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"Death of an Adjunct" and the value of labor

My condolences to Margaret Mary Vojtko's family.

I want today to make a small point addressing the question of labor and value. Again, I want to be brief. So here's an anecdote.

A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine developed a virus that damaged his hearing. He went to see a specialist who carried out a delicate medical procedure. The procedure involved the insertion of a needle into his eardrum, and the injection of some anti-inflammatory medication. Not a very pleasant experience to be sure, and upon leaving the doctor's office my friend happened to glance at the medical bill. The cost for a procedure that lasted approximately ten minutes? Three thousand dollars.

For those paying attention to the Vojtko story, that's the same amount, roughly, that many adjuncts are paid per course per semester.

Consider this stark contrast, then: two experts in their fields, highly educated and skilled practitioners following their respective callings. One person receives three thousand dollars for the labor of fifteen weeks. The other receives -- or rather, charges -- three thousand dollars for the labor of ten minutes.

Is this just? 

Comments

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I appreciate your raising this issue, and, again, I don't want to butt in here too much. But I think framing the fairness question by comparing Ms. Vojtko to a medical practioner clouds the argument (i.e., is a teacher more valuable than a doctor).  

Better to compare adjunct to tenured faculty with equivalent education. This is difficult, but here's a stab at it: 

The NEA reported that in 2009/10, a full time instructor (someone with an M.A. or ABD, those who tend to fill the adjunct ranks) in liberal arts earns $65,377 per year. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/C-Clery_2011_24Feb11_p7-28.pdf 

The overall pay for an adjunct at the same educational level is about $3,000. http://chronicle.com/article/Adjunct-Project-Shows-Wide/136439/ 

Remember that most schools are limiting adjuncts to two courses per semester in order to dodge ACA requirements. So, at best, an average adjunct might teach six courses and make $18,000 per year. 

But even if the adjunct were teaching a full-time load, say 12 courses, s/he would earn $36,000, or about $29,000 LESS than a tenured instructor with the same level of education and expertise.

Now ask whether that's fair.

 

 

Robert - yes, that view certainly is understandable.  Any sports fan who works for a living has similar thoughts when watching the NFL tight end drop a pass or the major league shortstop airmail one into the right field stands.

I suppose, as with the overpaid athletes, the problem is rooted in supply and demand.  Universities get away with paying what are, semi-literally, slave wages, because they can, because there are way more desperate and starving PhDs than positions.  But noting that, what is the solution?  I would guess that universities also have an financial incentive to pump out as many graduate degrees as the constraints of classroom and lab space allow.  Maybe university tenure-track professors are slated to go the way of service station attendants and bowling alley pin setters.

Sorry, one more thought: I expect the MD would tell us that he faces the same sort of downmarket competition: a physician's assistant or a nurse practicioner or some such presumably is pretty deft with a needle, too.  My group health insurance plan won't pay for my getting a flu shot in the doctor's office anymore; I'm expected to go to Walgreen's.  (Is a drug store really a sterile environment?)

See, I knew that doctor/adjunct analogy would send people off on tangents. My friend Jim is now off worrying about the sterility of his Walgreen store (and probably wondering why they don't stock Vernor's) instead of getting outraged about adjunct pay.

Focus, Jim! :-)

Anyone interested in knowing what adjuncts are paid at your college or university can go to the Chronicle of Higher Ed's Adjunct Project and type in a college: http://adjunct.chronicle.com

 

(Okay, I've now posted half the comments, so I'll get offa here.)

Is it "just" that a "specialist who carried out a delicate medical procedure" makes as much in ten minutes as an 83-year-old adjunct makes for teaching a whole course in French?

Apples and oranges.

Neither was forced onto a career path.  Both made their choices as adults.

Agree, Jim, about Ph.D. programs.  Odd how universities continue to pretend that those enrolled in Pin Setting programs will ever find employment.  

As to tenure?  Here's what one university -- Brown, requires of those seeking Tenure and Promotions:  http://www.brown.edu/about/administration/dean-of-faculty/tenure-and-pro...

 

Gerelyn and all - regarding that link to Brown's process to attain tenure - I confess I didn't wade through all of those pdfs at the link you provided.  But here is my question: would someone whose status is adjunct even be invited to partake of that process, i.e .would an adjunct even be considered as a candidate for tenure, even if she has been an adjunct for 25 years?  My impression, which certainly may be mistaken as I don't live in academia, is that adjuncts are the equivalent of "temps" or "contractors" in the business world, and it is only the "FTEs" in the professoriate who even qualify for consideration for tenure.

