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International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine


2016 Final PDF

Examples of teacher exploitation and wage theft from a recent academic contract

: Per the payment stipulations, this

professor is clearly an independent contractor (“you are paid $X for teaching Course X” for X hours per week, with no payment

for preparation), but the school has placed a burden of responsibilities that are inappropriate. This is a very clear example of

“independent contractor misclassification”, also called “wage theft”, “payroll fraud”, and “1099 fraud” because the university is

failing to pay for all of the obligated work and is therefore failing to pay appropriate taxes and employee benefits; this not only

cheats the professors, but it also cheats the government and society from the appropriate taxes and societal distribution of

money to support infrastructure and the economy. In this example, we will assume that these requirements are for a professor

paid a modest hourly rate for teaching a 3-credit course on a weekly basis; that is, 3 hours of teaching per week, with the

preparation of materials performed

for free

for the university since most schools pay for teaching/contact hours but not for

preparation. A university that fails to pay for curation of materials is not a true university, but rather a collection of pay-per-

delivery courses, subsidized by the professors’ own goodwill and with financial support from other sources.

Quotes from academic contract

Real-world commentary

“Meet with instructional associates, lecturers

and teaching assistants, if applicable, to plan

course of instruction.”

Notice here that the university has created an open-ended obligation,

stating that the professor has a “responsibility” to fulfil these duties,

which could easily require additional travel and meetings totaling hours

or days of unpaid work.

“Submit textbook and supply requirements as

directed by Academic Director.”

Reasonable, provided that the channels are efficient; however, if the

“Academic Director” wants to have an extended conversation or

micromanage the materials, then the professor is trapped in hours of

back-and-forth with zero compensation.

“Prepare instructional materials (handouts,

quizzes, exams).”

For many adjunct professors, teaching

at a university means constant pressure

and performance, for less than minimum

wage—about US$7 per hour.


Notice that by failing to pay for preparation time, the university is seeking

to gain the expertise of a professor without sustaining the expertise of

that professor. Updating materials for a presentation can easily require

2-10 hours per hour of delivery; for a professor paid only per teaching

hour, their apparent actual income can easily be reduced by 50-90%.

Note also that this disproportionately penalizes the professors who want

to teach new information, because the more they learn and prepare, the

less they can afford to do so. This is deincentivization for performance; it

encourages laziness and lack of thought and innovation.

“Coordinate, review and grade all homework

papers and exams.”

Unpaid work makes professors less inclined to make assignments that

will help students learn; just make it easy for students to pass the class

in order to salvage some reasonable hourly salary.

“Return all assignments to students with

feedback appropriate to the assignment.”

More hours of unpaid time; students lose access to conversations when

professors have to provide out of class hours for free.

“Prepare written evaluation of students’

performance (if appropriate to your program).”

Again, more hours of reflection, writing, correspondence, and dialogue—

at the expense of the professor but to the benefit of the university.

“Record and submit student grades to

Registrar in a timely manner and as directed.”

Reasonable and hopefully automated; professors are more likely to give

multiple choice exams that can be graded by machines rather than

reflective essay questions that require demonstration and organization of

more complex thought.

“Attend Student Progress meetings and

academic and/or clinical evaluation meetings

overseen by the Academic Director (or

designee) as applicable.”

This is an impressive and daunting request—imagine a professor paid

for 3 hours of teaching having to teach those 3 hours per week and then

prepare for, travel to, and engage in meetings that last 1-3 hours. Again,

this is financially disastrous for the professor, while the school gets free

faculty support.

“Be available for individual coaching/advising

of students as required.”

More—and endless—hours of engagement. The school gets a free

professor, while that same professor is now making about $9 per hour.

“Maintain consistent office hours (if

appropriate to your program) on or off site.”

More time commitment without compensation.

“Prepare and distribute Notices of Faculty

Concern, Contracts for Incomplete

Coursework and Change of Grade forms,

including communication with the Registrar.”

More time commitment without compensation.

“Monitor all Incompletes and dates on which

work is due. Submit Change of Grade Forms

to Registrar within one week of completion


More time commitment without compensation.

“Take regular attendance as applicable; if

attendance records are maintained by a

designee, review the record to confirm

accuracy. Notify Registrar immediately if there

are students attending the class that are not

enrolled in the course.”

Reasonable, if efficient, but still time-consuming

The current trend of higher tuition fees and institutional

profiteering, combined with underpaying faculty who actually do

the work for evermore demanding and ill-prepared students is