As someone who didn’t win the brass ring, I very glad I’m not a part of a system that seems to me to be in such a mess. Dean Dad, again, has some clear-eyed analysis of some of the problems in higher ed. Earlier this week, I read an article about someone who turns away grad students because she thinks they have no shot at a job and it’s not fair to lead them astray. I sympathize with adjuncts. I do. I was one. But I’m on the side of a lot of people who say, just walk away. If you don’t get the financial terms you need to make it worthwhile, walk away. The more adjuncts that walk away, the more likely it is that colleges might actually have to figure out an alternative, whether that be to make the tenured and t-t faculty teach more classes or to come up with a way to employ more permanent teachers who have a decent salary and benefits. There are other things to do with your degree.
I have no actual hopes that that will happen, but I think you have a better shot of staging a kind of protest by walking away than by demanding a pay increase. If you’re not willing to leave–collectively–you have nothing to bargain with.