 

Agree, Jim.  A person who has been an adjunct for 25 years would not be considered for tenure.  Miracles can happen, but I can't see an adjunct suddenly begin researching and writing and publishing scholarly books and articles.  And who would write the many references required?  

(Law school adjuncts occupy a slightly different realm, imho.  Some are retired lawyers who want to teach future lawyers what they've learned.  Some are still active in law or business, but want to teach one course a semester, or deliver a few lectures, not for money, but to share their experiences, wisdom, knowledge, etc.  Very different from adjuncts who scurry from one community college to another, trying to earn enough to . . . .

---

Robert, as to what is just and what is fair and what is possible?  Perhaps those already with jobs as assistant professors, associate professors, etc. should do what they can to end the exploitation of universities' victims.  Sympathy is easy; action is hard.

Go out on strike in solidarity with adjuncts.  Refuse to teach another class until they're given good wages, good benefits, offices, etc.   

Stop cooperating in graduate programs that lead nowhere.  Post big signs on office doors warning potential graduate students about what really lies in store for them.

Point out how much a Ph.D. will cost, breaking it down into tuition, fees, books, living expenses, lost wages.

Point out how long it takes.

List the jobs currently held by those who earned Ph.D.s from the department for the last ten years, with salaries.   

 

I think Jim is correct to see tenured university professors in considerable jeopardy.  I've been a librarian at a university for 30+ years and spent some earlier years as a teaching assistant and then an adjunct instructor, so I'm a bit of an insider (though not at an administrative or decision-making  level).  Universities are facing incredible financial stress.  Everyone knows that tuition is obscenely high, so administrations are looking at ways to save.  One strategy is online education (savings on infrastructure--you don't need to build those new dorms, classroom buildings, and parking lots if a high proportion of your students are virtual) and another is replacing more professors with adjuncts--no benefits, low wages, and great flexibility for the department or university in firing (or simply not rehiring) faculty.  We are moving more and more to a two-tiered system.  Big name faculty stars who bring in grants and graduate students at the top of the pyramid, with most of the teaching done by essentially disposable adjuncts.  I think it mirrors what is happening in many other professions and occupations (e.g. law), and if the trend continues it will contribute to the shrinking of our middle class.  It might not be necessary (other solutions might be found), but it seems the way we have chosen--or are simply drifting towards..

A person who has been an adjunct for 25 years would not be considered for tenure.  Miracles can happen, but I can't see an adjunct suddenly begin researching and writing and publishing scholarly books and articles.  And who would write the many references required?  

I'm just wondering about the assumptions behind this claim. Is it that adjuncts don't research, write, publish? That they either don't have expertise or don't keep it up? Is it that they have no references? If so, this just doesn't really tally with my experience, with that of adjunct I work with, with that of adjuncts I meet at regional conferences, or from reading about the state of adjunct employment in the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

For those who aren't familiar with the way higher ed operates (not Jean! But I can see from some of the comments above that some people aren't), I thought it might be useful to clarify a couple things a little. 

First, to make my own position clear: I think the adjunct situation in higher ed is a moral disgrace, especially in Catholic colleges and especially where unions are not allowed. I'm sympathetic to the budget problems of administrators, but not *that* sympathetic; it's just unacceptable under any circumstances to casualize your core labor like this. Cut football if you have to; figure it out. Furthermore, I think the lack of professional respect given to adjuncts by universities and by tenure-track peers is *also* a disgrace (although it seems to me that the latter problem is fading; most of the TT people I know personally, especially the younger ones, are perfectly aware that adjuncts can be spectacular teachers and also scholars, and many of them understand that there but for the grace of God, etc.)

All right, all that said, it's still not really accurate to compare the pay for adjuncts to the pay for TT professors in an apples and oranges way. TT people teach (not at Harvard, but at most normal colleges/universities) 5 to 8 classes a year. (2/3 and 3/3 loads are typical at better-off places; 4/4 at small and/or poor colleges.) They *also* are expected to perform research and publish (in varying amounts depending on institution and teaching load), and to fulfill a variety of administrative duties -- student advising along with committee work, planning events (like speakers), recruiting and mentoring majors. The job is holistic: teaching, research, and "service" (all the other stuff).

Adjuncts *do* often research and publish, either because they are trying to get a TT job or because they're so invested in their subject that they're doing it without hope of financial reward. But they're not paid for it, or for anything else. That's one major reason why the "full-time" salary is so low; it's because the university doesn't regard a full teaching load, even of 4/4, as a full-time job. (This is crazy considering how much work teaching is, but still, that's the theory.)

