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Speaking of adjuncts...

... this is horrific:

On Aug. 16, I received a call from a very upset Margaret Mary. She told me that she was under an incredible amount of stress. She was receiving radiation therapy for the cancer that had just returned to her, she was living nearly homeless because she could not afford the upkeep on her home, which was literally falling in on itself, and now, she explained, she had received another indignity -- a letter from Adult Protective Services telling her that someone had referred her case to them saying that she needed assistance in taking care of herself. The letter said that if she did not meet with the caseworker the following Monday, her case would be turned over to Orphans' Court.

For a proud professional like Margaret Mary, this was the last straw; she was mortified. She begged me to call Adult Protective Services and tell them to leave her alone, that she could take care of herself and did not need their help. I agreed to. Sadly, a couple of hours later, she was found on her front lawn, unconscious from a heart attack. She never regained consciousness.

Meanwhile, I called Adult Protective Services right after talking to Margaret Mary, and I explained the situation. I said that she had just been let go from her job as a professor at Duquesne, that she was given no severance or retirement benefits, and that the reason she was having trouble taking care of herself was because she was living in extreme poverty. The caseworker paused and asked with incredulity, "She was a professor?" I said yes. The caseworker was shocked; this was not the usual type of person for whom she was called in to help.

Of course, what the caseworker didn't understand was that Margaret Mary was an adjunct professor...

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

She was 83.

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quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

One thing you may notice is that there's no mention of Social Security. Depending how adjuncts are classified and paid, which varies in different universities, there may be nothing going into SS and Medicare. That's based on the long-gone days when adjuncting was a very temporary situation for a few young people. They got more money since the employee portion of those taxes wasn't deducted (or the employer portion, of course), and that allowed the employer to pay less since the visible take-home pay was a smidge higher, and everybody was happy. (Not.)

Anyway, now, with over 50% of faculty being permanent temporary adjuncts some of whom have no SS or Medicare, we're going to hear about more and more people like Mary.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

to not deduct Social Security and Medicare taxes UNLESS an employee is participating in a government employee (local, state or federal) retirement plan.

We don't have any adjuncts in either family. (And all the educators in our family are "Boomers," and most even older than Mr A and me--so they've been around when there was such a thing as "tenure.") Didn't realize until I read these posts, just how "lucky" they are/were!

So, the only contact that I've had with adjunct professors was through "online" studies or courses.

One of my adjunct professors was an attorney with his own law practice. At least one other of my adjunct professors, was gainfully employed (but did not divulge details to me). The others--well, didn't know their status.

So my question is:

Can adjuncts "today" (as mine did) hold other positions, or are they at the mercy of their contracts with the colleges that work for--"barred" in effect, from holding down another job, even if that's what is takes to earn enough to live on?

Are adjuncts "allowed to" be members of unions or professional educator's organizations or advocacy groups? Sounds like they need to do some serious organizing.

From what I've read, this practice--contract work--is now "catching on" in the legal field. And more and more young law school grads are accepting "contracts" to perform narrow duties for specified periods of time--often without any benefits (since they are not classified as partners, associates, etc.)

This is truly very depressing . . .

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Just dawned on me that since adjuncts would be considered "self-employed" as "contract" employees--guess that is wouldn't be up to universities to pay Soc Sec and Medicare taxes on them.

But what I don't get, is how do they get out of paying it on themselves?

When Mr. A has been self-employed, as I recall, he was still "on the hook" for these taxes. When he was self-employed, he filed quarterly filings, and later when he was both a wage earner and self-employed receiving residual income from previous work, he filed various IRS "Schedules" to report his self-employment income.

IOW--there was no way that he could escape paying into Social Security, "legally."

It is very confusing. But hey, I'm still trying to figure out "how come" I'm going to "be scr**ed" by Social Security, for receiving a federal pension, LOL!