adjunct history instructor Leah Tarwater and NE adjunct history instructor James Withers expressed their concerns to the board of trustees during the March 20 meeting, speaking up for more than 1,200 adjuncts around the district.

“If I am allowed to teach only two classes this summer rather than four, I will see a pay cut of approximately $4,368,” Tarwater said. “As a mother of a 2-year-old and an 11-month-old, this money could buy 125 boxes of diapers or 150 cans of formula. It could pay seven health insurance premiums, eight student loan payments or six mortgage payments, and this cut is very real for a group of people who do not make much money.”

Administrators decided to withhold the policy change regarding summer semesters until next year, said NE vice president for academic affairs Gary Smith.

“We have already reduced the hours for the long-term,” Smith said. “We intended to go to the new system this summer. However, since many students have already begun making plans for summer courses, we decided to hold off for this summer so students can be assured the course they enroll in will be there.”

Smith said the main reason behind the change is the Affordable Care Act.

“It all started with Obamacare defining the workweek as being 30 hours,” he said. “We have to keep adjuncts at half the regular load. Now, mini-mesters are going to have to be considered as part of the summer load. Next year, we will have to make that policy change.”

Withers, who teaches three courses at TCC and three online courses for Columbia College, said she was concerned.

“Columbia pays a lot better, but I love TCC,” he said. “My understanding is that adjunct faculty will be limited to two courses per term. That’s disastrous. Now for me, I can simply retire. But there are a lot of young people. My son is just beginning his career as adjunct faculty with TCC and his monthly pay is $1,000. Take out taxes and it’s about $900.”

Withers explained that he pays his son’s house payment and other things for him.

“He is even thinking about food stamps,” he said. “We’re entering a situation where [an adjunct] faculty [member] is going to have to take a job at McDonalds flipping burgers, and their boss is going to be one of their students. It’s a catastrophe.”

Another concern for Tarwater is that adjuncts were given no explanation for the cut.

“It is suspected that the Affordable Care Act is the reason for this, but there is simply no communication between administration and adjunct instructors,” she said.

Tarwater said she wonders why there is not a full-time employee who serves as a liaison for adjunct instructors.

“Someone who could be their advocate and voice but also communicate with them about issues such as this,” she said. “Regardless, if you make a decision that impacts 65 percent of your faculty, you should communicate this to them.”

While student enrollment increases, Tarwater said the number of full-time positions isn’t.

“Enrollment at Trinity River has increased from 3,717 to 8,449, yet we have not seen the creation of one single full-time faculty position since the college was opened five years ago, all while several administrative positions have been created at this campus,” she said.

While administrators are involved in student success to a degree, Tarwater said quality faculty is the driving force.

“If this institution is about students, then why are we more concerned with creating administrative positions rather than faculty positions?” she asked. “With no prospect of full-time employment, many of us will have to leave jobs we love in higher education. What impact will this have on your students?”

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