The High Cost. Adjunct Living: Seattle. A report by:

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1 The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A report by:

2 The Voices of Adjunct Professors In some years, I have lived with my parents. I have to use several different sources of income to generate sufficient income to stay current on student loans. Every adjunct I know is passionate about their work and their students and that is why they put up with all the crap. But, you know, we can do better...we have settled for so little in order to do what we think we are doing well. That needs to change. It doesn t make sense for someone in my position to even be thinking about retirement... These are the words of adjunct professors who struggle to make ends meet in one of the most expensive cities in the United States just to do the work they love teach.

3 Executive Summary There is a crisis in higher education. Quickly rising tuition has resulted in record levels of student debt, putting higher education out of reach for more and more working families. At the same time, universities are shifting resources away from instruction. Today, more than two-thirds of all faculty work on a contingent basis, facing low pay and no benefits or job security. Many do not even have access to basic facilities such as office space, making it increasingly difficult for adjuncts to do their best for their students. Being a university professor, once the quintessential middle-class job, has become a low-wage one. The Seattle area is no exception. Private, nonprofit colleges and universities in the Seattle market rely heavily on a contingent academic workforce; in 2011, 66 percent of faculty, or almost 2,000 employees, were not on the tenure track. All of the faculty in the area s for-profit colleges 633 faculty employees do not have access to the tenure system. Seattle is an expensive city in which to live: 21 percent higher than the U.S. average. This shift from a secure, well-compensated academic workforce to a temporary, low-paid workforce impacts the city of Seattle, surrounding communities, and the area economy where these colleges and universities are located. Seattle s cost of living is 21 percent higher than the U.S. average, which only exacerbates the financial difficulties many adjuncts face on a daily basis. Through an analysis of cost-ofliving measures and a series of interviews, this report will explore the impact casualization of academic labor has on Seattle professors and the potential impact on the economy and communities they call home. Specifically, the analysis poses the question: How many classes does an adjunct professor have to teach to afford basic cost-of-living measures housing, healthcare, food, the ability to retire? In 2011, the median pay per course in the Far West region of the US was $3,300 at master s level private not-for-profit institutions and $4,500 at doctoral level private not-for-profit institutions. This means an adjunct teaching 12 courses a year an extraordinary course load may have an annual income of just $39,600. Findings include: An adjunct professor must teach between 19 and 26 classes a year to afford a home and utilities in Seattle. An adjunct professor would need to teach up to 5 classes per year to cover the cost of groceries for a family. An adjunct professor would need to teach up to 7 classes to afford care for a heart attack at certain Seattle hospitals.

4 The increasingly contingent nature of academic labor is not an accident of history but a deliberate business model that leaves taxpayers footing the bill by depriving faculty of wages, benefits and job security and forcing them to rely on federal and state subsidized support programs like food stamps and medicare. Adjuncts also forgo saving for retirement. In many ways, the crisis in higher education mirrors the crisis in the broader economy, where jobs are increasingly low wage and part-time even while revenues and profits are increasing. Adjunct faculty are joining unions to raise standards. According to the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, unionized adjuncts report more job security and have a median pay per course that is 25 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts. This translates to campuses having a consistent and stable workforce and a more secure workforce puts less of a burden on city and county governments. Adjuncts in the Seattle area have already begun to come together to change the face of higher education in Washington. The almost 2,000 nonunion contingent faculty at nonprofit colleges and universities around Seattle can stand with more than 18,000 faculty that have already unionized with SEIU to improve higher education and improve working conditions and benefits for adjuncts in Seattle and throughout Washington.

5 Transformation of the Academic Workforce: An Overview In 2012, approximately 1.5 million teachers worked in postsecondary education in the United States. 1 Many of us think of these jobs as being filled by full-time, salaried professors who spend their days on campus educating their students, developing cutting edge research and increasing the depth of our academic knowledge. The reality is that institutions of higher education now overwhelmingly rely upon contingent academic labor: professors that are hired on a class-by-class basis, semester-to-semester with no job security, paid minimal compensation, provided no benefits, and are outside the tenure system. Faculty teaching jobs once considered a dream middle-class profession have become one of the many precarious positions redefined by the new economy. What does this transformation the casualization of the academic workforce mean? For colleges and universities, a well-paid, stable workforce is being replaced with a lower-paid workforce with no job security. For faculty, it means a dramatic decrease in quality of life and their ability to provide for their families in their chosen profession. The average annual pay in 2013 for a tenured professor at a private research university in the United States is $167, In comparison, the average pay per course reported by adjunct faculty is approximately $3, Even if an adjunct teaches eight courses per year considered a high course load that person is making just $24,000 annually with likely no benefits. The institutions of higher education in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Core Based Statistical Area rely heavily on a contingent academic workforce. In 2011, approximately 66 percent of full- and part-time employees with faculty status at four year not-for-profit institutions 4, or 1,987 faculty employees, were not on the tenure track or in the tenure system. This is an increase from 2002, when 64 percent, or 1,591 employees, at four-year not for-profit colleges and universities in the Seattle area were not on the tenure track or in the tenure system. The percentage of contingent positions over the last decade may appear to be stable and not growing, but this is only because private nonprofit colleges and universities in the Seattle area were early adopters in contingent faculty employment. In addition, there are 633 full- and part-time employees with faculty status at for-profit colleges in the Seattle region that do not have access to the tenure system; this represents 100 percent of the faculty at Seattle s for-profit colleges. 5 This contingent academic workforce at Seattle colleges and universities is also largely part-time. In Seattle, 48 percent of employees with faculty status were part time. The problem is even more pronounced at the statewide level, where 63 percent of faculty are part-time. 6 Moreover, employers are incentivized to underreport the number of part-time faculty they employ, and will often list part-time adjuncts under administrative job titles. All of the adjuncts interviewed for this white paper reported a love of teaching and students, but many expressed concern for their future and their ability to afford to continue with the job. One of the interviewees currently teaches part-time at two schools, but has taught at up to five. He has made up to $40,000 in some years, while struggling to get by in others. He said the problem is mainly the inconsistency. I don t know what to expect. Some years it seems like I haven t made very much money at all, because I haven t had enough classes at different schools or maybe even I had to decide to teach at one school rather than an another because the classes I was given conflicted in times That kind of unpredictability has affected my ability to make ends meet in basic ways. I mean, in some years, I have lived with my parents. Another interviewee compared being an adjunct to a luxury expense, volunteering, or taking a class for leisure, concluding with I don t look at it as a career. I look at it as something I am doing [as] community service I have had to frame it that way, because otherwise I feel bad about myself. And I can t live like that. The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local 925 5