Adjuncts are hired as adjuncts and can't be "considered for tenure" while adjuncts. Every once in a while an adjunct is hired into a new tenure-track job (my understanding is this happens most frequently at less prestigious institutions -- like community colleges -- which highlights the snobbery aspect, yes) and recently there's been some noise about making full-time, permanent, with benefits, non-tenure-track positions. I'm not sure how widespread that is as a reality yet, and some adjuncts object to it on the grounds that they're going to keep researching, so why create an intentional two-tier system to replace an accidental two-tier system.

Finally, in response to a comment on an earlier thread about this -- believe me, teaching six classes a year (plus all the other stuff one is supposed to be doing) is MORE than a full-time job. Almost everyone I know has worked 50-60 hour weeks, if not more, for the first five or six years after getting out of graduate school; keeping up with/responding to student work alone is a huge job, let alone lesson planning, let alone the research/publishing/service parts of the job. The problem is not that TT people are doing too little for their massive (hah!) salaries, the problem is that adjuncts aren't being paid nearly enough for the crazy amount of work *they* are doing.

 

 

The Chronicle of Higher Education  is "a publication said to employ more pseudonyms than any other American newspaper. The life of the mind is born of fear."

-- from "Academia's Indentured Servants," by Sarah Kenzior, Ph.D.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/04/20134119156459616.html

For a collection of essays by adjuncts, see Academic Apartheid:  Waging the Adjunct War, by Sylvia M. DeSantis.  Try search terms like "tenure."

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1443828599/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

 

 

 

Catherine, Jean, Kevin et al, many thanks for the explanations and insights.  Catherine, regarding this:

The job is holistic: teaching, research, and "service" (all the other stuff)

This makes sense, and there is a sort of parallel in the world of ministry (as when a parish priest is expected to say mass and run a parish and school and be the area dean).  I have to say, though, that my experience as a student is that the quality of teaching in the undergraduate world is kind of all over the map.  I was subjected to some teachers that, quite frankly, were pretty bad, and in one particular case, a bad one whom I couldn't avoid changed the trajectory of my graduate school plans because I couldn't do well enough in his class.  Again, there are parallels in ministry: a priest may be a gifted preacher but a terrible administrator; or he may be wonderful in one-to-one ministry but suffer from stage fright in front of a big group.  

I hope this comment doesn't subvert the cause of treating adjuncts fairly - I really think it's a separate although somewhat related issue - but there are some professors who shouldn't be teaching.  And then there are people like me, who are competent for teaching the "101" undergraduate classes in a given field but who really aren't academic creatures.  

I suppose part of the macro picture here is that universities are dismantling the holistic model you describe by separating out the teaching from the other dimensions of academic life.  Do you agree?  If, in the course of doing this, more consistently excellent classroom instruction is a result, then honestly, I don't think it's all bad.  If an adjunct is an excellent teacher, and a tenured professor is a terrible teacher, nobody is well-served by foisting the tenured profs on the students.  And if the adjunct is given preference - well, that may strengthen the case to treat the adjunct justly, including creating an adjunct or teaching-only career track.  

This comment was triggered in part by one of my children who is an undergraduate, who came home disgruntled the other day because the adviser in one of the science lab courses apparently is a poor communicator and a nasty piece of work as a human being.  My experience as a student is that these "TAs" typically are graduate students themselves, not quite the same thing as an adjunct.  But this TA (if I have the basic academic profile correct) may well have a better shot at a tenure-track job in a year or two than a competent teacher adjunct who has been out in the world for ten years, yes?  And that doesn't seem right, either.

 

 

 

Some little known principles about college teaching:

The function of a college professor is to preserve and expand knowledge and profess it,   that is, make it available to the world.  Therefore, a professor is typically both a researcher and a teacher.  

Tenure is to be awarded on the basis of expertise.  Having a doctorate is a certification of experise, but there are some professors without that degree who qualify without it.  For instance, Alasdair MacIntyre, whom I tout incessantly, began teaching in a minor English university with two master's degrees.  Within just a few years was at Oxford.  Never got a Ph.D. because he's so extraordinarily brilliant he doesn't need one.

Theoretically the already tenured members of each department vote on who shall be admitted to a permanent job  (tenure).  In actual practice, however, deans and presidents (having the purse-strings) decide.  So there can be a circumstance in which a dean with expertise in, say, music decides who gets tenure in engineering or economics.  Does this indicate something is radically wrong with the administration of American universities?  You betcha.  It means the experts are no longer really in charge of standards.

