Equal pay for equal work is a basic principle of workplace fairness. But it has not pertained to academic labor for a long time. In January 2020 piece for Inside Higher Ed, John Warner describes what equal pay would be:
“In order to calculate the Teaching Labor Wage Gap, we need to […] determine what portion of those [full-time] salaries is dedicated to instruction and then do some addition, multiplication and division, and also more multiplication, and addition, and division.”
At PCC, instructors are paid according to how many “contact hours” at PCC they have accumulated. After working additional hours, an instructor moves to a higher step on the pay scale. Until Fall 2019, PCC kept two different sets of steps and two different pay rates for full-time and “part-time” instructors. The pay was clearly unequal between the two pay scales, but how unequal varied by level. The two scales started out not too far off, but the longer someone stayed as a job-insecure instructor, the more they were devalued.
But as John Warner says, figuring out equal pay takes math.
Step one: Full-time faculty are paid to do instruction (teaching, preparation, grading) and also for non-instructional work like committee participation, curriculum development, and student recruitment. What percentage of full-time pay goes to instruction? The only relevant data we had came from a survey in 1995 for FTers. It showed approximately 80% of their work was instructional. Since then, the demands on full-timers have increased, and the number of full-time instructors has decreased relative to all instructional work. When bargaining in 2018-19, we agreed to use 70%, along with an agreement by Administration to create a method to better track FT non-instructional hours. (Since job creep and overload has been the major complaint of FTers, this information will also help us push back on the creep!)
Step two: Full-time pay is presented as an annual salary. But “part-time” pay is paid by the instructional hour. To get an instructional hour rate from the FT pay, we need a formula:
FT annual pay *.70/48/12
- 70 = the percent of FT pay that is directly instructional
- 48 = the average number of lecture hours taught in a year (which would have to be adjusted for labs or lecture/labs)
- 12 = the number of weeks (for purposes of pay) in a term.
If we look at the pay rates for 2015-2017 we can see how irrational and unfair the old steps were.
Here are some examples.
The long-time PT instructor:
A FT instructor with 8000 contact hours would be at step 17, making $88,661. Using our formula (88661*.70/48/12) means equal pay for the PTer would be $107.74. But they were actually paid $79.25. PTers were paid 74% of what FTers earned for instructional time.
This is the very definition of exploitation.
The brand-new PT instructor:
Looking at the other end of the scale, a brand new FT instructor with 0 hours at PCC who was placed at step 1 would be paid $51,130. Using our formula (51130*.70/48/12) means equal pay would be $62.14. Actual pay at step one was $57.36. At step one, PTers were paid 92% of equal pay.
The problem we are dealing with is the irrationality of the PTer scale in the middle.
The PTer who has been serving PCC students for a few years.
A FT instructor with 1000 contact hours would be placed at step 3, making $54,774 annually, assuming they were positioned at step at hiring. Using our equity formula (54774*.70/48/12) equal pay for the part-timer with 1000 contact hours (at step 4) would be $66.57. They actually made $67.30 in that contract. This is 101% of what a FTer with equal hours would make. (Many FTers get placed at higher steps initially based on prior experience, while that rarely or never happens for PTers. We hope to work on this inequity in future bargaining.)
The new pay rates for 2020-21 moved to 13 steps. Steps 14-17 will be phased in over the next two years.