6 This shift from a secure, well-compensated academic workforce to a temporary, low-paid workforce impacts the city of Seattle, surrounding communities and the area economy where these colleges and universities are located. This report will explore the impact that casualization of academic labor has on Seattle professors and the potential effects on the economy and communities they call home. Specifically, the analysis poses the question: How many classes does an adjunct professor have to teach to afford basic cost-of-living measures housing, healthcare, food, the ability to retire? 7 Transformation of the Academic Workforce: A National View Tenured, full-time faculty positions are on a steady decline. In 1969, tenured and tenure-track positions made up approximately 78.3 percent of the faculty and non tenure-track positions comprised 21.7 percent. In 2009, tenured and tenure-track faculty had declined to 33.5 percent and 66.5 percent of faculty were ineligible for tenure. 8 Share of U.S. college and university faculty by tenure, 1969 and % 90% 80% 21.7% 70% 60% 65.5% 50% 40% 30% 78.3% 20% 10% 0% 33.5% Tenured and tenure-track Non-tenure track From 1970 to 2003, the numbers of part-time faculty members in the United States increased 422 percent while full-time faculty has only increased 71 percent. 9 In 2011, part-time faculty represented 50 percent of all teaching faculty at degree-granting institutions, up from 34 percent in 1987 and 22 percent in Part-time faculty as percent of all faculty 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local 925

7 Adjunct or contingent faculty positions are often thought to be professionals that have careers outside academia, who teach a class occasionally to offer a specific expertise or experience to students, or because they want to make some extra money. Part-time teaching, however, is not a choice for many part-time faculty members. A National Study of Postsecondary Faculty report showed that more than 35 percent of part-time faculty, and half of part-time faculty in the Humanities, would have preferred a full-time position in their institutions. 11 Transformation of the Academic Workforce: Impact on the Individual In Seattle, full-time professors are paid a salary that varies widely across disciplines, but averaged between $75,050 and $101, Generally, full-time professors may teach up to five or six courses per year and spend the rest of their time developing research, serving on committees, meeting with students, advising graduate students and preparing for classes. Adjunct faculty often try to teach as many courses as possible to make enough money to pay their bills many teach six to fifteen courses per year with classes at multiple colleges. An adjunct is often paid by the course, and the median pay per course for part-time faculty members in the Far West region is $3,300 at a master s level private not-for-profit institution and $4,500 at a doctoral level private not-for-profit institution. 13 In comparison, the average tuition at a four-year not-for-profit institution in Washington was $26,475 in Despite the high cost of tuition, an adjunct could teach six courses a year and only earn $19,800 to $27,000, or 12 courses a year and only earn $39,600 to $54,000. One adjunct reported that he sometimes has to work at three schools, putting in close to 100 hours a week when factoring in grading, prep time and commuting. He recalled, That quarter when I was teaching at three institutions I think I was [making] eight bucks an hour, ten bucks an hour Some of that will go towards paying for health insurance. Or I pay for my own dental right now, and vision. That s $150 per dentist visit three times a year and there we go another 500 bucks down there. So my sixteen grand shrinks more. That quarter when I was teaching at three institutions I think I was [making] eight bucks an hour, ten bucks an hour. Contingent or adjunct faculty are rarely provided benefits. Even as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, often referred to as ObamaCare, goes into effect, colleges and universities have begun to institute new limits on adjuncts hours to avoid their responsibility for providing affordable healthcare to adjunct professors. 15 In Seattle, the majority of interviewees planned on accessing their 2014 healthcare through the new Washington Health Plan Finder. Most are eligible for Medicaid expansion through Apple Care, a free or subsidized health insurance program for low-income individuals. Adjuncts have no job security. Generally, their contracts are per term and they have to reapply for their jobs for the following term. In addition, classes can be cancelled up to the day they are scheduled to begin, and if that happens, an adjunct is often not compensated for that class or for the work they have already done to prepare for the class. One Seattle adjunct recently lost a 12-year job as a tenured faculty at a local community college because the college closed her program. She is currently an adjunct at a nonprofit university, but doesn t have a job offer for next quarter. She reported, I have not been offered a class for the Spring... I haven t heard anything about the possibility of any classes next year What I have to decide right now is whether or not I am just going to give up on all of it and just get a job. Because I am tired. And it is taking a toll on me. I am sick of it. The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local 925 7

