Despite its claims of proletarian empathy, it turns out that the Modern Language Association (MLA) does not cut many breaks to those struggling within its ranks.
At the MLA’s annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada this year, Margaret Hanzimanolis, an adjunct English professor at De Anza College in California, railed against membership fees to the MLA, and pointed out that such criticisms could be applied to unions as well. She said, “I’m on both sides of the labor question,” but pointed out, “Everyone making over $18,000 a year sends $17 to send upstairs [to the MLA administrators].”
If one makes more than that, the fee rises to $170. A separate but related issue is per-cap fees. A cap, or membership of several caucuses or focus groups within the MLA, is costly.
In her case, as a member of 3 caps, she pays over $500 to the MLA. She complained, “Adjuncts…[get] nothing at national” level even after paying dues. To make her point, “Locals are getting $3 a year to represent us” and yet representation is severely lacking. The adjunct professor blurted, “You see why I’m angry at unions?!”
Too many professors are “holding office hours in their living rooms” and are not being paid for these extra office hours, she said.