You know what would make our universities collapse?

If all the faculty announced that we’re only going to work 10 hour days, and we don’t work on weekends anymore. Boom, done. We’d have to hire lots of new faculty and our administrators would all faint and the state government would denounce us all as socialists even worse than the do already and cut off our funding.

It’s not going to happen, of course, because we like our work and we’ve been indoctrinated thoroughly about our responsibilities. I was just thinking about that, though, as I was getting organized for a weekend to be spent completely rewriting a couple of upcoming genetics labs, because of new pandemic restrictions. What is it like for people who get to put down all their tools at 5pm on Friday and go home and just read a book or watch TV or take naps or play with the kids?

It could be worse, though. I could be getting paid minimum wage to do stoop labor or heavy lifting, and my weekend is spent in pain trying to recover so I can go back and do it again on Monday.

We should fix all that and recognize and respect labor of all kinds and maybe rip those profits out of the hands of the parasites who do nothing all week long.


  1. Snarki, child of Loki says

    “the great thing about academia is the flexible working hours. You can work ANY 14 hours a day you want!”

  2. Bruce Fuentes says

    This seems to be a problem with a lot of professional positions, At no time will I or am I complaining about what my wife gets paid, but her schedule always drives me crazy. For a doctor he has a great schedule. She is the medical director at a community health center. She has no overnights, minimal phone call. She was hired to work 3 1/2 days clinical and 1 day administrative. She has about a 20 minute commute. She leaves home by 6:45 in the the morning and is rarely home before 5:45. On her 1/2 day she gets home about 3:30-4 instead of the usual. Weekends are usually a few hours of catching up on charts and administrative duties.
    She gets paid very well. Not as well as doctors in private practice or those working for the big hospital networks, but it is much more than I have ever made and it gives us a very comfortable lifestyle.
    Like you, my wife loves her work and has been indoctrinated in that is how things are. Until we deal with the parasites at the top this will never change.

  3. William George says

    I work seven hours a day five days a week and at 50 I’m ready to take my meager savings and retire to some shack in the wilds of Canada. I crunched the numbers. I can afford the shack/ tiny home and everything needed for off-grid living easily. It’s buying even a tiny parcel of land and paying the property taxes that’s putting this beyond my reach. Probably forever.

  4. Bruce Fuentes says

    I go fishing up near Armstrong, ON during the summer. The family of one of my best friends owns a fly in fishing business. I just have to get myself 3 hours north of Thunder Bay and I get to experience a week of great fishing with no cell phones and no internet. Because of COVID, I couldn’t go last year and thinking probably can’t this year. There is a lot of open land up that way that can’t be too expensive and taxes should be quite low. The good thing about land up that way is that you are not going to get the second home crowd you get in MN and WI. Maybe you could get a hold of on of the First Nations reserves to see if they have land available.
    There are more and more people doing something similar here in NW WI. The problem is land and taxes here are quite high. Not sure what it is in northern MN, probably the same.

  5. jrkrideau says

    My local Canadian university has certified two unions for TAs and research associates in the last 5 years. I am waiting for the “Faculty Association” to become CUPE XXX very soon.

    An informant tells me that people managing Research Associates are in shock.

  6. says

    I still remember when Gov. Jerry Brown was in cost-cutting mode and announced he was limiting pay increases for professors at California’s public universities because they enjoyed the benefit of “psychic dollars.” Certainly the UC professors weren’t reduced to penury, but the notion that teachers should focus on supposed job satisfaction instead of suitable compensation has often been stretched out of shape. In my college district, faculty members who teach extra classes are paid less for those classes than for the classes in their regular load. Overtime? What the hell is overtime??

  7. magistramarla says

    Yeah! When I was teaching in a high school my husband often commented that I worked much harder and longer hours than he did. I was at the school by 6:30 am, to enter grades, meet with students, and set up for the day.
    I taught six classes a day, from Latin I to Latin IV AP. I rarely left the school before 5pm. I used the time after school to tutor students, call parents, do some grading and planning and to supervise after-school groups, such as Junior Classical League and the Gay-Straight Alliance (No other faculty member in the school would supervise those wonderful kids).
    During evenings and weekends, besides cooking, shopping and laundry for my family, I sat with my laptop, grading, lesson planning, etc.
    My husband, an electrical engineer, had one of those 9 to 5 jobs, and had his evenings and weekends for his personal projects.
    And don’t even get me started about spring break (usually spent escorting students to state contest),or summer break (usually spent attending required professional development classes, escorting students to national contest, and of course, doing lesson planning and prep work for the next year).
    I loved my work, but it’s a real shame that teachers are not paid at anywhere near the same level as other well-educated professionals and given the respect that they deserve.

  8. stroppy says

    bcw bcw @ 6

    You beat me to it! I was wondering the same thing.

    A cat ancestor may have derived some benefit from it, but whether that was from selective pressure?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  9. Stuart Smith says

    If Covid has taught us anything it should be that there is no aspect of our system that could withstand a general strike for even a short time. The issue is creating the kind of class solidarity that would allow us to pull off such a thing in the first place. But until we can tear down that system, any time you feel any sense of responsibility to your work, any time you find any enjoyment or satisfaction in what you do, it will be used against you to suppress your wages (either by obtaining free work or by literally paying you less, usually both.) That’s life under capitalism, baby.