8 Part-time professors get little support for research, scholarship or any professional development. In 2003, part-time faculty reported spending 90 percent of their time on teaching, 6.6 percent on administrative and other duties, and 3.4 percent on research. 16 The growth of the academic contingent workforce with limited time or support for research or creative work has long-term negative consequences for scholarship and the public benefit. It also negatively impacts the adjunct s professional development as it limits or prevents the possibility of professional advancement. One professor said, You want me to publish maybe? Well, I don t have access to books half the time. Or I can t go to conferences and network with colleagues Wow, you are doing this great research, we should collaborate hard to do that if we can t actually meet half the time. I don t have access to books half the time. Or I can t go to conferences and network with colleagues Wow, you are doing this great research, we should collaborate hard to do that if we can t actually meet half the time. Another spoke fondly of going to conferences in graduate school, when he had an $800 a year travel stipend, which is now zero as an adjunct. He lamented, Now I really have to weigh and say, Is it worth the $1,500 I am going to spend to have this line on my CV? And this is the game you play, right? You weigh that because you are being pressured to apply to these academic jobs, beyond your adjunct position. So you are taking your adjunct pay and investing it in this game beyond it the tenure track game. And saying, Alright, how many chips can I afford to put on this table? The $3,300 per-course payments for master s-level universities and $4,500 for doctoral-level universities are median values calculated across the entire Western U.S., but generally applicable in the Seattle area as well. It is extremely difficult to capture costs across campuses, or even within departments and programs on the same campus. Some departments, such as Music, almost universally pay less than other programs and employ a disproportionately large number of adjuncts. One of our interviews in a music department reported making $300 per credit, or about $1,200 for a fourcredit course, which her school claims to be a statewide median for university-level music training. This is one third of what other adjuncts make. She pointed out that while the lower pay may seem justified because of the small class sizes (one professor for one-to-five students), the bigger issue was that a tenure-line professor could teach the same course and make significantly more money than her or any other adjunct. Transformation of the Academic Workforce: Where do we go from here? In 2011, there were roughly 61,000 working-age people (or 17 percent of the working-age population) in Seattle making less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, ($22,980 for an individual, or $47,100 for a family of four). The number of low income working families was 31 percent. 17 Adjuncts in the Puget Sound area have decided it is time to come together to build a market-wide movement to improve compensation, benefits, job security, access to the tools and materials to do their work well, support for research and scholarship, meaningful access to academic freedom, and inclusion in the academic life and governance of their institutions. 8 The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local 925

9 Unionizing has made demonstrated improvements to the working conditions of adjuncts. In fact, median pay per course is 25 percent higher for part-time faculty represented by a union than for those that are not unionized. According to the 2012 Coalition on the Academic Workforce report, unionized part-time faculty also fare better on job security: 19 percent of unionized part-time faculty report they have some kind of job security, and 18 percent are even paid for course cancellation. In comparison, only 4 percent of nonunionized part-time faculty report having any job security, with only 10 percent reporting they receive compensation when a course is canceled. 18 Unionized adjuncts also report improved working conditions, such as increased access, support from their institution and opportunities to participate in governance. 19 In 2011, the number of low income working families was 31 percent. Nationally, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) represents 18,000 faculty, 74,000 nonfaculty higher education employees and 80,000 early childhood educators. Our adjunct faculty is organized in colleges throughout the country, from the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges to the California State University system. And we are growing with campaigns in Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, Connecticut, San Francisco, Minneapolis/St. Paul, St. Louis, the District of Columbia, Baltimore, and Seattle. In addition, the 2.2 million SEIU members and their children have a huge stake in the quality of and accessibility in education and we have a unique perspective on the challenges facing colleges and universities and an understanding that educational success depends on more than just the classroom. In the District of Columbia, SEIU Local 500 represents more than two-thirds of the adjuncts in the adjunct labor market, and has won improvements in compensation and benefits for their adjunct members. Contractually guaranteed benefits include increased job security, such as enhanced procedures for assignment and reappointment, and standards for discipline and dismissal. SEIU Local 500 has also negotiated better compensation packages, including pay increases that resulted in one department at George Washington University receiving up to a 32 percent increase. 20 The California Faculty Association (CFA) represents tenure-track and non tenure-track faculty at the California State University system and is affiliated with SEIU, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the National Education Association. CFA s contract often considered the gold standard of adjunct contracts includes increased job security, such as renewable, three-year contracts reserved for incumbents, and access to health insurance and retirement. 21 Methodology The adjunct cost-of-living index in this report assumes an adjunct is compensated at a rate of $3,300 per course or $4,500 per course. According to AAUP s Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, , 22 the median pay per course for part-time faculty members in fall 2010 was $3,300 at a master s level private not-for profit institution in the Far West region, and $4,500 at a doctoral level private not-for-profit institution in the Far West. The four-year nonprofit colleges examined in this report include bachelor s level, master s level and doctoral level institutions and so the actual rate of pay a Puget Sound adjunct is earning may be lower or higher depending on the school and the subject matter of the course. Although this report does not focus on the working conditions of adjunct professors at for-profit colleges in Seattle, it is important to note that 100 percent of the over 600 faculty members that work at for-profit colleges in the area are adjuncts working under similar conditions as those profiled in this report. 23 Interviews with adjuncts living and working in the Seattle area were done in January Adjuncts with teaching experience at six different four-year nonprofit colleges and universities in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area were interviewed. All of the colleges represented are among the 13 four-year nonprofit colleges and universities in the The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local 925 9

