Broward College Adjunct Professors Make Maximum $16,000 a Year; They Are Now Unionizing, May Strike | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Broward News

Broward College Adjunct Professors Make Maximum $16,000 a Year; They Are Now Unionizing, May Strike

Broward College administration must be brought to account for paying starvation wages to its faculty.

I have taught American government and American history, primarily at Broward College, as an adjunct professor since 2004. Due to unannounced circumstances this semester, and as has been done many times to me in the past, my income was cut in half this term due to arbitrary scheduling of professors at the various campuses. Having been assigned a half load means I earn roughly $200 per week, as opposed to the normal $400 per week I make when I teach a full load. Either way, this is a travesty.

Even when teaching the maximum load of four classes per term, an adjunct can at most make $16,000 per year teaching both the fall and spring terms (the normal full year for full-time professors). This is half of the median income in Broward County.

But the few instructors deemed "full professor" make roughly three times that amount, and receive benefits, simply for teaching one more class and holding office hours. Like many colleges and universities throughout the country, Broward College continues to use adjuncts to provide most of the instruction for students. About 63 percent of the college's teaching staff is made up of adjuncts.

I have been living under poverty conditions for the past ten years. Poverty has been imposed on the adjunct faculty by college administration and, indirectly, by the board of trustees. It is a never-ending struggle to earn enough money to cover my basic living needs. God forbid my car break down, because I had to do everything I could simply to scrounge up the $1,500 to buy it used.

During down terms, when classes dry up, I have to take on the unbelievably frustrating task of simply attempting to navigate the welfare system, trying to get food stamps, and on and on. This is the life we live. Or rather, it is the life that has been imposed upon us by other people, namely, the college administration under President J. David Armstrong.

Armstrong's online bio states that "During the most challenging state budget reductions in the College's history, President Armstrong has managed to balance the budget through efficiencies..." These efficiencies include paying his staff poverty wages. Published reports indicate that as of last year, Armstrong's salary was $454,900. The discrepancy is obscene. But the blame is not limited simply to him but to all who stood by and allowed it to happen.

This gulf between managers and front-line staff is, by any ethical standard, a collective abusive relationship between one group of people against another. And like any type of bullying, it is facilitated not simply by the bullies but by those who stand idly by and have allowed it to happen -- and grow worse -- year after year. These people in positions of power and authority know who they are, and I do not need to name them.