  10. anxionnat says

    I was an adjunct back in the good old days (the 90s) when we actually made a bit more than the minimum wage. No office space (I met students in the library), no prep time, no paid health insurance (though on one campus we got to use the student health center for free. A good thing because I got pneumonia that year.) Everything other than just lecturing was on our own time. Had to pay the dept for copies of syllabi, computer time, and such. Had to pay the colleges for parking, and couldn’t use the faculty lot. And there were a lot fewer of us than there were tenure track faculty and lecturers with security of employment. Now, I understand we are in the majority in many depts, still no perks. A little bird told me that the student health center at that one campus is now off-limits to adjuncts. On some campuses adjuncts get paid less than or about the same as TAs. Might as well have worked at McDonald’s except that they wouldn’t hire me–“overqualified”, dontcha know. I should add that most adjuncts I knew then had the same degrees and experience as tenure track faculty, though more of us were female and people of color.. At one campus I worked at, I was the only white adjunct. I still wonder why I went through the trouble of getting a degree and doing the research, though I guess the experience was good for arguing with my landlord when he wants to raise the rent. I certainly never made enough to retire on, or buy a home, or rent anywhere but the scuzzy part of town, or start a family, and at least a couple of times had the electricity turned off for non-payment–that’s how poorly we adjuncts were paid, then and now. The case of the adjunct faculty member, who worked that job for 30 years and died in the car she was living in, will haunt me til the end of my life. Fortunately (?) I was diagnosed with a disability that made it impossible for me to work, and I ended up on disability, where I bring in more per month than I did as an adjunct 20+ years ago. And, oh yeah, we were supposed to be doing the job because we loved the work or something.

  11. dorght says

    A great philanthropic use of Mackenzie Scott’s billions would be funding organization of labor unions for Amazon facilities in the US. Then tackle Walmart. Then the workers supplying the products to them.
    Who would of thought that communist countries would need to have labor unions to protect the workers and elevate their standard of living.

  12. says

    the notion that teachers should focus on supposed job satisfaction instead of suitable compensation has often been stretched out of shape.

    Nope, nope, nope.
    I love my job, but I won’t be bullied to work myself into burnout by cries of “won’t you think of the children”. I will also not neglect my children for the sake of somebody else’s children. Because I am a professional, not a catholic Saint.
    I don’t mind the irregular stuff, the times when days are long, but I also reserve the right to slow down at other times. Though the one year at my school without Covid I had two full weeks of overtime by the end of the year that I didn’t get to take.
    I also insist on being paid. Thankfully Germany does that at least. If I see the pittance they pay American teachers it’s a wonder you even get any people at all. I suppose they start out as true enthusiasts who work themselves to the bones for a few years and then either burn out and leave or burn out and become sadists.

  13. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @16: What I find hilarious about the notion is that it completely destroys the argument for economic inequality.

    We only ever hear the argument that people should work as hard as they can and be satisfied for some of the most important tasks. Teachers, doctors and nurses, even garbage people.

    So either investment bankers have a job that is just as important, and they should also work for just as little for the satisfaction… or they don’t, and then their claim for why they should be paid goes away.

  14. says

    I talk to people in sad hard circumstances that need help, rapidly one after another for 40 hours a week. But I do get to limit that to 40 hours, and I’m quite grateful. Sorry about the burn.

  15. Anja says

    This is a huge part of why I left academia. Science isn’t a monastic calling. I nearly worked myself to death in grad school. I don’t care if I love parts of the academic life, I’m not ok with it being my entire life.

  16. garnetstar says

    Same here. My unversity even has a faculty union, and negotiates for a 40-hour work week for us. As if!
    And, my family can never understand: they say “Are you working too hard? Take it a little easier.” They don’t understand that working too long is my job, there isn’t any easier. As if the amount of work I do it up to me.
    Or, if I’m sick (not with COVID), they say “Take some time off for youself to get better.” They don’t realize that the work must be accomplished regardless, so it’s a choice between doing it while I’m sick or doing it really rushed when I’m better and still doing all the normal work that’s happening then.
    I keep trying to explain, there never is a time in this job when I’m not supposed to be working.

    I was a witness in a court case once (don’t ask), and, in answer to the question “Your department must also expect to you spend some hours per week on your own pursuits, not working for them?”, I said, under oath, No. They don’t.

  17. says

    Garnets tar, you’re in an abusive relationship with your employer and I think you know that. Your family is obviously worried about you and your health, but you frame it as them not understanding your job. It’s not your family that is not supportive, it’s your employer who will not, and I can guarantee you that, lift any finger to help you when you crash.

  18. Jado says

    “…maybe rip those profits out of the hands of the parasites who do nothing all week long.”

    HOW DARE YOU??!!

    If we do that, how will the VP for University Relations ever afford a new vacation home? How will Bond Traders ever get that elusive condo near Aspen or Jackson Hole? How will all these wonderful snake oil salesmen ever get their duly-entitled commissions for selling that snake oil? No one wants a squeaky snake…

  19. garnetstar says

    Gilliel @21, you are right. But, that’s being an academic. The adjunct faculty and the grad students have it a lot worse.

    My familly doesn’t understand that my job is abusive, is what I’m saying. But, you need not tell any academic that their institution will not support them or back them up in anyway. That is absolutely understood by all of us, and that we must fight them to get any sort of rights is as well. We all know that we’re on our own and must look after ourselves.