10 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Core Based Statistical Area. 24 In this report, full- and part-time faculty that are not on the tenure track or in the tenure system will be referred to as contingent or adjunct faculty. While our adjunct interviewees worked throughout the Puget Sound area, all lived within the greater Seattle area, meaning they all experienced the same basic costs of living. This report does not provide cost of living measures for private university adjuncts outside of the greater Seattle area, primarily because of significant differences in prices, particularly around food and housing. The majority of non-seattle adjuncts in Washington State reside in the Spokane or Walla Walla areas. While potentially more pronounced, the difficulties Seattle area adjuncts experience every day are almost certainly similar to those experienced in these other Eastern Washington markets. Further research is necessary. Academic Work in the Seattle Economy Seattle is an expensive city in which to live: 21 percent higher than the U.S. average. 25 This analysis will compare certain cost-of-living measures in Seattle with the compensation paid to adjuncts in the Seattle market. One of the interviews noted the pervasiveness of the issue saying, This is a global problem just because Seattle is such a hugely inflated city hugely inflated because of Amazon and Microsoft But most of us don t make that money. 80% of us do not make 100 grand a year. We are not lawyers. We are not Microsoft Execs. Although many adjuncts express a love for their profession, they also are concerned about the sustainability of the profession with its current conditions. One instructor said, I no longer consider teaching at college a career or profession that is viable It doesn t mean I think it is right, and it doesn t mean I wouldn t fight. Because I am one of those believers You fight evil because it is wrong, not because you are going to win. I no longer consider teaching at college a career or profession that is viable... It doesn t mean I wouldn t fight. Because I am one of those believers You fight evil because it is wrong, not because you are going to win. Academic Work and the Cost of Housing How many classes must an adjunct professor teach to afford an apartment in Seattle? Median rent in Seattle is $1,933, ranging from $1,477 in Northgate to $3,269 in Laurelhurst. 26 As the federal Office of Affordable Housing Preservation notes, households spending more than 30 percent of income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. 27 Additionally, renters in Seattle spend a median of $67 per month on utilities. 28 Seattle rent also increased six percent last year, one of the single biggest hikes in the country. 29 An adjunct professor must teach between 14 and 40 classes a year to afford rent and utilities in Seattle The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local 925

11 Many adjuncts are cost burdened by their rent, have to make trade-offs between rent and other expenditures, or are trapped in difficult situations due to unpredictable income. One interviewee lives close to his school in Seattle s expensive Capitol Hill neighborhood because he can t afford rent and a car. He reports, I pay $1,000 a month for a studio If I lived out in the suburbs then I would have to hope that I could get to school quickly enough with mass transit, because I certainly can t afford to own a car. Some of the interviewees had to find alternative, low cost living arrangements, such as taking assistance from their families. One said, Fortunately I don t pay rent because my parents take pity on their son who is a scholar and had a house they planned to retire to. I live there. Another was forced to move back in with his parents on multiple occasions due to his dramatic fluctuations in income, despite consistently teaching and working hard. He said, My parents are subsidizing me, but I am the one who is working. They are subsidizing [his employer]. It is something I m very ashamed of, actually. My parents are subsidizing me, but I am the one who is working. They are subsidizing [my employer]. It is something I m very ashmed of, actually. How many classes must an adjunct teach to afford a house in Seattle? Median home cost in Seattle is $432,900, 31 which results in monthly housing payments of $2, Owners median utilities costs are $2,944 per year. 33 An adjunct professor must teach between 19 and 26 classes a year to afford a home, including utilities, in Seattle. 34 Affordable housing was often cited as a struggle by every adjunct interviewed for this project. One Seattle adjunct said, Housing is all on my husband. I could not do this job if I did not have a husband with a job that pays a real salary My ability to work as an adjunct faculty member is on my spouse s back. Many adjuncts need to have a home office or rent studio space because they are not provided adequate space at the college or university. This is an additional, but necessary, expense that many incur to grade papers, prepare lectures or develop materials for the classes they are teaching. One reported paying for her own copying or loaning her personal music materials to students so they could copy it themselves. She did have studio space provided by the university, but described horrendous conditions, saying, I was in this horrible place that was just on the edge of campus that had no heat in my studio. I brought in space heaters myself I brought in a desk for my office. I brought in artwork because the walls were so awful I kind of made it the best I could make it on my own. I was in this horrible place that was just on the edge of campus that had no heat in my studio. I brought in space heaters myself...i brought in a desk for my office. I brought in artwork because the walls were so awful...i kind of made it the best I could make it on my own. The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local

