CUNY faculty and staff march for pay raise. (psc-cuny.org)
There are big changes that are on the horizon for 12,000 CUNY adjuncts who have been fighting for better pay, job security, benefits, and other working conditions improvements. Nearly the past two years, 30,000 faculty and staff members at the City University of New York (CUNY) have been working with an expired union contract. The Professional Staff Congress (PSC) and CUNY management have finally come to an agreement that now must be approved by union delegates and ratified by members.
Adjuncts, part-time instructors hired mostly on a course-by-course basis, who teach the majority of CUNY courses, will get an increase to their meager near-poverty wage. An intelligent proposed move for this contract is the converting of adjuncts to lecturers, which is CUNY’s title for full-time college instructors who have job security and benefits, but who do not have a research obligation. More significant increases will go to the lowest-paid adjuncts, but every adjunct will receive a substantial raise and the extra paid hours.
Adjuncts are, at the very heart of CUNY, known for teaching most of the beginner math, introductory, and writing classes that are a very pivotal part of a college education. These courses can either motivate a student to continue or discourage them from dropping out.
Although CUNY’s organized adjuncts have faced a struggle at the country’s largest urban university with political powerhouses and economic forces, the current bargaining represents a significant reduction in the gap of inequality between full- and part-timers. A portion of theses raise comes from a traditional hourly increase, yet the other comes from the addition of an “office hour.” Dedicated adjunct CUNY faculty have long-held office hours and patiently met with students but mostly without compensation.
Next Spring, the lowest-paid adjuncts should receive a raise in their per-class pay with an office hour establishing a rise of 39 percent growing to 71 percent by fall 2022; it will increase from $3222 to $5,500. All CUNY faculty and staff will receive raises of over 10 percent if the contract is agreed upon.