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Better Working Conditions for Contingent Faculty Members: An MLA Guide

Most college and university classes in the United States and Canada are taught by faculty members who are not on the tenure track. These contingent faculty members often lack job security, teach too many classes for too little pay, and have little say in the governance of departments and institutions.

In 2011, the MLA’s Committee on Contingent Labor in the Profession (CLIP) issued a document that addresses the need to improve the professional standing of faculty members who hold non-tenure-track appointments. The CLIP document “presumes that establishing long-term, regularized positions for as many faculty members as possible is in the best interest of institutions and higher education generally.”

Building on previous work by the MLA, including the Academic Workforce Advocacy Tool Kit and the 2003 Statement on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members, the CLIP document seeks to “help faculty members, departments, and institutions identify areas of policy and practice where progress has been made and where change can and should be sought.” These areas include hiring and assessment, compensation and professional advancement, professional rights and responsibilities, professional development and recognition, and the integration of non-tenure-track faculty members into the life of the department and institution.

The MLA urges departments to use the document “Professional Employment Practices for Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members: Recommendations and Evaluative Questions” to assess their own practices.

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