If This, Then That: The “Quit Your Job” Edition
|April 11, 2013||Posted by Editor under Adjunct Professors, Politics, Work|
If you don’t make enough money to buy groceries and put gas in your car, then quit your job.
If your student loan payment is more than a fourth of your monthly income, then quit your job.
If you’ve been making the exact same salary for the past decade, then quit your job.
If you have to reapply for your position every six months, then quit your job.
If you are nodding in agreement to any of these statements, then it’s time for you to take matters into your own hands and quit your job. Any company that can’t treat its people better than this does not deserve to have employees. These are some of the most basic and simple expectations that any worker can have for her place of employment.
For the past 20 years or so, the American worker’s bargaining power has dropped precipitously. Non-coincidentally, so has union membership. Unions restore economic demand by raising wages and increasing buying power. Demand-side economics holds that by empowering consumers, we can stimulate economic growth. When people have money, they want to spend it. Makes sense. Therefore, when unions raise wages and people have more money to spend, they’re more likely to return it to the mainstream economy.
The flip side of that is the colossal failure known as supply-side economics, sometimes referred to as trickle-down economics. This economic theory believes that, by keeping all the wealth in the hands of the rich few, we will somehow stimulate the economy by creating jobs or something like that. The math here has never really worked.
Where was I? Right, bargaining power for the vast majority of Americans has fallen off the map in recent years. Companies are getting away with more and more now. It’s fairly common for people to work two full-time jobs in order to make even a passable income. And can you blame them?
Minimum wage workers, for example, make $300 a week before taxes. That means they’re clearing around $1000 a month working full time. Rent and health insurance alone would completely wipe out this worker’s monthly net pay. Working 80 hours a week would give him $2000 a month. I dare you to tell this guy that he isn’t working hard enough.
Sometimes You Can’t Quit Your Job, But Sometimes You Can
Unfortunately, this minimum wage worker is probably just screwed for life. He probably doesn’t have much of a choice. However unjust it is, he’s probably stuck in this position until he dies or Congress raises the minimum wage to a reasonable level.
But what about those people who have other options, yet keep allowing their employers to exploit them? Adjunct professors come to mind.
We’re talking about highly-educated and intelligent people with vast skill sets who could easily just get up and walk away. Today. But for some reason they refuse to quit their jobs. Why? Why allow people to use you and give you nothing in return when you have other options?
All four of the “quit your job” scenarios that I opened with at the top of this article fit the description of most adjunct professor jobs.
Exploited adjuncts are forgetting the most important part of the relationship they have to their work, which is this:
Your work is valuable. You are valuable. You have much more to offer a potential employer than you are giving yourself credit for.
Adjuncts are taking the blame for a failed system and internalizing that failure as their own. When we do that, we get it in our heads that we somehow deserve the fate under which we work. Not true. Not even close to true.
Stop accepting exploitation as a condition of your employment. Unlike the minimum wage worker, you have MANY options. Pick one and go do it. Walk away from the system that failed you and then blamed you for that failure. You’re too good for it. When academia decides to respect you and treat you like you deserve to be treated, maybe you’ll come back. If they’re lucky.
But until then, quit your job.
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