Here’s a letter that I sent today to Prof. Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP):
Dear Prof. Nelson:
In the mass e-mail that you sent on Thursday to us college professors, you brag of how your organization, AAUP, is working to end “at-whim employment” of adjunct and other part-time professors. You want all such professors to be dismissable only “with cause.”
Sounds noble. You will, however, pardon my skepticism.
If you make the dismissal of adjunct professors more difficult, you’ll thereby raise colleges’ costs of hiring adjuncts. As a result, fewer adjuncts will be hired. So it’s doubtful that your efforts will help the very persons whose well-being you claim to champion.
What is clear, though, is that success at increasing the cost of hiring adjunct professors will benefit those of us who work as full-time faculty. Because adjuncts compete with full-time faculty, making adjuncts more costly to hire will raise the demand for, and hence raise the salaries of, full-time faculty. It will also prompt colleges to hire greater numbers of full-time faculty. Each of these consequences benefits us full-timers, both by fattening our wallets and by improving our access to full-time scholars in our fields.
But our windfall will be paid for by unemployed part-time faculty – and by students and taxpayers who’ll have to foot the bill for the resulting higher cost of supplying classroom instruction.
Donald J. Boudreaux