12 Academic Work and the Cost of Groceries How many classes does an adjunct professor have to teach to afford groceries? An adjunct professor would need to teach from between one and two classes per year just to cover the cost of groceries for one person. An adjunct professor would need to teach up to between four and five classes per year to cover the cost of groceries for a family. 35 Adjuncts with small course loads may struggle to afford groceries and have to stick to stick to very tight grocery budgets. One said, You have to get creative I have exactly $100 a month to buy groceries. The only question is, Do I spend it all today? Buy all my toiletries and other stuff I think I ll need? Or use $80 today and use the other $20 to figure out random things that pop up? He added, I like to have a bit of reserve in case something goes terribly wrong and I don t get a job next year I am hoarding a lot of food in my freezer right now because I ve built in way more reserve. I try to buy a month s worth of groceries then have a month to spare. When they can buy groceries, adjuncts often find healthier choices such as locally raised, organic or less processed food almost impossible to afford. One mentioned that he often bought low quality bulk or clearance food saying, Oh, hey! It s Safeway s meat clearance sale. Oh, a day away from spoiling. I ll buy fifty pounds today at 80 percent off and freeze it all and pull stuff out as I need to make food. You have to get creative...i have exactly $100 a month to buy groceries. The only question is, Do I spend it all today? Buy all my toiletries and other stuff I think I ll need? Or use $80 today and use the other $20 to figure out random things that pop up? 12 The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local 925

13 Academic Work and the Cost of Day Care How many classes does an adjunct professor have to teach to afford day care for one child? According to reports, Washington has the ninth most expensive day care costs in the United States. 36 An adjunct professor would need to teach two to four classes a year just to cover the average cost of fulltime infant care at a child care center in Washington. An adjunct professor would need to teach two to three classes a year just to cover the average cost of fulltime care for a four-year old at a child care center in Washington. An adjunct professor would need to teach one to one to two classes a year just to cover the cost of beforeand after-school care for a school-age child at a child care center in Washington. 37 One interviewee had to hire a high school student as a babysitter after he and his wife were both offered positions teaching evening classes. They could only afford to pay $10 an hour-less than they would pay at a child care center which still added up to hundreds a month in expenses. After one quarter, they decided to never do it again saying, If you have to pay for childcare in order to teach the class, it is not quite cancelling it out, but close. Too close. Another professor with over 35 years of experience as an adjunct on the same campus thought back to when her own children were young recalling, We had to pay for daycare. I never was able to take any maternity leave or sick leave. Never got a sabbatical It was a scramble, you know to have adequate income to pay for that. Academic Work and the Cost of Transportation How many classes does an adjunct professor have to teach to afford to get around the City of Seattle? An adjunct professor would need to teach up to one class to cover the cost of automobile expenses, gasoline and a monthly metro pass. 38 Many of the adjuncts interviewed reported they could not afford to own a car, although sometimes a car was necessary to travel between campuses to teach classes. Sometimes, they turn to family or friends for transportation assistance. A struggling adjunct said, The car I drive now was a gift from my parents. They said, You can t afford a nice car. You can t even afford a decent car that runs. Another who can t afford a car takes an hour-long bus commute, then walks a mile to get from his Seattle teaching job to a second position at a for-profit school in Redmond, Washington. It would be 26 minutes by car. Academic Work and the Cost of Health and Medical Care How many classes must an adjunct teach to afford certain medical care? 39 An adjunct professor would need to teach two and seven classes to afford care for a heart attack at certain Seattle hospitals; 40 An adjunct professor would need to teach six to eighteen classes to pay for a hip replacement; 41 An adjunct professor would need to teach two to six classes to pay for a Cesarean section. 42 Most of the interviewees live in fear of experiencing a major medical emergency they can t afford. One said, The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local

14 If I got sick and my insurance didn t cover it what such savings as I have would be wiped out completely. He added, I had a colleague who did have some savings and they got sick and {snaps fingers} they spent years putting up those savings and in a few weeks gone. Others feel they have been forced to work when they should have taken time off for medical treatment or recovery, out of fear of losing their already tenuous positions and not being able to afford medical costs. One had a particularly difficult year involving multiple health issues. She said I broke my arm, I had to have surgery for cancer cells, and I had several surgeries for a mastectomy and reconstruction that year And there was no way that I could stop teaching. So I had somebody drive me to school with the broken arm. And the issue is we can t stop teaching, or the next person in line will take the job, and we will ask if we can come back, and they will say, No, we are happy with the new person. That is not a good way to live, right? How many classes does an adjunct have to teach to afford health insurance? If the adjunct professor qualifies for Washington Apple Care (the name for Washington s new Medicaid expansion program), which is available to eligible individuals with family income less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, then the adjunct will not have to pay for insurance. If they make between 138 and 300 percent of federal poverty, they will qualify for subsidized care, but would still have to teach up to two-thirds of a class to afford health insurance per adult. 43 If the adjunct professor does not qualify for subsidized care, the lowest price health insurance premium would require an adjunct professor to teach one class to cover the cost of single coverage and up to two classes per year to cover the cost of family coverage. These low premiums often come with big deductibles up to $6,000 a year before the insurance plan will cover certain services. 44 Repeatedly, interviewees pointed to paying for health insurance as one of their biggest cost concerns. One person said, I pay for my own [health insurance] because I don t have benefits Under the new Affordable Health Care Act, I am assessed at $200 for my plan per month. Even with the tax credit, I m making 16 grand, and trying to even pay $100 of that would be a good chunk out. I broke my arm, I had to have surgery for cancer cells, and I had several surgeries for a mastectomy and reconstruction that year...and there was no way I could stop teaching. So I had somebody drive me to school with the broken arm. Academic Work and the Cost of Student Debt How many classes must an adjunct teach to pay back student loan debt? The average cumulative student loan debt for individuals with a master s degree is $40,208 and $58,967 for individuals with a doctorate. 45 An adjunct professor would need to teach one to three classes per year just to cover student loan payments. 46 Many have incurred large student deb in order to further their academic careers. The average cumulative student loan debt for individuals with a master s degree is $40,208 and $58,967 for individuals with a doctorate. 47 The burden of high educational debt, which cannot be discharged through bankruptcy and can 14 The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local 925

