Adjunct Faculty Advocacy Group Expresses Concerns Over H1N1 Swine Flu

New Faculty Majority: The National Coalition for Adjunct & Contingent Faculty Fears Many Part-Time Faculty May Report to Work Ill Due to No Health Insurance or Fear of Retaliation for Staying Home

Akron, OH, September 16, 2009 --( New Faculty Majority: The National Coalition for Adjunct & Contingent Equity is expressing its concern for contingent faculty members, often known as adjunct or part-time professors, who may be exposed to the H1N1 Virus (swine flu) but who--due to the often exploitative nature of part-time faculty working conditions at America's colleges and universities--may not have sufficient health insurance to be adequately diagnosed and treated.

New Faculty Majority (NFM) is a recently formed organization which advocates for the interests of adjunct and contingent faculty throughout the United States. Matt Williams, Vice-President of NFM, says, "It's a real shame that many of the nation's most gifted and educated teaching professionals are valued so little by their colleges and universities that they are denied access to affordable health insurance. In those cases where insurance is available to part-time and adjunct professors, the cost to acquire such coverage is often prohibitive. This is the case at The University of Akron, where I teach. I would have to spend between 97% and 118% of my annual take-home pay, depending upon the plan selected, to insure my relatively healthy family of four."

NFM is concerned that this lack of access to health care by adjunct, contingent, and part-time faculty, coupled with little or no job security, may compel part-time faculty at America's colleges and universities to report to work even when feeling ill. According to Maria Maisto, NFM's President, "This is a real and substantial risk. Seventy percent of all collegiate faculty are employed on an adjunct or contingent basis. Many of these workers do not have health insurance, sick leave benefits or contracts that guarantee their employment. If they come to work sick, the potential exists for them to put students at risk of infection. In the case of H1N1 (swine flu), this could be particularly devastating. And we're not just talking about a handful of faculty: there are presently more than 800,000 adjunct and contingent faculty serving on America's college and university campuses. This represents a significant public health issue."

According to a briefing note released last week by the World Health Organization, "Experience to date has demonstrated the role of schools in amplifying transmission of the pandemic virus (H1N1), both within schools and into the wider community." In light of such concerns, NFM is encouraging adjunct & contingent faculty throughout the United States to take precautions such as washing hands frequently and thoroughly, avoiding contact with individuals who may be ill, and calling off sick if they present with flu symptoms. While no panacea, these simple measures can help curb the spread of H1N1 and other variants of influenza during the upcoming season.

Adjunct and contingent faculty are encouraged to report any instances of retaliation by their employing colleges and universities for taking time off when sick. NFM is establishing a task force to review such abuses and is planning a census of human resource practices related to adjunct and contingent faculty on campuses throughout the United States. Anyone with information to share, or who wishes to become involved in this project or to join NFM (membership is free), is encouraged to visit the New Faculty Majority website at

Direct media questions or comments to:
Maria Maisto or Matt Williams at 202-580-8341.

New Faculty Majority: The National Coalition for Adjunct & Contingent Equity


New Faculty Majority: The National Coalition for Adjunct and Contingent Equity is a new, independent national organization for faculty in all disciplines and at any public or private university, college or community college in the US.

NFM is dedicated to achieving professional equity and advancing academic freedom for all adjunct and contingent faculty in American colleges and universities through advocacy, education and litigation. NFM seeks the greatest possible degree of economic justice and academic freedom for all faculty members and is committed to creating equitable, stable, non-exploitative academic environments that improve the quality of American higher education.
New Faculty Majority: The National Coalition for Adjunct & Contingent Faculty
Matt Williams