January 12-14, 2001
San Josť City College, San Jose California

December 30, 2000, Saturday


LENGTH: 835 words

HEADLINE: National Conference on Contingent Academic Labor, January 12-14, at San Jose City College, San Jose, California

DATELINE: San Jose, California, Dec. 30


The California Part-time Faculty Association (CPFA) is hosting the fourth National Conference on Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL IV). CPFA, a professional association of faculty from all 107 California community colleges (CCCs), began building a broader alliance with other faculty organizations over the past two years and, at their June 2000 Plenary, resolved to organize the first west coast conference on contingent academic labor after discussions with the Boston based Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor.

Frustrated at the lack of institutional support and its impact on their ability to fulfill their professional obligations to their students, part-time and adjunct faculty are joining together to demand better wages and working conditions. During the past six months as plans have developed, the conference has caught the attention of the higher education community across the United States and Canada, attracting financial support and sponsorship from over forty professional associations and labor organizations from inside and outside the academic community (a list of sponsoring organizations is attached below). Participants expect COCAL IV will be the largest and most significant conference of its kind.

A Government Accounting Office report on contingent labor and related legislation sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has helped to document the extent of the problem. Recent surveys by nine disciplinary organizations in the social sciences and humanities found that permanent full-time faculty members are now a minority in many academic departments. Part-time faculty members are paid less than $3,000 per course on average -- equivalent to what fast-food workers and baggage porters earn. Contingent faculty are rarely afforded benefits; for example, only 22.6 percent of history departments offered benefits to their part-time faculty. Arguing that professors' working conditions are the same conditions under which students learn, advocates are raising issues regarding the quality of education that have broad public appeal.

In California, a major study of the employment conditions of community college part-time faculty is due to be released by the California Post-secondary Education Commission (CPEC) in March. The CPEC study, called for by AB 420 (Wildman), and signed by Governor Grey Davis in June, 1999, is expected to confirm the results of a June 2000 study by the California State Auditor that looked at eight of California's seventy two community college districts.

The Bureau of State Audits found that, even when non-teaching activities are factored out, CCC part-time faculty earn 31% less than their tenure track colleagues, and additionally, receive few if any benefits. The Board of Governors of California Community Colleges has proposed a $75 million augmentation to the 2001-2002 system budget, a down payment on the estimated $225 million needed to achieve equal support for the 47% of CCC instruction under temporary assignments. The California Community College system serves nearly one and one half million students and is the largest system of higher education in the world.

National interest in this issue is further evidenced by the formation of the National Alliance for Fair Employment (NAFFE), and the statewide efforts in California community colleges by Action 2000 (A2K). In the struggle for equity for adjunct faculty, A2K collected 40,000 petition signatures from 86 California community college campuses during a single week in April of last year.

COCAL IV will issue a call for National Equity Week, a week of concerted activities to promote campus organizing. Plans for the conference include showcasing successful organizing efforts used in Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, and across Canada in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia. Links will also be explored with the progress in non-academic areas of contingent labor, both for the lessons to be learned and for the formation of strategic alliances.

Long time supporter of California's community colleges, Senator John Vasconcellos will speak to the Conference on Saturday Morning, when he will be joined by Assemblyman Scott Wildman, author of AB 420, known as the "Part-time Faculty Bill of Rights" as it went through the legislative process in 1999. Linda Collins, President of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges and Jane Buck, President of the American Association of University Professors address the attendees during the afternoon session.

Throughout the day on Saturday faculty and organization leaders from throughout the North American academic community will lead a variety of interactive breakouts covering topics from local organizing and coalition building to litigation and public relations. Sunday's sessions will turn to more pragmatic discussion and planning, focussed around potential National Equity Week 2001 activities and solidifying regional coalitions.

Friday evening's dinner, for early arrivals, will feature an Author and Editor's Roundtable including Cary Nelson (Academic Keywords), Michael Dubson (Ghosts in the Classroom), and Eileen E. Schell and Patricia Lambert Stock (co-editors of Moving a Mountain).

For more information go to or contact Mary Ellen Goodwin, Chair of the Conference Steering Committee, Chris Storer, CPFA, 650-949-2287;

The California Part-time Faculty Association is an Association of California Community College Faculty, representing the professional interests of thirty one thousand community college faculty and their students. Our Mission is "to create the opportunity for community college students to have equal access to quality education by promoting professional equity for all faculty. As professional educators, we understand that only with faculty who share equally in the responsibilities and rewards of the profession can such opportunity for academic success and education be afforded all students in the California Community College system."

COCAL IV Sponsors

California Part-time Faculty Association
Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor
San Jose City College
American Association of University Professors
The National Alliance For Fair Employment
The American Philosophical Association
The Modern Language Association
Conference on College Composition and Communication
The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges
The University of Calif. University Lecturers, UC-AFT
The National Education Association (NEA)
San Jose Firefighters, IAFF Local 230
The Lecturers Council - California State University CFA
The Faculty Assoc. of California Community Colleges
San Jose-Evergreen Faculty Association
Communication Workers of America
Community College Association/CTA
Community College Council/CFT
The Foothill - De Anza Faculty Association
The De-Anza College Academic Senate
The Foothill College Academic Senate
CPFA-Southern Region
AFT Local 1521, LA CCD
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

COCAL IV Co-Sponsors

San Jose City College Academic Senate
Faculty Coalition for Public Higher Education
The Santa Monica Faculty Association
Evergreen Valley College Academic Senate
Moorpark College Academic Senate
The California Community College Independents
The American Folklore Society
The University of Calgary Faculty Association
AFT, Local 1828, Ventura County CCD
West Valley-Mission Assoc. of Prof. Educators
The Bay Faculty Association
Calif. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
American Association of University Women, California
The Allan Hancock College Academic Senate.
Santa Barbara City College Instructors' Association
Ventura County Federation of College Teachers
American Association of University Women (AAUW), San Jose
All Faculty Association, Santa Rosa Junior College
9 to 5 Bay Area, National Association of Working Women
Primerica Financial Group
National Coalition of Independent Scholars

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