15 follow an individual for life, hinders meaningful savings and the ability to make major purchases such as a home. One professor said, My colleagues will probably die in debt teaching students who will take on great debt as well... How do we send our own kids to university? Many of the interviewees were impacted by high student debt. One adjunct with over $100,000 in student loan debt said, It creates a burden where I must have full-time employment with benefits. This means I have to use several different sources of income to generate sufficient income to stay current on student loans. My colleagues will probably die in debt teaching students who will take on great debt as well...how do we send our own kids to university? Another has paid off her loans, but is struggling to help her children pay off theirs, which she described as a crisis. She also feels that administrators use tuition and student loans to pit students against adjuncts, quoting administrators as saying, If you want to be treated fairly in terms of getting better pay, it is going to be on the students backs, and they will have to pay higher tuition than they are already paying. She adds, So they are kind of setting us up against each other. It is absolutely wrong. Their budget should not be on our backs. They should not be on the backs of students. That is totally wrong. Academic Work and the Cost of Entertainment Adjuncts interviewed for this project talked about not being able to afford to participate in some of the leisure activities that many take for granted going to restaurants or on vacations because they could not afford the expense. One said, I can still eat out once in a while if I am careful. But most of the time I eat in because that is all I can afford. In a follow-up interview, he added, It s always interesting when you try to date someone in the Seattle area and you say, Hey, let s go out to dinner, but I can t afford to take you somewhere really nice. Let s go have Starbucks. Many adjuncts use work conferences as an opportunity to take what little leisure travel they can. One interviewee offered, Travel for me is typically connected with academia. So if I am travelling, it is to a conference But I try, when I can, to combine that with leisure travel. When asked about taking travel simply for pleasure, he responded with leisure travel is a complete luxury. Academic Work and the Cost of Retirement Although some of the nonprofit colleges and universities allow adjuncts to enroll in their retirement savings plans rarely, if ever, do colleges offer a matching contribution. Most adjuncts cannot afford to participate in any retirement savings plan. One recalled, It doesn t make sense for someone in my position to even be thinking about [retirement] because I only work year to year, and I think it can only kick in once you are here for a few years. Even then, the contributions they were talking about on a monthly or annual level were just beyond anything I could right now fathom. If I were here for five years, and had paid off my student loans, The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local

16 It doesn t make sense for someone in my position to even be thinking about [retirement] because I only work year to year...if I were here for five years, and had paid off my student loans, then I could start to think about putting money away for retirement. then I could start to think about putting money away for retirement. But right now, I live, at most, year to year. When interviewees were asked how they are preparing for retirement, most said they are not. The adjunct who was forced to move back in with his parents tried to treat it as an opportunity to save saying, During the years I lived with my parents, I have put away some savings in the bank, so I do have some savings I mean, it s not a whole lot. But he followed immediately with I don t have anything, really, for retirement. Academic Work and the Seattle Economy What does this low rate of pay mean to an adjunct living and working in Seattle? To put this in perspective, an adjunct that rents an apartment in Northgate, pays basic utilities, no cable or Internet, has one school-age child in day care, has a moderate grocery budget and owns a car and a metro pass would need to teach classes a year to cover these expenses. 48 If the adjunct professor also has to pay for family health insurance and repay his or her student debts, then the adjunct professor would need to teach up to 17 to 29 classes a year. As one adjunct summarized, Seattle is expensive to live in. Houses are expensive, renting is expensive, travel is expensive, food is expensive how do [contingent faculty] send their kids to college? Or do they just go, Oh, you are on your own kids. Good luck!? 16 The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local 925

