From Academic to Assembly Line Worker: My Life of Precarity in Middle America

Diaz, Gloria
Date Written:  2019-01-08
Publisher:  Working In These Times
Year Published:  2019
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23237

A non-tenured academic's story of trying to make ends meet in Indiana.



After attempting to scrape by on adjunct teaching and retail jobs, I finally returned to the world of temp agencies. Last June, I was in-between teaching gigs, and I needed to find more work fast.

This is a common predicament. Reeling from state budget cuts and propping up top-heavy administrations, universities have turned increasingly to the cheap teaching labor provided by non-tenure track faculty. More than half of college faculty today are adjuncts, but the jobs are notoriously precarious and low-paying - a 2014 survey eventually found that the median income is just $22,000 a year.

The trend towards low-wage, insecure jobs has been proceeding in blue-collar and service industries for decades. Many are surprised to see it now afflicting the bearers of advanced degrees; adjuncts have been called the "fast-food workers of the academic world." But I'd point out that in order to make ends meet, some adjuncts may actually find themselves pulling shifts as actual fast-food workers - or fried-food inspectors, in my case.

Subject Headings

Insert T_CxShareButtonsHorizontal.html here