According to the 2015-15 Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, released by the American Association of University Professors, part-time adjunct instructors now comprise over forty percent of all faculty appointments in the US (and this does not include graduate student employees or full time non-tenure track faculty, which takes the percentage up to just over 70). Due to their part-time status, most of these adjuncts are not eligible for the kinds of benefits available to their full time colleagues. In terms of pay, studies show that part-time non-tenure track faculty earn between 22 and 40 percent less, on an hourly basis, than tenure-track assistant professors do. As a result, an increasing number of adjuncts find themselves in economically dire circumstances with few opportunities for career advancement. In fact, a 2015 study from the University of California, Berkeley found that 25% of part-time college faculty are on some sort of government assistance.
It is because of the increasing exploitation of adjunct labor in higher education that United Academics is supporting Senate Bill 196 during this 2017 session. The bill intends to alter the criteria used to determine eligibility for health care benefits by aggregating the total hours worked by faculty members at all public institutions of higher education. This would effectively extend coverage to adjunct instructors who cobble together courses from separate higher education institutions, making them eligible for health benefits.