(Attention Mayor Curatone, quite frankly its non of your damn business. – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)
Wal-Mart is planning on developing a retail supermarket in Somerville. Today’s Globe reports that Somerville Mayor Joseph Curatone has “deep concerns about Wal-Mart’s labor policies that must be addressed before we can support them moving into our community.” http://www.boston.com/business…
That’s similar to the type of rhetoric that we are hearing from Boston Mayor Tom Menino about Wal-Mart’s plans to open a superstore in Dorchester.
One wonders, however, why these public servants are not concerned about labor practices that are far worse than those employed by Wal-Mart by employers that are already here.
I’m not talking about mom and pop operations. I’m talking about the way that the region’s major universities-Northeastern, BU, Northeastern, UMass and the like-treat contingent faculty.
Where are Tom Menino and Joseph Curatone when it comes to how institutions in their communities treat adjunct faculty?
Adjunct faculty are at the bottom of the academic food chain but they do most of the real work in higher education. I’m talking classroom teaching. Half of all classroom instruction in today’s colleges and universities is done by adjuncts. Seventy percent of the instructors on college and university faculties are adjuncts.
Adjuncts are miserably paid and are lucky to receive any benefits at all. As noted in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal book review section:
An adjunct instructor teaching six courses may earn less than $20,000 a year; an adjunct teaching only three credits short of a full-time position may have to pay more than 20% of his salary to join the university’s least expensive health-care program. One administrator noted that “Wal-Mart is a more honest employer of part-time employees than are most colleges and universities” and admitted that adjunct teachers are a “highly educated working poor.” Meanwhile, tenured professors at many universities, often with shockingly light teaching loads, enjoy six-figure salaries, summers of freedom and sabbatical years that are, again, unduplicated in the rest of the economy.
The Globe reports that the average compensation at Wal-Mart is $13.18 an hour. On a full-time basis, that’s 30% more than the hypothetical adjunct cited above. Where’s the justice?
And workers at Wal-Mart at least have the potential for promotion. In higher education, contingent faculty have no such opportunity. In her book, The Faculty Lounges, Naomi Schaefer Riley reports that a survey of university department chairs found that only 3 percent would even consider hiring an adjunct for a regular faculty position. http://www.amazon.com/Faculty-…
Similar horror stories regarding the treatment of contingent faculty and its deleterious effect on higher education appear in Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreyfus’ recent work http://www.amazon.com/Higher-E… and In the basement of the Ivory Tower by Professor X. http://www.amazon.com/Basement…
So why do Curatone and Menino engage in puffery about Wal-Mart while giving a pass to large employers already in their community whose labor practices are worse than that of the large retailer. I wonder.