“No one should be getting a doctorate and be making less than minimum wage:” Michael Ng explains the goals of unionization

Michael Ng, Ph.D., Lecturer, Department of Languages and Literatures-Classics, three semesters at PLU
Annual Wage: $18,000 without access to benefits

For Michael Ng, Ph.D, unionization is about having a voice.

“You didn’t know who to speak with before because we’re spread out among campus,” said Ng.  He said cretaing a group on campus means that not only can they effectively communicate with administrators, but that other contingent faculty will know who to come to for help. “It’s not malicious, it’s just no one knows how this communication works.”

“We enjoy the interaction with students, we enjoy seeing the lightbulb go off, but it’s difficult to watch colleagues leave,” said Ng, who watched one colleague at another university leave to pursue high school teaching.

To supplement his salary so he can continue to teach small classes, Ng also teaches at 2 other universities.  He teaches a course at a Seattle university, and he also teaches an online course through the University of London. He lamented that having to spread his time between universities takes away from his ability to connect to students on campus through office hours or other extra curricular activities.

“That’s where 80percent of my joy in teaching is, that’s why I teach here and not at some giant university.”

Like colleague Jane Harty, Ng said he hopes that by being one of the first universities on the West Coast to unionize, PLU will be the example for a solution to a nationwide problem.  Ng reported that across the U.S, contingent faculty makes up approximately 75 percent of university educators.

“PLU is a very quality university,” said Ng, who iterates that improving conditions for contingent faculty will naturally improve conditions campus-wide. “But we can always do better, can’t we?”

Categories: Academics, Community, Politics, Profiles, Student Life

1 reply

  1. holy s**t that salary is absurd! what’s going on here.

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