When I first arrived at this job, one of the things I really liked was the fact that lecturers were so well-integrated into the life of the college. Especially in my department, TT faculty and lecturers hung out and drank beer together, worked together on massive research and curricular projects, and ran important committees together. It took me two years to realize that one of my colleagues down the hall was, in fact, a lecturer, and not the full professor I took her to be.
Campus-wide, lecturers are perhaps not as well integrated as in our department, but it's better than at most places. Best of all, lecturers are members of the faculty union, so we all stand or fall together.
Until now, it seems.
Very recently, the union had to vote as to whether to accept a furlough plan. Consequences for a "no" vote were unspecified, but the money would have had to come from somewhere, and lecturers' positions seemed like they'd be on the chopping block.** The vote turned out to be a yes vote. So there will be furloughs.
Nobody likes the idea, not even those of us who voted for it. But here's the issue: some faculty who I have long respected are now all up in arms, blaming the lecturers for their pay cuts (as if the lecturers weren't getting furloughed as well, and from fewer courses than they've had in the past). I even heard one (not from my department, I'm happy to say) insist today that "most of our lecturers are part-timers who have other jobs, and they're making six figures,*** so they're not hurting." The fact that I still haven't kicked this guy in the neck shows what a good person I am.
But it's not just this one guy. Faculty who I've always respected are muttering about splitting the lecturers (the same ones who came to the brink of a strike with us to get a long-overdue contract) off from the union so we didn't have to take their interests into account. Some old friends on campus aren't speaking to each other.
So here's what I'd like to tell my fellow tenured colleagues: unexamined privilege isn't just something we write about; compared to our lecturers (not to mention our students), we live it every day. Yes, it sucks that we're getting paid a lot less this year than we had been promised, but please stop attacking the only people hurt worse than you by all this mess.****
And here's what I'd like to tell TT faculty just starting out: In my department, and perhaps in yours, the lecturers scrambling for ever-scarcer course assignments have Ph.D.s, important committee service, peer-reviewed publications, and university press books, just like you. The main reason we have our TT positions and they don't is DUMB LUCK. Keep that in mind if you're ever tempted to feel like you're more deserving than your contingent colleagues.
And to the lecturers: I don't know what to say, except I'm sorry for the shtstorm you're going to have to deal with this year. And coffee's on me.
**Though even with the yes vote, our department lost over a third of our part-timers.
***Yes, most of our part-time colleagues do have other gigs. But unless the junior college down the road is paying a lot more than I thought it was, this guy is just full of sht. And I don't like him.
****And fertheluvagod, stop bitching about how little we get paid IN FRONT OF OUR WORKING-CLASS STUDENTS!