Tenure is NOT awarded (theoretically) as a way to attract fine faculty.  It is awarded in orer to protect professors whose views go against accepted opinions, especially popular political and theological ones.  The reason such people must be protected, even when the other experts think they're wrong, is because new ideas are always fought against and some of the most important new ideas have turned out to be true.  Also, it is assumed that if the currently accepted opinion is acutally true that the other professors can and will defend it as it deserves, and the bad new ideas will fall by the wayside.  This is why it is a function of professors to criticize, criticize, criticize, and since the time of Socrates they have gotten into trouble for it.   

Yes, adjunct teachers can be fine teachers and also fine researchers.  In another age they would be in tenure track or have tenure.  And that is just one of the reasons why the current system stinks.  It also stinks because it tempts some of the adjuncts to be toadies so they'll get one of the scarce full-time jobs.

 

 

They *also* are expected to perform research and publish (in varying amounts depending on institution and teaching load), and to fulfill a variety of administrative duties -- student advising along with committee work, planning events (like speakers), recruiting and mentoring majors. The job is holistic: teaching, research, and "service" (all the other stuff).

Catherine, I appreciate and respect your perspective, but I think the distinction you make between TT and adjunct above has become quite blurred, though I still hear it touted by admin as a reason that adjunct are paid less. The English department in which I teach has exactly one full-time TT position and 13-16 adjunct positions, depending on enrollment. As a result, the college must rely on us for all the things you mention, and they do pay us on an hourly basis for some of these "extras," though getting them to do so was a struggle. Despite the fact that nearly all of us are adjunct and we have clout, there is a real hesitancy to unionize or form an independent bargaining unit. Many are hostile to unions, some don't want to pay dues, others are simply afraid. They juggle schedules at one or two other schools, and they fear that their contracts will not be renewed if they are seen as agitators. 

Ann, thanks for that long perspective.

And, Jim, thanks for trying not to conflate TAs, who are usually young people, often unduly impressed with themselves and without any teaching experience whatever (I used to be one) and adjuncts, many of whom have decades of experience teaching and studying in their field.

For me the bottom line is this: I don't expect to be paid as much as a PhD. I don't expect to be paid as much as a tenured professor. I willingly went back to teaching because it afforded me flexibility when my son was born, and I knew the score re pay and benefits. However, the adjunct deal continues to erode as the cost of benefits rises for employers and as admins see adjunctification as a way to balance the bottom line.

Sixty years ago Robert Hutchins offered a neat solution to the problem of athletics.  Forget the student-athletes.   Each college should just hire their own bunch of athletes and should pay them a fair wage.  (They earn a bundle for the schools.)   

 

Of course, given what athletes are paid these days, the colleges might not be able to afford them.  I say let the NFL, ABL, whatever,  start their own farm systems, and let the colleges go back to their old, honest nonprofessional teams.  

 

This raises the problem of alumni, and that's a whole different kettle of worms.

 

Is it just? First, let me note that I agree that much of medicine is overpriced and that adjuncts are overpaid. Still, I'd expect to see a huge salary disparity. In any sort of market where people are free to do what they want, almost everyone will pay money to restore their sense of hearing, and moreover they will pay top dollar in order to ensure that the person sticking a needle in their eardrum is highly qualified and knows exactly where to stick the needle. By contrast, almost no one will pay money to learn French, and even if they do pay money, they won't pay very much, because learning French isn't nearly as important to them as still being able to hear. 

There certainly can be injustices in markets, but what we see here is more a reflection of the fact that some people know highly technical skills that are a huge help to other people, while others don't. 

WastingTime --

You are comparing apples and oranges.  Medicine is only extremely practical -- it helps our bodies to stay well.  But French and the other  Humanities teach us the alternative ways of living available to human beings and how to live well and how to avoid  living badly.  This goes far beyond merely keeping a body in good health.  

Americans to the contrary notwithstanding, having a healhty body is not the same thing as living a worthy and interesting life.  A healthy body is not the same thing as a fulfilled mind and heart.  A good life requires all three.  

Learning French doesn't teach you any of those things; even if it did, the fact that you might value learning French highly doesn't respond to the point that most people would find it useless whereas keeping their hearing is very useful. 

As noted above, I think comparing the worth and remuneration of a medical doctor to, say, an adunct who teaches French sends people on the worthy but tangential exploration of what matters most to us as human beings.

