Monday, October 12, 2009

Things Is Tough All Over

"But Chris is secure, right?"

I don't know how many times I've heard this, now. All summer, all through the start of the choir season, people have asked this or something similar; they've asked how we're doing, and I've told them a little about the budget crisis and the terror this inspires and the carnage already wreaked across our campus and how it doesn't make for peace of mind, or else they've heard some about it already and want to know where we fall in it. And then they want to be reassured that Chris is safe. "But he's all right, isn't he? He's pretty protected? Chris is still secure, right?"

"....No," I say, like I'm apologizing. "He's not."

Chris is a lecturer--contingent. Some systems call this "adjunct." Non-tenure-line. Not even probationary. We call it "visiting" on our campus--he's been "visiting" for 11 years, now, full time (some people call lecturers "part timers," too--often tenure-line people teaching significantly fewer courses per year than a full-time lecturer does, but I digress).

In short: no tenure. No expectation of tenure. No way to get tenure.

He does have three year contracts (the grail in the CFA collective bargaining agreements): if they've kept you for six years, when they could have simply failed to rehire you without penalty beforehand, and there are no "serious conduct issues" or records of bad performance, you're automatically rolled over into three year contracts, which have, themselves, a similar expectation of being rolled over. If you're between three year contracts, you've got a lot less protection--if there's just not work, they can essentially give you a contract for no work and no pay, without actually laying you off--but there is still some protection. There's also a layoff order, and an order of preference for work, and a lot of good structure in place to make sure the contract means something, when people start getting bumped off the ranks.

But when you've already gone through the order by department--say, this department--and have dumped absolutely everyone in the first couple of groups? When the only person left with less "preference for work" than Chris has already been reduced to part time (and he was only protected by two tenure-track profs being off on sabbatical, anyway, who are going to be back next year), and there are more cuts to come...?

(As in, apparently, SEVERE cuts to come, despite the absence of a concrete budget for the next year, in what is probably a punitive, tyrannical, never-let-a-good-crisis-go-to-waste move by people with more power than the rest of us?)

Then, no. Chris is not secure.

The BEST we can hope for, at this point, is that he only get reduced to part time, next year. But for all we know, there could be nothing, as soon as Spring. 30% (...for instance) out of 10 tenure-line and 2 and a half lecturers (or 6 tenure-line and 1 and a half lecturers, depending on what we're counting as this department for these purposes) is pretty bad odds, either way, isn't it?

1 comment:

Doc Nagel said...

The good news is that we know what to expect: no work for me. Maybe that's a funny way to think of good news, but I like certainties rather than vaguenesses when it comes to the basic conditions of life. I know I need a job, I know I need to get on the market.