17 The reality is, adjuncts often teach six to fifteen courses per year with classes at one to three different colleges and universities. So, how do adjuncts make ends meet? Through our interviews, we found wide-spread reliance on the lowand no-cost programs offered through Washington s various social service systems; without them, many certainly would be suffering more. Certain eligibility requirements prevent many adjuncts from qualifying for Medicaid, although many may meet the income guidelines. For example, to qualify for the Apple Care Medicaid expansion, an individual must have an income of $15,856 or less and a family of four can earn no more than $32,499 annually in If an adjunct teaches two courses a term, two terms a year and earns $3,300 per course, he or she will have an annual income of $13,200 and may qualify for Medicaid as an individual. 50 The majority of the adjuncts interviewed planned to access free or low-cost health insurance through the Health Care Exchange s Health Plan Finder website. Many felt like this would dramatically improve their access to healthcare and consistency of care, and at least one said this would be his first time with insurance in years. An adjunct could teach four courses a year and potentially qualify under the new rules. An adjunct that is the sole breadwinner in his/her family of four could teach up to nine classes and still qualify for Apple Care. 51 Seattle is expensive to live in. Houses are expensive, renting is expensive, travel is expensive, food is expensive-- how do [contingent faculty] send their kids to college? Or do they just go, Oh, you are on your own kids. Good luck!? In addition to increased usage of the healthcare safety net, a low paid academic work force may need social welfare programs to subsist. For example, to qualify for food stamps, an individual can earn no more than $1,862 per month. A single adjunct can teach one class per quarter and still qualify for food stamps. 52 Adjuncts living in Seattle may qualify for Section 8 rent vouchers if they make less than 30% of the median household income. An individual making less than $18,550 or a family of four earning less than $26,450 would qualify. An adjunct earning $3,300 per class could teach up to five classes and qualify for themselves, or eight classes and qualify for a family of four. 53 The impact of low incomes and high student debt loads may further complicate adjuncts lives and limit their spending power or their ability to save. Adjuncts have to delay or forgo home ownership and struggle when facing retirement. Many also live with significant credit card debt and high interest personal loan debt that they can t repay before interest kicks in. As one said, If some big expense comes up like one of the cars has major repairs, then we have to take out a loan or put it on the credit card, and the interest is pretty high. So it is things like that where we feel the pinch the extra expenses. One of our daughters just got married, so there was an extra expense there. We had to take out a loan and that has to be paid back. So it is the big extra things where there are really no savings. The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local

18 Conclusion The current situation at institutions of higher education is not sustainable for the adjuncts that represent 66 percent of all teaching faculty at four-year private nonprofit colleges and universities and 100 percent of all teaching faculty at for-profit colleges in the Seattle metro area. Every adjunct interviewed was aware of this and felt strongly that it needed to be fixed. As one interviewee summarized, Every adjunct I know is passionate about their work and their students and that is why they put up with all the crap. But, you know, we can do better... We have settled for so little in order to do what we think we are doing well. That needs to change. Unionization has made demonstrated improvements to the working conditions of adjuncts. According to the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, unionized adjuncts report more job security and have a median pay per course that is 25 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts. 54 While this report has focused on adjuncts struggling to survive on adjunct wages, there are those who do not. At Georgetown University, adjuncts earn approximately $5,000 per course a very different financial situation from the adjuncts profiled in this report. Georgetown adjuncts voted overwhelmingly to join SEIU Local 500 in May While unionization has the potential to improve compensation and benefits, it also provides an avenue to improve job security, ensure a voice in administration, protect academic freedom and provide a community for an atomized workforce. Adjuncts in the Seattle area have already begun to come together to change the face of higher education in the region. Professors at Pacific Lutheran University organized to form a union with SEIU Local 925, and voted on whether or not to join in October of The university has appealed the election based on religious exemption and the votes are temporarily impounded. Professors at Seattle University are currently coming together and plan to hold a union election soon. This work must continue and grow so that the approximately 2,000 nonunion contingent faculty at nonprofit colleges and universities in Seattle can stand with more than 18,000 faculty that have already unionized with SEIU to improve higher education and improve working conditions and benefits for adjuncts in Seattle and beyond. 18 The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local 925

19 End Notes 1. Occupational Employment Statistics Data: May 2012, National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States: Postsecondary Teachers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed January 8, 2014, 2. Tamar Lewin, Gap Widens for Faculty at Colleges, Report Finds, New York Times, April 8, 2013, accessed January 8, 2014, nytimes.com/2013/04/08/education/gap-in-university-faculty-pay-continues-to-grow-report-finds.html?_r=2&. 3. Audrey Williams June and Jonah Newman, Adjunct project reveals wide range in pay, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 4, 2013, accessed January 9, 2013, 4. Hereinafter, colleges and universities in the Seattle area specifically refers to all four-year not-for-profit colleges and universities in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA), as defined by the General Social Survey. The only exception to this is the inclusion of university-level data from St. Martin s University, the only four-year not-for-profit university in the South Puget Sound area. However, none of the interviewees teach at St. Martin s, and all live in the Seattle area. 5. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System: Final release data, 2011, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed December 20, 2013, Data pulled for all employees with faculty status for full-time and part-time employees. Analysis includes data provided by all participating private, for-profit colleges and universities in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue CBSA, and St. Martin s University. 6. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System: Final release data, 2011 and 2001, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed December 20, 2013, Analysis includes data provided by participating private, not forprofit four-year and above institutions in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue CBSA. 7. A cost of living index is a theoretical measurement that examines the amount a consumer needs to spend on goods and services to reach a certain standard of living over a specific amount of time or for a specific location. 8. The Changing Faculty and Student Success: National Trends for Faculty Composition Over Time, University of Southern California Rossier, Pullias Center for Higher Education, accessed January 7, 2014, Delphi-NTTF_National-Trends-for-Faculty-Composition_WebPDF.pdf. 9. Ibid. 10. U.S. Department of Education Digest of Education Statistics, 2012, Table 290, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed January 6, 2014, 11. Part-Time Instructional Faculty and Staff: Who They Are, What They Do, and What They Think, supplemental tables for Fall 2003, Table 19, National Study of Postsecondary Faculty, accessed December 20, 2013, 12. U.S. Department of Education Digest of Education Statistics, 2011, Table 275, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed December 20, 2013, United States and Washington average in for full-time instructional faculty on nine-month contracts in four-year degree granting institutions at not-for-profit master s and doctoral institutions. 13. John Curtis and Saranna Thornton, Here s the News: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, , American Association of University Professors, accessed December 20, 2013, The median pay per course for part-time faculty members in the Far West region in fall 2010 was $3,300 at a master s level private not-forprofit institution, and $4,500 at a doctoral level private not-for-profit institution. 14. Author analysis on file. Original source: Fall 2011, Institutional Characteristics component and Spring 2012, Student Financial Aid component, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), accessed December 20, 2013, 15. Carl Straumsheim, Tackling the Cap, Inside Higher Education, April 24, 2013, accessed January 9, com/news/2013/04/24/more-institutions-cap-adjuncts-hours-anticipation-federal-guidelines. 16. Part-Time Instructional Faculty and Staff, supplemental tables for Fall 2003, Table 28. Supra note Seattle Jobs Initiative, Portrait of Seattle s Low-Income Working Population, Accessed January 9, 2014, 18. A Portrait of Part-Time Faculty Members, Tables 25, 39, Coalition on the Academic Workforce, June 2012, accessed January 9, 2014, 19. Colleen Flaherty, Union raises for adjuncts, Inside Higher Education, July 26, 2013, accessed December 20, 2013, 20. Ibid. The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local