I think it might be interesting to look at why treatment of adjunct faculty compared to their tenured counterparts fails to get much sympathetic traction as, say, the single mother of three who is working two fast-food jobs for minimum wage.

When Walmart or McDonald's workers walk out and stage a demonstration, it gets coverage. These stories often feed familiar narratives about the greed of corporations who make money on the backs of low-paid workers, the pluck of unskilled workers with common horse sense, and their dreams of a better future for their kids.

There is a certain schadenfreude about the comedownance (sorry) of the well-educated who find themselves scraping together a living from their brains, as if an advanced degree was merely a self-indulgence, not a necessity like bringing home the bacon or a calling like being a priest. My father, who was strictly of the "if you're so smart, why ain't you rich" school of thinking, was constantly telling stories at family gatherings about how much more financially successful my brother, a high school graduate with an innate business sense and musical ability, was. "Now you've gotta ask yourself," he'd say, being sure to position himself where I could hear, "who's really the smart one?" 

 

The fast food "single mother of three" works at her jobs because she is unable to find a better job.  The adjunct single mother of three could probably find a better job if she wanted to, but maybe she prefers the cachet to the cash.  

Tenured professors don't make that much money, either, compared to what they could be making if they had  chosen business over professing.  See, e.g., the case of St. Louis University, transformed by Lawrence Biondi, S.J., now brought low by tenured faculty.

http://www.stlmag.com/St-Louis-Magazine/October-2013/The-Complex-Legacy-...

 

For an example of why some/many/most people feel little/no sympathy for adjuncts, see "The Incredible Invisible Adjunct" in Academic Apartheid. 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1443828599/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

 

 

"Learning French doesn't teach you any of those things; even if it did, the fact that you might value learning French highly doesn't respond to the point that most people would find it useless whereas keeping their hearing is very useful."

Might Be --

I'm speaking from experience.  I'm profoundly deaf.  If I had to choose between hearing and my liberal educaiton, I'd choose the liberal education in a flash.  Qualification -- my science education was very poor, and to that extent, my education was bad.  But the my education in specifically human matters (history, lit, art, philosophy, the theology I've picked up)  and the means to rationally consider human topics (critical thinking and a bit of artistic practice) were far more valuable than merely being able to hear.  Loss of hearing means you lose music and the sound of the human voice (though not speech).  But other wise, the other stuff far outweighs what I used to get from hearing, including music.)

Maybe the best thing about a good liberal education is that it teaches you how to really read -- how to extract the wisdom of the past  without having to re-invent the wheel for ourselves.  We can continute to read outside of college and thereby add to the store of wisdom a basic liberal arts program provides us..

I suspect that your basic education might have been *called* a liberal education, but it really wasn't one.  For instance, two years of French might make you able to speak it a bit (a practical matter), but it would not necessarily make you capable of reading French literature.  If that is so, then, you're right -- the French you took wasn't sufficient to be part of a liberal educaiton for you.  

 

Jean --

You told Jim P. to focus.  But maybe the problem is a highly complex one, and so we need to look at the wider set of causes of this grossly inequitable systemic practice.  After taking a wider look, we can try to invent a solution.

 In other words, just focusing on a problem is not always the best way to solve it.  Looking back, sideways and forwards are often all required.  (Yay, history; yay, studying human nature, yay, studying logic, especially fallacies, yay, studying economics, etc., etc.)

Ann -- think of it this way. Suppose you suddenly have a condition that could make you go blind. There's a highly specialized doctor who could do an incredibly sensitive operation on your eyes that would preserve your eyesight. On the other hand, you could take courses in a Chinese dialect.

Which service would you pay more for? If you choose the Chinese dialect for some reason, do you realize that this is a highly unusual preference? 

Ann, I think the immediate problem is fairly simple: Adjuncts are paid substantially less money and benefits for an equivalent amount of work by their tenured counterparts, and these wages need to be brought into better parity. 

Some of the justification for low adjunct pay is just incorrect--they don't keep up in their fields, they don't research, they don't attend conferences, they don't counsel students--is just wrong. 

Some of the justification for adjunct pay is specious--low adunct pay allows students to get more financial aid. That's sounds great for students, but is it fair to do it on the backs of a certain group of teachers?

There's also a "customer" problem with the adjunct system. If I were paying $500 per credit hour for a class (the going rate at some universities that rely heavily on adjuncts to fill general ed classes), I would not be happy to learn that the class was taught by someone who is often hired in a hurry and never evaluated by a department head or even a colleague. 

