SACRAMENTO – On Wednesday, September 9th, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 736, authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D – Thousand Oaks), which will ensure that adjunct faculty are compensated fairly and treated as the exempt professionals that they are.
“I am proud to have developed this piece of legislation collaboratively with both management and labor partners to provide adjunct faculty the same level of professional flexibility as their full-time counterparts,” said Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin. “By establishing a minimum compensation floor, this bill also represents a substantial pay increase for many faculty members and will ensure they can continue benefitting students with their professional experience.”
Due to their advanced education and the nature of the work, adjunct or part-time faculty have historically been paid on a per-course or per-unit basis. Unlike hourly employees, exempt professionals are not required to fill out daily time cards to track hours worked and log required rest breaks.
“AB 736 provides a much needed compensation pathway in California Labor Code for adjunct faculty employed at independent nonprofit colleges and universities. This bill recognizes the critically important contributions of our adjunct faculty to our campus communities, teaching and success of our students,” said Kristen Soares, President of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. “We are deeply appreciative of Assemblymember Irwin for her steadfast support.”
Without the changes reflected in AB 736, many colleges and universities could have been forced to convert adjunct faculty to hourly, non-exempt employees to minimize the risk of expensive litigation stemming from the ambiguity in current law. These lawsuits, typically over technical infractions such as paystub information errors, are redirecting scarce institutional funds away from other important academic services and programming, which also impacts the quality of instruction received by students.
“We are glad to have been able to reach consensus with AICCU to create stability for schools and a minimum pay rate that will rise with inflation, representing as much as a 50% raise for the lowest-paid adjuncts in the state,” said SEIU 721 member Lance Winkle, Part-time Lecturer at Otis College of Art and Design. “AB 736 will help raise the standard for adjunct professors and recognize our value at the very core of the academic mission.”
As an urgency measure, the provisions of AB 736 immediately became law upon the Governor’s signature and will provide much needed clarity to institutions during COVID-19 and the transition to distance learning.