While I deeply understand the desire for job security for postdoctoral fellows and non-tenure track faculty, I do not feel that unions are the way to go.  The best job security any of us has is doing an outstanding job with our chosen profession.  Tenure itself has little guarantee of job security.  As for ability to negotiate better work conditions, choosing a tenure track position ensures that one will likely work 70-80 hours a week to maintain the position.  This is the life we chose because we love what we do.  Choosing a non-tenure position is almost always a choice that results in a position that allows more control of one’s time spent working.  I am open to hearing more about other positions, but to me, I fear that unionization is not the way for any of us in academia.

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Can you expand on this: “Choosing a non-tenure position is almost always a choice that results in a position that allows more control of one’s time spent working”? The usual narrative when I read about non-TT faculty unionization is that adjunct faculty, who are most of what I read about, have less control over their working lives and tenure allows greater control over one’s time. Well, once you get tenure, anyway. While scrambling to get papers and grants enough for a good tenure portfolio everyone’s working like a dog. Anyway, I’m curious why you think it’s the opposite.

Ann, PhD, MS says:

Thank you for your comments and question. Adjunct faculty fall into a different category from the reference I was referring to which is more from the research prospective from which I see things. From where I see things, if tenured faculty do not continue to perform at the highest level, upon review they can have their salaries cut, lab space taken away, or in some cases dismissed. So the time commitment has to remain at the “working like a dog” level to maintain their position. In my experience, after tenure I worked more and harder, not less. For those in my department who choose the non-tenure track, while their position has no guarantee, the expectation is different in that they develop an agreement as to what they will be able to achieve or accomplish through an individual development plan that is mutually agreed upon, and work accordingly to accomplish those goals. There are many levels for adjunct faculty–unpaid affiliation or contract for teaching a particular course or group of courses. These are usually temporary appointments meant for persons in an interim stage of their career in my experience.

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