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Professors in the Gig Economy

, 240 pages

5 charts

April 2018



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Professors in the Gig Economy

Unionizing Adjunct Faculty in America

One of the most significant trends in American higher education over the last decade has been the shift in faculty employment from tenured to contingent. Now upwards of 75% of faculty jobs are non-tenure track; two decades ago that figure was 25%. One of the results of this shift—along with the related degradation of pay, benefits, and working conditions—has been a new push to unionize adjunct professors, spawning a national labor movement. Professors in the Gig Economy is the first book to address the causes, processes, and outcomes of these efforts.

Kim Tolley brings together scholars of education, labor history, economics, religious studies, and law, all of whom have been involved with unionization at public and private colleges and universities. Their essays and case studies address the following questions: Why have colleges and universities come to rely so heavily on contingent faculty? How have federal and state laws influenced efforts to unionize? What happens after unionization—how has collective bargaining affected institutional policies, shared governance, and relations between part-time and full-time faculty? And finally, how have unionization efforts shaped the teaching and learning that happens on campus?

Bringing substantial research and historical context to bear on the cost and benefit questions of contingent labor on campus, Professors in the Gig Economy will resonate with general readers, scholars, students, higher education professionals, and faculty interested in unionization.

Contributors: A. J. Angulo, Timothy Reese Cain, Elizabeth K. Davenport, Marianne Delaporte, Tom DePaola, Kristen Edwards, Luke Elliott-Negri, Kim Geron, Lorenzo Giachetti, Shawn Gilmore, Adrianna Kezar, Joseph A. McCartin, Gretchen M. Reevy, Gregory M. Saltzman, Kim Tolley, Nicholas M. Wertsch

Kim Tolley is a professor of education at Notre Dame de Namur University. She is the author of Heading South to Teach: The World of Susan Nye Hutchison, 1815–1845 and The Science Education of American Girls: A Historical Perspective.

"A timely and important book on the dramatic rise in contingent faculty labor, the broader impact it is having on institutions of higher learning, and the union organizing responses of college faculty, Professors in the Gig Economy should receive the attention of academics, policymakers, and the general public."

"Professors in the Gig Economy is a call to action. By way of data, historiography, case research, and anecdote, the authors demonstrate the challenges that exist for adjunct faculty and for academe. For those of us who care about academe and those who work in it, the book offers the ingredients to think about what the correct recipe should be for solving a critical problem."

"Kim Tolley brings together a group of superb scholars across disciplinary perspectives to discuss one of the most important issues in the ever-shifting world of academe: adjunct faculty members. For far too long, adjunct faculty have been ignored, kicked to the side, and forgotten, even as their ranks increase. Professors in the Gig Economy places them front and center and explores their history and role in the academy."

"Professors in the Gig Economy has brought together a superb scholarly team whose respective chapters analyze how contingent faculty have come to be center stage in American higher education. They play a role that will increase in significance, size, and complexity—and up to now has been sorely understudied or ignored. This anthology provides a much-needed multidisciplinary exploration of unionization and other issues dealing with the academic profession as part of a significant change in the nation’s institutions and economy."

"Overreliance on adjunct faculty presents the greatest challenge to academic freedom and educational quality today. Through illustrative case studies, these essential and informative essays demonstrate how unionization can play a pivotal part in addressing the problem, while uniquely highlighting how tenure-track professors and adjuncts can and do work successfully together."

"Professors in the Gig Economy is a compelling collection of histories and case studies of adjunct faculty unionization. This book is a valuable resource and essential reading for anyone interested in the new faculty majority that defines the new higher education economy."

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