Stop balancing the MCCS budget on the backs of adjunct professors and full-time faculty

PayEquityNowForMCCSworkers

Camilla Lofving, an adjunct professor at Southern Maine Community College, testifies on her own time May 2 in support of LD 1538, An Act Regarding Compensation Equity for Positions in the Maine Community College System.

My name is Camilla Lofving and I have been an adjunct at Southern Maine Community College for 10 years. During all those years, I have been paid less for my work than my colleagues at York County Community College, despite having the same employer, same job, and quite possibly living in the same city. This is why I urge you to support LD 1538 so you can correct this long-standing injustice. I am speaking to you today to help you understand the situation with adjuncts in the Maine Community College System (MCCS), a group of teachers that perform as much as two-thirds of the teaching and are often told they are so important to the MCCS it would not be able to fulfill its mission without us.

In the 1950s my mother, single and working in New York City as an editor for a well-known publishing house, asked her boss, “Why is the man I work with, who does the same job and has been here less time than I have, earn more than I do?” The answer was the man had a family to support.

Two people, working the same job with the same responsibility for the same employer and both tasked with encouraging and facilitating the authors’ future success, were paid differently. Not just because of their gender, but because of the expenses connected to their living situations.

That might sound old fashioned to people in 2019, in particular in the public sector, but in fact the adjunct pay scale at the MCCS does exactly that by justifying the differing per credit pay rate on a vague notion of the cost of living in the regions the colleges are placed.

Same employer, same job, same responsibilities, same goal – to encourage and facilitate the future of the students of Maine, and yet, so-called “past practices” allows our employer to pay varying pay rates depending on the location of the campus. If “past practices” were a legitimate argument for continuing an unfair wage scale, then thousands of people across the state would be getting lower pay for equivalent work. Why should adjuncts be the only category of employee in the MCCS that the state continues to pay different wages for equivalent jobs?

The geographic location justification for these different pay scales quickly fails when you consider that all other employees in the MCCS get the same pay and students pay the same per credit rate, no matter which school they attend. Why then is geographic location only considered when it comes to adjuncts, a group of employees that are already so low paid that they often qualify for state and federal programs designed to help people in poverty? This practice is fundamentally unfair, and the justification offered for it has no basis in fact. LD 1538 is a step to rectify the grave injustice of what the state pays the people who do the bulk of the teaching in the community college system.

The injustice is further highlighted by considering the fact that the University of Maine System already pays a uniform per credit rate to adjuncts across the state.

It is well documented that adjuncts are not paid what they deserve for the work they devote themselves to. The chronic underpayment of a group of state employees who are highly educated and participating in developing the future work force of Maine is a moral failure.

We stand in front of students encouraging them to finish degrees because college is a way to improve their future earnings, yet there we are, after years of higher education and experience, the lowest paid people on our campuses. How do we expect our students and their future employers to believe in the value of higher education when we are not provided the pay rates that people with graduate degrees are earning?

I’ll leave the demand for being paid the full amount an adjunct is worth to another day and just ask that today you take an important step in supporting the adjuncts that are teaching as many as two-thirds of the classes in the MCCS. It will be a step in the right direction to ensure that they are paid the same for the same job across the state, in the same way that all other employees in the MCCS are.

Thank you for your time today.

Below you will see the current per credit pay rate listed by campus from north to south. The average class is 3 credits.

Appendix A:

MCCS Fall 2018
Base Pay Rates
By Campus:

NMCC — $511.01
WCCC — $528.04
EMCC — $643.88
KVCC — $735.86
CMCC — $754.25
SMCC — $735.86
YCCC — $806.20

Updated: May 16, 2019 — 11:50 am