In France, Seasonal Workers With a Ph.D.

Ann McClure's picture

They come in the autumn, when the grapes lie heavy on the vines. They leave in late spring, after the cherries are off the trees in the Pyrenees and the hops harvested in Alsace. Under French law they are considered “saisonniers,” or seasonal workers. But instead of spending their days picking apples, they toil in the university classrooms of Paris, teaching French language and literature, art history and political science.

The use of adjuncts — part-time faculty who have little possibility of tenure or permanent employment — is increasingly common in U.S. colleges and universities. But European law gives workers more rights, and French workers are among the most protected in Europe — unless, it seems, if they work for an American university.

Nadia Malinovich came to Paris 10 years ago. The author of a book on French and Jewish identity, she has a doctorate from the University of Michigan. Yet like many American academics in Paris, she found herself moving through a series of temporary jobs without full benefits or security, and where she was paid only for the hours she actually spent in the classroom.

She has taught at a University of California program in Paris and New York University’s Paris center.

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