Adjunct Faculty Need Fair Treatment in Implementation of the New Federal Healthcare Law

This is a re-post from the “On the Issues” blog of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education []


When the new healthcare law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, takes effect in 2014, large employers will be required to provide healthcare benefits to employees who work over 30 hours a week.

Concerns are already being raised that unscrupulous  employers will simply reduce the hours of employees to get around this law—delivering a double-whammy to workers in the form of reduced pay and denied healthcare coverage.

Exactly how contingent faculty members (or adjuncts, as they are sometimes called), who make up almost three-fourths of faculty in this country, will fare under the new law is not clear since these faculty are usually paid not by the hour but by the course.

Will unscrupulous administrators reduce their courses (and their pay) to get around the law?  Will they define the number of hours faculty work outside of class in ways that keep them below the 30 hour threshold for coverage?

A number of organizations who represent college faculty have raised these concerns with the IRS, the Department of Education, and other government agencies.

For organization statements, testimony, and further information on the issue, see the following:

New Faculty Majority:

American Federation of Teachers:

National Education Association: (pp. 2-5) and

American Association of University Professors:

United Steel Workers:!documentDetail;D=IRS-2013-0001-0271

SEIU Local 500:

11 thoughts on “Adjunct Faculty Need Fair Treatment in Implementation of the New Federal Healthcare Law

  1. Thank you for providing these resources. In California, instructors at community colleges have a 9-credit cap ( 3 courses or 60 percent of full-time) per semester per college; however, most instructors teach at two or sometimes three different colleges, and their combined work load is equivalent to a full-time workload. Do you know how these adjunct instructors would fit into the guidelines for the Affordable Health Care Act?

  2. I’m concerned that Academe Blog is becoming just a reposting platform, thanks to the efforts of Martin Kich. Does he have no thoughts of his own? Half the things he posts are ones I’ve already read from the original sources.

    The polite way to use someone else’s material on a blog is to point to their blog, then provide some commentary of your own in response, indicating that you have thought about it and can amplify or rebut some of it. Just copying other people’s posts is rather pointless, especially if it stops people from going to the original source.

    I certainly ding students for copying material from others, even if they provide citations, if they add nothing of their own. I would expect Academe Blog to have similarly high standards. Or is this going to be just a reblogging collector, in which case I might as well unsubscribe?

    • So you take a cheap shot–“Does he have no thoughts of his own? Half the things he posts are ones I’ve already read from the original sources”–and then you lecture me on the “polite way” of doing things? That’s pretty rich.

      And really, you have read most of the re-posts in their original sources? I have long subscribed to and received daily updates from many online sources, but I have greatly expanded my subscriptions to and my reading of such sources since I began to post more regularly to this blog. Each day I find far more items of interest than I could ever possibly use in any way. How unfortunate that those that I have re-posted have so often been the very things that you have already read. I suppose, then, that we will have to start to assume that readers visit the Academe Blog only after having read almost every other online source available to them.

      Despite your assertion to the contrary, I believe that the majority of my posts have included “original thought”: that is, they have either been largely original commentaries or they have provided remarks on other published items in the way that you describe as desirable.

      My simple re-posts have largely consisted of “open letters” from academic organizations or speeches to academic audiences by public figures, the “On the Issues” posts from the CFHE, and trivia items from Futility Closet re-posted with the acknowledged permission of the publisher of that site.

      The “open letters” and speeches are in the public domain. I have found them of interest or even provocative, and I have obviously thought that others who had not already come across them might find them to be of equal interest.

      Regarding the CFHE posts, I have been involved in the organization since its inception. The AAUP actively supports it, and I am trying to help to promote it. In addition, I serve on the communication committee that collectively drafts and edits these posts, and we have explicitly encouraged faculty to re-post them on blogs and websites and to submit them as op-eds to newspapers and other media with an online presence: that is, we want to use them to spread the word about the CFHE’s existence and its concerns and to gather support for its positions on the current, most pressing issues in higher education. If you do already subscribe directly to the CFHE’s “On the Issues” blog, then you should be aware that it does not necessarily reach the same readers or even as many readers as this blog does.

      The items from Futility Closet are a personal indulgence. I love this sort of thing. Aaron Barlow, who manages the blog, has given me some leeway in what I post. If you think that he has given me too much leeway on some things, you are entitled to your opinion. But he has not given me any indication that he shares your misgivings.

      The readership of the blog has been increasing, and my posts seem to have contributed to that growth. In fact, three of the ten posts that I have made that have received the largest number of hits have been re-posts: a wonderful editorial written by a former student of mine, framed by very minimal comments from me; Robert Meister’s “open letter” to Daphne Kohler of Coursera,; and Jon Lovett’s commencement address. So, obviously, a fairly large number of subscribers have found at least those re-posts to be of interest.

