COD Adjunct Association Requests Equal Pay, Benefits, Flexible Student Schedules

Carmela Karcher

Fueling frustration in the face of adversity.

“The world has changed. The economy has changed,” College of the Desert Adjunct Association’s President Catherine Levitt  said. “We’ve got to recognize the fact that it’s changed. There are ways to make this work.”

In July’s Board of Trustees meeting, College of the Desert Adjunct Association is asking the school to make changes for them and their students.

An adjunct is a part-time faculty member, ranging from people who are just beginning their teaching career to teachers who are easing into retirement.

They currently teach roughly 60 to 70% of classes at the college.

With inflation and post-pandemic life, they are asking for more equal pay relative to their full-time counterparts.

“In lieu of the COLA this year, they offered us what we thought was a very nice 2.5% increase, but it’s not really an increase,” Levitt said. “It’s a one time, off scheduled payment and that one time, off schedule payment then doesn’t add to our future earnings at all. We don’t have the opportunity to bargain for compensation again for another two years, which presents a problem. So, we’re talking about this because we would like to find an alternative solution.”

But that’s not all.

The association is asking for insurance benefits as COVID-19 still poses a threat for those who teach in-person.

“Full time faculty, confidential faculty, full time clerical workers, all administrators and even the Board of Trustees get about $18,000 a year in insurance benefits. We get zero,” Levitt continued. “More face-to-face classes are taught by adjuncts than are taught by full time. So we are being asked to accept the risk of being in a classroom with unvaccinated and untested students. And we are being asked to absorb the cost of this risk ourselves.”

According to Levitt, of the 116 community colleges in California, only 32 schools have no insurance benefits.

COD is one of them.

But she also brought up another concern : a limited class schedule for students who work.

“The faculty has to be more flexible,” she shared. “You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to teach between 10 and 3 every day and the students are going to do what I say.’ That’s not the way it works anymore. The more decision making the students can do, the more that they are actually going to accomplish. We have to, as a whole institution, look at things much more from a student’s perspective rather than from a faculty perspective.”

We reached out to the college, and while they said they could not provide an immediate response, they will give us a statement later this week.

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