Recommendations and Reports on Contingency from the MLA

In this entry, I will discuss the following MLA recommendations and reports on contingency:

“MLA Recommendation on a Minimum Wage for Full-Time Entry-Level Faculty Members.” MLA, May 2017, https://www.mla.org/Resources/Research/Surveys-Reports-and-Other-Documents/Staffing-Salaries-and-Other-Professional-Issues/MLA-Recommendation-on-a-Minimum-Wage-for-Full-Time-Entry-Level-Faculty-Members.

“MLA Recommendation on Minimum Per-Course Compensation for Part-Time Faculty Members.” MLA, May 2017, https://www.mla.org/Resources/Research/Surveys-Reports-and-Other-Documents/Staffing-Salaries-and-Other-Professional-Issues/MLA-Recommendation-on-Minimum-Per-Course-Compensation-for-Part-Time-Faculty-Members.

“MLA Statement on the Use of Part-Time and Full-Time Adjunct Faculty Members.” MLA, February 1994, https://www.mla.org/Resources/Research/Surveys-Reports-and-Other-Documents/Staffing-Salaries-and-Other-Professional-Issues/MLA-Statement-on-the-Use-of-Part-Time-and-Full-Time-Adjunct-Faculty-Members.

“Professional Employment Practices for Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members: Recommendations and Evaluative Questions.” Contingent, June 2011, https://contingent.mla.hcommons.org/professional-employment-practices-for-non-tenure-track-faculty-members-recommendations-and-evaluative-questions/.

“Statement on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members.” MLA, 2003-2004, https://www.mla.org/Resources/Research/Surveys-Reports-and-Other-Documents/Staffing-Salaries-and-Other-Professional-Issues/Statement-on-Non-Tenure-Track-Faculty-Members.

These open access documents on the MLA website and Contingent are all important resources for faculty interested in making improvements in the working conditions of their home institutions. Concise and direct, these documents can help faculty writing reports in favor of improving conditions to fill in the local context. The remainder of this post provides brief summaries of key ideas.

“Minimum Wage for Full-Time Entry-Level Faculty Members”

This brief document contains two paragraphs—one paragraph of context and then one paragraph that consists of the recommendation. Here is the key recommendation:

“The minimum salary for full-time appointments at the entry level should be at least $64,000 for those at the rank of instructor and at least $72,000 for those at the rank of beginning assistant professor” (par. 2).

The report notes that cost of living in different regions is not accounted for in these recommendations (par. 2).

“Minimum Per-Course Compensation for Part-Time Faculty”

This report “recommends minimum compensation for 2017–18 of $10,700 for a standard 3-credit-hour semester course or $7,200 for a standard 3-credit-hour quarter or trimester course” (par. 2).

Leading up to this recommendation, the report acknowledges that the salary may need to be higher based on factors such as details of the workload, additional duties, and years of experience (par. 1).

“The Use of Part-Time and Full-Time Adjunct Faculty Members”

The opening paragraph makes a good point that over-reliance on contingent academic labor, whether part-time or full-time, “undermines professional and educational standards and academic freedom” (par. 2). The inequitable treatment of part-time faculty undermines their professionalism (par. 4). The report recommends that reliance on contingent academic labor should be limited and that tenure line positions should be favored (par. 8).

Guidelines for hiring and renewing contingent academic labor should be comparable to tenure line faculty (par. 9). Contingent academic labor should also receive “mailboxes, office space, and clerical support” (par. 9). Basic benefits should be a part of their conditions of employment (par. 9). Professional development opportunities should be available to contingent faculty, and they should have a role in shared governance (par. 9).

“Professional Employment Practices for Non-Tenure-Track Faculty”

The document is broken into five categories, with questions designed to help departments to evaluate how well they are treating non-tenure track faculty. It would be a good document to read in tandem with Daniel Davis’s recent book Contingent Academic Labor: Evaluating Conditions to Improve Student Outcomes.

The five categories covered include the following:

  • Hiring and Assessment
  • Compensation and Professional Advancement.
  • Professional Rights and Responsibilities
  • Professional Development and Recognition
  • Integration into the Life of the Department and the Institution

The questions under each category are direct and address key issues related to the treatment of contingent academic labor. It would be quite interesting to pose the same questions throughout to administrators, tenure line faculty, and contingent academic labor for the purpose of comparing responses.

“Statement on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members”

This document from 2003-2004 is concerned with the ethical treatment of non-tenure track faculty members (par. 2). Its focus is primarily on full-time non-tenure track faculty rather than adjuncts. Putting as many non-tenure track faculty on the tenure track will bring the greatest benefit to the profession and the university (par. 3).

The MLA recommends that post-docs should be limited to two years (par. 6).

For non-tenure track full-time faculty, long term contracts are important (par. 8, bullet 1). The MLA recommends three-year contracts initially and then eligibility for longer contracts after six years (par. 8, bullet 1). Non-tenure track faculty should be considered as competitive for tenure track openings (par. 8, bullet 3). Other recommendations are reiterated in later MLA documents covered in this post.

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