Warning: heavy linkage ahead.
Dean Dad calls attention to Josh Boldt's post and a crowd-sourced Google spreadsheet of per-course payment at a number of institutions. The numbers might surprise anyone who hasn't worked as an adjunct. They sure didn't surprise me, because I have.
They would certainly surprise that Columbia philosophy professor (can't recall his name) who a few years ago caused an uproar by helpfully saying that if adjuncts didn't like getting paid ONLY $6-7,000 per course, why, they ought to go out and get themselves a tenure-track job. He also suggested that maybe we should just let students major in whatever is this year's trend ("water" was one of the disciplines, as I recall). Well, it was better than this, but you get the idea.
Anyway. This is part of MLA President Michael Berube's call for real change in treatment and pay for the new faculty majority: "Adjunct, contingent faculty members now make up over 1 million of the 1.5 million people teaching in American colleges and universities." The MLA has talked about this for a long time, including in its 2009 report, but there seems to be a new seriousness and urgency about it, as there should be; you can read more at New Faculty Majority. (For the record, the places I've taught have really worked hard to ensure long-term contracts, health benefits, and other issues of fairness for contingent faculty.) Somehow this new energy on the part of the MLA makes me think, or hope, that these are steps in the right direction.
The debate seems to have spilled over into the "I've got tenure--how depressing" thread over at the Chronicle, too. As I've said before, "post-tenure depression" frankly baffles me, but then, everyone has different stress or depression points. The comments over at the Chronicle break down into two categories: (1) "I felt the same way, too" or (2) "You have a full-time job! How DARE you complain?" [Note: Dr. Virago has a good take on this in the comments.]