      Moreover, on most days on which I have made these re-posts, I have also tried to “balance” them by providing posts with a good deal of original thought or content.

      But I make no claim that everything that I have posted will be of equal interest. In fact, I think that my posts taken together are actually fairly typical in the variety of topics that I have covered and the variety of types of items, or forms, represented..

      So I find your recurring references to academic standards rather puzzling. A blog post is something quite different than any kind of academic writing. I have never posted something from somewhere else without acknowledging its source. But, beyond that, although I have enjoyed doing this kind of writing–and despite your suggestion to the contrary, I have spent a great deal of time on some of the pieces that I have posted–I consider this writing professional service, not scholarship. At most, I would include the pieces that are not simple re-posts with other incidental writing that I have done–contributions of articles and reviews to non-academic periodicals and online publications, which I would certainly distinguish from my formal scholarship and even my creative writing.

      Although my scholarly publications and creative publications might very well be described as being more numerous than truly impressive, I do believe that my record of publication allows me to assert with some justification that I don’t require tips on basic conventions from readers of this blog.

      Nonetheless, if you truly find my posts so annoying, let me suggest that, instead of unsubscribing to the whole blog, you simply delete my posts when the announcements appear in your e-mail.

      I would hate to think that in trying to contribute to the growth of this blog, I had driven any reader to such levels of distraction that he or she unsubscribed.

      • You’re right, my comment was rude. I apologize.

        Perhaps it is just my age, but I find the practice of “reblogging” a bit distasteful, even when the original authors allow or encourage it. I much prefer pointers with quotes and commentary (your later post today was much more in the style I prefer) to just copying things from one place to another on the internet.

        I think that you would do CFHE better service by pointing to their postings and encouraging people to subscribe to them than by selective repostings.

        As an AAUP member, I’ve been reading Academe Blog for a while, and I find it of mixed quality—some very good posts, some mediocre ones. The sudden influx of reblogging seems to be mostly your doing, and I think it does not improve the blog.

      • Thank you for the apology. But, in truth, your “rude” comment was very mild compared to the great majority of the critical comments that I have received in response to my posts. And I responded at length to your comment because there is something substantive in it to respond to. As a pointed contrast, my posts on guns on campus seem to have been re-posted to some gun-rights sites, and most of the reader responses to those posts have never gone beyond personal insults that are much richer in obscenities than in thought. (I have an extended comment on this in a postscript to a post called “The Simple Logic of Self-Defense”:

        The CFHE posts that I have re-posted are almost always very concise commentaries on articles that have appeared elsewhere and are then linked to. Since the CFHE posts are so concise, it is very difficult to abbreviate them further and yet feel that one is enticing readers to follow a link to them. And they also cover a broad range of topics that presumably will not be of equal interest to everyone. So I re-post them in “full” in the hope that readers may respond to this or that post with enough interest to follow the link to the CFHE site, to look at past posts, and to become more fully informed about the organization.

        Since you have noted your personal preferences regarding blogs, one of the things that I personally find maddening is a blogger’s pointing to something online as being of great interest and my then finding that either the link to the piece is faulty or the item has been removed from the Web. Since there are no rules governing online publishing, some items seem remain online forever while others disappear quickly and sometimes, it seems, very arbitrarily. I have gone to “resource sites” for the humanities or on literary topics only to discover that two-thirds of the links no longer work. Since everything on the Academe Blog remains online and is eventually indexed by Google, full re-posts of things such as speeches by public figures seem prudent because the sites of political groups seem to be among the most transitory. Even long-term legislators create new sites or substantially revamp their sites for each new political campaign.

        I will add that it is also a personal preference to have fewer links in a piece, rather than more. I find it especially maddening when I go to a piece that promises to synthesize elements of several sources and in the space of a sentence or short paragraph links me to a half-dozen different sites. In effect, the blogger is not providing a synthesis but is, instead, expecting me, the reader, to do the synthesis.

  3. You say “po-tay-to” and I say “po-tah-to”, You ask “will unscrupulous administrators reduce their courses (and their pay) to get around the law?” I ask “will honest, law-abiding administrators reduce their courses (and their pay), as allowed by law, to minimize the extra costs resulting from the law, in full conformance with the law, thereby acting as responsible stewards for their institutions?”

    That many companies would (legitimately!) change work schedules and hours to minimize their costs was entirely predictable. This is the great lesson that conservatives keep hoping that progressives will learn: incentives matter and people change their behavior in rational, foreseeable ways in response to changing situations.

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