20 21. Ibid. 22. Curtis and Thornton, Here s the News, supra note Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, supra note Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System: Final release data, 2011 and 2001, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed December 20, 2013, Analysis includes data provided by participating private, not for-profit four-year and above institutions in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue CBSA. 25. Consumer Expenditure Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed December 20, 2013, tables/12s0728.xls. 26. Seattle Home Prices and Home Values: Median Rent List Price, Zillow, accessed January 6, 2014, 26el%3D Affordable Housing, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, accessed January 6, 2014, program_offices/comm_planning/affordablehousing/. 28. Author analysis on file, based on American Community Survey (ACS) data. 29. Sanjay Bhatt. Rent Increases Here Lead the Nation, Study Finds, The Seattle Times. 09/03/13, accessed January 8, 2014, com/html/businesstechnology/ _seattlerentsxml.html. 30. Annual cost for a $1,477 per month home is $17,724, which means an individual would need an annual income of $60,000 to avoid being housing cost burdened. Annual cost for a $3,269 per month home is $39,228, which means an individual would need an annual income of $132,000 to avoid being housing cost burdened. To these housing costs we add $798 per year in renters costs for basic utilities. See also Curtis and Thornton, Here s the News, supra note 13. Class estimates have been rounded. 31. Seattle Home Prices and Home Values: Median Sale Price, Zillow, accessed January 6, 2014, 3D Assumes the following: (1) 20% down payment of $86,580; (2) an interest rate of 4.53%, which is the 30-year fixed mortgage rate for the week ending January 3 rd, 2014 Selected Interest Rates (Daily) - H.15, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, gov/releases/h15/data.htm); (3) annual premium of $872 for home owners insurance (author analysis showing Seattle homeowners pay an average of % of the home s value for insurance premiums, based on American Community Survey data); and (4) $3,274 in property taxes (author analysis showing property taxes average % of home values in Seattle, based on American Community Survey data). 33. The median annual homeowner s cost for basic utilities electricity, gas, heating, water in Seattle is $2,944 (in 2013 dollars). Author analysis on file, based on American Community Survey data. 34. $2,106 per month is $25,278 annually, plus $2,944 in utilities, which means an individual would need an annual income of $87,203 to be paying no more than 30% of income for housing. See also Curtis and Thornton, Here s the News, supra note 13. Class estimates have been rounded. 35. Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels: U.S. Average, January U.S. Department of Agriculture, accessed December 20, 2013, Estimates are based on the following: for individuals, moderate to liberal food plan for male and female between the ages of 19 and 70; for families, moderate to liberal food plan for all families. See also Curtis and Thornton, Here s the News, supra note 13. Class estimates have been rounded. 36. Parents and the High Cost of Childcare, 2012 Report, Childcare Aware of America, accessed December 20, 2013, default/files/default_site_pages/2012/cost_report_2012_final_081012_0.pdf. 37. Ibid. Average annual cost for full-time infant care at a childcare center in WA is $10,920; $8,320 for a four year old; and $4,680 for a school age child. See also Curtis and Thornton, Here s the News, supra note 13. Class estimates have been rounded. 38. Based on a $90 monthly pass to ride the King County Metro (http://www.mbta.com/fares_and_passes/passes/), $77.34 of estimates using the King County Metro s Commuting Calculator, and $1,261 in average annual car insurance costs. (http://metro.kingcounty.gov/oltools/calculator. html). Assumes the following: (1) a roundtrip commute of 9.82 miles (the Seattle average, based on 2009 National Household Transportation Survey, (2) a fuel-efficiency rating of 25 miles per gallon; (3) $3.48 per gallon of gasoline (the regular rate as of January 06, 2014, based on the U.S. Energy Information Administration, ashx?n=pet&s=emm_epmr_pte_ybos_dpg&f=w); and (5) $50 in monthly parking costs. See also Curtis and Thornton, Here s the News, supra note 13. Class estimates have been rounded. Average car insurance cost information from 39. Assuming no insurance. 20 The High Cost of Adjunct Living: Seattle A Report by Adjuncts and Contingents Together WA, a Project of SEIU Local 925

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