That Petition You’ve Been Hearing So Much About

Can we convince David Weil of the US Department of Labor to investigate working conditions, adjunct (mis)treatment, and student learning conditions in higher ed? So far, 1,705 (and counting) people hope so. Remember, anyone can sign it. Anyone.

The petition I cowrote with nine fellow activists is going strong. This time last week, we’d just starting getting signatures. Now, we’re approaching 2,000 signatures faster than any of us thought possible a week ago. A big, big thanks to such tireless retweeters as Victoria Scott, New Faculty Majority, Citizen Academic, and Fabián Banga.

Reporter Justin Peligri just wrote a great piece for USA TODAY College, as did a reporter for Inside Higher Ed. We’ve also gotten some nice write-ups from fellow activists (say, here and here), as well as a short piece on Daily Nous.  We’re hoping for more media attention in the next few weeks–including, we hope, some photo ops when some of us hand-deliver the letter to Labor. The more attention, the better.

What’s next? Why do all these signatures and news stories matter?

Ultimately, we want the petition to initiate an investigation into what many of us know: American higher education is broken, and students are being hurt by it. We don’t need another overpaid provost or deanlet to talk about a “strategic plan,” “vision for the 21st century,” or “flipped classrooms.” We need fairly paid, fairly treated professors for our college students. We need equitable, stable working conditions for university faculty and staff. We need strong, stable learning conditions for university students.

In the shorter term, our plan is to hand-deliver the petition to David Weil, as well as try to get the attention of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. (Know a staffer for someone on that committee? Let me know.) We need the might and resources of a government department on our side. University administrations need to know that all is not well in their kingdoms, and that a lot of smart, engaged, and energetic people are unhappy.

We don’t want this petition to be one of those things you sign, share, and forget about. We want it to be the start of something great. A lot of you have helped us so far; keep doing what you can for the petition, our goals, adjunct professors, and–ultimately–our students.

4 thoughts on “That Petition You’ve Been Hearing So Much About

  1. ngreenh1

    Mr. Fruscione,

    I love what you have written about adjunct instructors. I also support your petition to get David Weil to investigate adjunct working conditions.

    I am an adjunct instructor at a small college. As my workload has increased (though I am still an adjunct), I have become increasingly concerned by the wage theft that is clearly happening. I am teaching 14 credit hours and work 40 hours a week for one institution. I only get paid, of course, for those 14 hours.

    I have a law degree, so I have been doing legal research on employment law, trying to figure out what adjuncts can do. I appreciate your idea of the petition, but I feel like more direct action might also be taken. For example, adjuncts might need to start agitating in their state court systems and state regulatory systems, forcing the courts and regulators to determine whether institutions are incorrectly classifying adjuncts as independent contractors.

    I was wondering if you knew anyone who was working this angle. Building the case for direct action. Are their legal experts studying the issue? If you know anyone who would like to talk to a young legal mind that is interested in the issue, please let me know.

    Thank you,
    Nathaniel

    Reply
    1. The Consulting Editor Post author

      All good points, Nathaniel. Thank you for bringing them up.

      The Department of Labor essentially turned down our petition to investigate the rampant wage theft in higher ed, citing teachers as somehow exempt from the hourly wage system.

      Look up New Faculty Majority: they’re doing some lobbying and working the legal angle. They’re on Twitter. Find me on Twitter, too: @PrecariCorps.

      In the meantime, tell as many professors, students, students’ parents, friends, etc. about your situation. Share stories, too, with my @PrecariCorps handle. We spread all kinds of Adjunct True Stories.

      Reply

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