When the IRS is your best ally, then you know you are in a world of hurt. The IRS is now pushing universities to more accurately count the hours adjunct faculty work. Why? Because universities seem to be as scummy as some of the big businesses that are cutting back on the hours of workers to evade the requirements of Obamacare.
Of course, this should not be surprising since the proliferation of adjunct positions is in large part due to the strategies of universities to avoid paying the expenses (that would be benefits) that accrue to tenured and tenure track faculty.
A series of companies have announced that they would be firing workers or cutting hours to avoid Obama care, and my reaction has been to say: well, I guess that is the last time I eat at Wendy's or whatever. The problem here is two-fold: I don't know which universities are and are not manipulating hours to evade Obamacare; and the only threat I really possess is not sending my daughter to such a place. That is a one shot threat. On the other hand, I already have a strong preference to send my daughter to a school that is less reliant on adjuncts. Why? A) Because of my preferences as a professor--I do not want to encourage schools to rely on the non-tenure track; B) I have a belief that adjuncts have much less time to do their job well. If they get paid, on average, less than $3k per class, then they need to teach how many classes to get by? A heap of them. Sure, tenure track folks care about research and have to do service, and big classes can mean that profs do not learn students' names, but I still think that folks like myself can pay more attention to the students with our two or three course load, compared to someone teaching five courses and driving all over the place to teach them.
I do wish that universities, when promoting themselves to potential applicants, would not just list the % of teachers who have terminal degrees (PhDs, MFA's, whatever) but list % of tenure and tenure track folks. That is the 21st century signal that the place cares about the quality of education. Hiring adjuncts to fill in gaps is one thing, but when they become the modal way to deliver classes, then it is clear that cost structures are a higher priority than the creation/dissemination of knowledge.
Again, I am biased in all of this, so take what I say with a grain of salt. Instead, consider that the adjuncts need to rely on the IRS. That says it all.