Six weeks with no pay takes its toll

Kim Horner - English Instructor

Kim Horner – English Instructor

Kim Horner

I did not get paid last Friday. I didn’t get paid at the end August either, but as an adjunct instructor, I did not expect to get paid in August, and that makes all the difference.

“Adjunct” is the formal term applied to part-time instructors. Because the number of adjuncts employed in my department depends on student enrollment, we’re essentially on call from semester to semester. We often do not know until the end of one semester if we’ll be working the next. I’m very lucky. I’ve been regularly employed, fall and spring, for nine years in a job I enjoy.

Every semester for those nine years I’ve received my first check four weeks after classes began, and the next four checks at the end of the next four months.

Now, although adjuncts are listed, anonymously, as “staff” on course schedules, the new Banner system apparently decrees that we be paid, once a month, on the identical schedule as full-time faculty. That means four checks instead of five. That means we wait.

Had I been expecting to work six weeks before I got paid, I could have planned for it. Had I been notified at the end of last semester that the new Banner system would necessitate the change in the adjuncts pay schedule, I could have budgeted accordingly. Had I gotten an email or a letter or a phone call over the summer, I would have juggled my bills differently.

But none of those notifications came. If an email message went out, I didn’t get it. No memo waited in my box when I came in the week before classes. No voicemail warned me I’d have to hang on for two extra weeks.

Granted, the change in pay schedule was noted in my contract and granted I absolutely should have read the thing before I signed it. But that contract had been exactly the same semester in and semester out for nine years and as I’d had not so much as a whisper that any change had been instituted, I signed it and returned it without noticing that, although the total salary remained the same as it’s been for the last three years, I wouldn’t be seeing any of it for six weeks.

The end of September is now in sight and with it my first paycheck of the semester, but the problem will recur in the spring semester. Classes will begin the middle of January and adjunct instructors will not get paid until the end of February. Six weeks of winter will pass without a check.

The solution is simple: pay adjunct instructors on a bi-weekly schedule just as secretaries and other staff are paid. If Banner can be programmed that way for them, it can be programmed that way for us.