In the long run, if you bring adjunct pay up to a more equitable level, yes, there will be ripple effects. Schools may not be able to hire as many teachers. They may not be able to accommodate every student knocking at the door. They may have to go up the employment chain and rethink what they're paying admin and "star faculty." They may have to ditch some of their bright shiny renovations. I submit that some of this belt-tightening and soul-searching might actually be good for higher ed.

Unhappy adjuncts might take comfort from an amusing (imho) article in The Chronicle of Higher Education:  "Why Are Associate Professors So Unhappy?"  

http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Are-Associate-Professors/132071/

From that:

Ms. Soltan recognizes, however, that higher education attracts people who are "neurotic, ever unhappy, and ever restless," which, she says, is partly a good thing.

 

The comments below the article are more about why she is called "Ms." instead of "Dr."  

MightBe --

You talk as if a liberal education is just a matter of learning to speak a foreign language.  It's much, much, much, much broader than that.  And it's always expensive.  There's your dilemma -- are you willing to pay for a very great good that will make a huge difference in your life and might even be a condition of discovering what will make you truly happy.  Yes, we're talking happiness here, not just chatting with a cab driver in Paris.

Someone can always be counted on to go off on tangents irrelevant to the topic at hand.  My turn this time, I guess.

Congratulations on "comewdownance," a triumph of logic over convention.  It encourages me to lodge a predictably futile protest against a different term, "medical doctor."  (I'm not criticizing you, of course: you just decided not to swim against the current in this instance.)  

If "M.D." means "medical doctor," does "Ph.D." mean "philosophical doctor"?  Is someone with an Sc. D. a scientific doctor, and one with an Ed. D. an educational doctor?  Are those awarded the J.D. judicial doctors, and those with a D.D. divine doctors?

All the foregoing would immediately be recognized as barbarous back-formations.  Yet "medical doctor," which began as an innocent mistake (though still a mistake) has now been canonized by government agencies.  In California, at least, notices in waiting rooms inform all interested parties about the board responsible for the licensing of "medical doctors."  

The degree is still "Medicinae Doctor," in English "Doctor of Medicine."  A shorter and equally accurate term is "physician," dang it all. 

Hmm, my reply to the 1:47 p.m. Sept. 22 posting by Jean Hughes Raber is shown after numerous intervening ones, though I clicked on "reply."  Looks like some sort of glitch in the system.

Julian, "medical doctor" seems a handy way to differentiate a physician from others who hold doctorates of other types. Using the term doesn't necessarily mean that one doesn't know the Latin origin of the M.D. designation, does it?

For those still interested in this thread, there was an interesting segment on PBS's "NewsHour" about how those in the hospitality industry are weighing the pros and cons of cutting employee hours to avoid the employer mandate in the ACA. Many colleges who hire adjuncts have already cut adjunct hours below the 30-hours-per-week point to avoid having to pay them benefits. My department introduced six new adjuncts at our faculty meeting yesterday ... adjuncts who will take the courses that have been taken away from us so the college doesn't have to pay any of us benefits. The mandatory meetings and professional development will be about $1,200 per year for each of these folks. I presume there are other HR costs associated with hiring these folks.

One restaurateur in the NewsHour segment noted that cutting his employees is going to mean dealing with higher turnover, recruitment and training, not to mention possible reduction in the quality of his product. He feels it's worth it to provide benefits to the employees so he can concentrate more on his business and less on HR headaches. Here's the NewsHour report: 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/july-dec13/healthcare_09-23.html

Jean, whether they know the Latin origin of "Ph.D." or not, people seem to find the initials "handy" enough without resorting to an erroneous back-formation.  Same is true for the other examples cited.  I'd think "M.D." would serve perfectly well, or "physician."  Those Swiftean enough to prefer longer terms can always say "Doctor of Medicine."  Hard to see the need for "medical doctor."  (Irrelevantly enough, I'm reminded that Muriel Spark liked "Doctors of Philosophy" so much that she made it the title of a play.)  Anyhow, I did predict that my protest would be futile...

Sorry about inserting a typo into "comedownance," by the way. 

Jean, the restaurateur on the NewsHour segment understands what the Costco folks understand: better-treated employees may cost more in salaries and benefits, but they're actually more cost-effective.  The alternative model is that of WalMart.  Have to wonder how far lower employee turnover would go toward allowing better medical coverage for more WalMart employees, so that taxpayers (through Medicaid, etc.) wouldn't have to take up so much of the slack.

Then there's the plight of workers in hospitals run by religious institutions:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/law-shields-churches-leaves-pensions-14442...