Public Opinion

Letter to the editor

We are writing in response to the article “Bargain Battle” in the March 20, 2012 CNM Chronicle that listed full time faculty salaries here as $54,292 on average. There may be a few who earn that much, but most do not. Plus, according to StateUniversity.com, CNM faculty salaries rank at the bottom of the tier of NM State Universities.

More importantly, part time salary was not listed at all in your article. Since part time faculty make up approximately 75 percent of the instructional workforce at CNM, this is serious.

At the current time professors with a PhD and teaching experience can expect to earn approximately $2600 per course. This is far below what professionals earn at other institutions. This means that a fac­ulty member who got just one class in a semester instead of the four which are needed for a decent pay­check, that person would be look­ing at only $450 per month in take home pay. In summer, for example, it’s not uncommon for part time faculty to receive only one or two courses.

Despite the administration’s claim that part time educators here are retired and/or have a second job that pays significantly more, this is not the case for many of us. Particularly in the humanities, teaching is considered a long-term career, but with the CNM salary scale most of us cannot support ourselves much less our families. We are much like the workers in an Apple factory who make state of the art products but get paid so little. Many of our own faculty qualify for food and housing assistance benefits and yet the top administrators, like a Steve Jobs, pull down a high salary.

It seems your article implied that the faculty have not had a con­tract for three years because the Union just will not give in during negotiations. On the contrary, Union members are aware that there have been many efforts to compromise, but the sticking point is a clause that seeks to unilaterally and arbitrarily lower our wages at any given time without the consent of the Union. We cannot give up our basic rights and have any dignity at work here.

Moreover, if one’s salary is $450 per month, a one percent pay cut with no warning just might be the tipping point that results in that faculty member living in his/her car. Most of us do not have profes­sional office space now and work out of our car so perhaps we will wind up living there too.

The Chronicle should look into why it’s the lowest paid mem­bers of the working class-whether at an educational institution or a factory—that are asked to con­tinue sacrificing when those folks are already struggling to make ends meet.

Low pay often drives part time instructors to seek second jobs in order to support their fami­lies; others leave academia alto­gether because they simply cannot make ends meet at CNM. Faculty feel than appreciated as we saw the President granted a bonus of $10,300 last year. Her bonus increases every year (to a maximum of over $20,000). This, on top of the $238,000 she already receives annually. This bonus by itself is more than many full time part-time faculty earn in a year.

In addition to the low pay for full and part-time faculty, it is important to keep in mind the lack of professional treatment of faculty. For example, cubicle space for meet­ing with students, class preparation, and research is doled out to many part-time faculty in increments of thirty minutes. Even those precious thirty minutes can be a challenge because of distractions from nearby conversations and other noise the cubicles just don’t keep out. Full time faculty are expected to work in a cube or closet size office that is like a call center operations room. These conditions are not conducive to serious academic scholarship or good teaching.

In conclusion, the current low pay for and unprofessional treat­ment of faculty, especially part-time faculty, at CNM creates a conflict for many of us. We must choose between a living wage and reasonable working conditions and doing what we set out to do as pro­fessionals – educate CNM students.

Sincerely,

BlendBenay Robert Anderson Marlene Perrotte Shep Jenks Hana Norton Aaron Combs Daniel Davis Cyndi Sabo Carol Cole Seamus O’Sullivan

Categories: Public Opinion

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