[ The Professional Staff Congress/AFT is stepping up its campaign
to demand $7,000 per course for Adjuncts at CUNY. ]
[https://portside.org/] 

 PORTSIDE LABOR 

 PSC TELLS ALBANY: ‘$7K FOR ADJUNCTS!’  
[https://portside.org/2018-05-14/psc-tells-albany-7k-adjuncts] 

 

 Ari Paul 
 May 11, 2018
The Clarion
[http://www.psc-cuny.org/clarion/may-2018/psc-tells-albany-‘7k-adjuncts’]


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 _ The Professional Staff Congress/AFT is stepping up its campaign to
demand $7,000 per course for Adjuncts at CUNY. _ 

 After lobbying visits, the PSC contingent rallies in the State
Capitol Building , PSC 

 

With the backdrop of teacher strikes in Arizona and Oklahoma and a
graduate employee strike at Columbia University, the PSC is adding to
the growing wave of education worker activism by demanding that CUNY
adjuncts be paid $7,000 per course. 

Nearly 100 PSC members, full-time faculty and staff, as well as
adjunct instructors, arrived in Albany on April 24 to educate state
legislators about the urgency of ending low pay for CUNY adjuncts and
ask for their support for providing the funding required for the
critical collective bargaining demand. Adjuncts at CUNY, who teach
more than half of the university’s courses, work for near-poverty
wages, the union told lawmakers. With starting pay for a three-credit
course at a little more than $3,000, CUNY adjuncts are paid less than
adjuncts at nearby peer institutions such as Rutgers and Penn State.
The result is an unbearable amount of stress and hardship for union
members and harm to students’ learning conditions.

May Eng, an adjunct teaching mathematics at LaGuardia Community
College and the Borough of Manhattan Community College, delivered an
emotional account of the poverty she and her colleagues endure at a
meeting with representatives of State Senator Jose Peralta.

“I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I visit the food pantry
quite often, and whatever I don’t use, I pass on to the other
adjuncts,” she said. “And I have to wonder, ‘Is this really a
way of life?’” 

A 24/7 Job

Susan Fountain, an adjunct professor of human relations at the School
of Professional Studies, said that one of the best parts of her day
was teaching older adults who might not have had the chance to
complete a degree when they were younger. Many of the people in her
classes, however, are city employees and other union workers, and a
pain settles in when she realizes that though she’s the teacher,
she’s usually the lowest paid person in the room.

“I can forget about that when I’m teaching,” Fountain said.
“But it’s hard to forget when the class ends.” 

Elise Engler, who teaches early childhood education at City College,
noted that the entire concept of paying adjuncts by the number of
hours they teach betrays the true nature of college teaching, which is
really an all-day job, in which the instructor must answer student
emails, write recommendations and grade papers. When one factors in
all the work an adjunct lecturer does outside the classroom, the
current per-course pay rate is barely minimum wage, she said, and
certainly not a living wage. “A lot of the job becomes volunteer
work,” said Engler.

Full-time faculty and staff members also pressed lawmakers, saying the
crisis of pay for adjuncts wasn’t simply a disservice to part-time
instructors or their students, but to the entire institution. 

John Gallagher, director of information resources and technology at
BMCC, in a meeting with representatives of State Senate Higher
Education Committee Chair Kenneth LaValle, said that specialty schools
at CUNY had significant trouble attracting professionals in relevant
fields because of the low adjunct pay at CUNY. Susan Kang, an
associate professor of political science at John Jay College, noted
that it was also hard to attract new talent for the school’s program
in human rights. This trend, she said, was keeping CUNY back from
becoming a world-class university, keeping it behind universities like
Columbia and NYU, which pay part-time instructors far more than CUNY
does.

PSC activists also rallied for $7K on the “million-dollar
staircase” at the state capitol building. 

“None of us should ever have to make this choice, ‘Can I show up
for my students when they most need me or do I have to run to a second
or even a third job?’ It’s absolutely an injustice that this is a
choice we would have to make,” said Carly Smith, the PSC adjunct
liaison at Baruch College, during the rally. “We’re here to stand
up and say, ‘Enough. We need economic justice. We need educational
justice and it’s long past time that we achieve this.’” 

A LONG CAMPAIGN

The demand for $7K was formally entered into the union’s contract
demands last year, but the PSC has pressed for parity pay and benefits
for adjuncts since 2000. The union has achieved the goal of winning
health insurance for adjuncts and graduate employees, has negotiated
for conversion of hundreds of part-time positions to full-time
positions and recently won three-year appointments for long-serving
adjuncts, but the most difficult change to make has been in salary. 

“CUNY survives deliberate underfunding largely because it relies on
low-wage workers to teach the majority of its courses,” said PSC
President Barbara Bowen. “That is a scandal and a slap in the face
to every CUNY student. It’s time for a revolution in CUNY adjunct
pay.”

The dollar figure of $7,000 per course isn’t a random one – it is
approximately the per-course equivalent for an adjunct lecturer of a
starting full-time lecturer.

PSC officials and members said they were inspired by their meetings
with lawmakers, although with the budget already settled, many agreed
that this would be the first among many trips and demonstrations to
force Albany to provide the funding necessary to support this demand
in full in the next contract settlement. The demand already has the
support of many key lawmakers, including the chair of the State
Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, Deborah Glick. 

“It is crucial that we ensure that our adjunct professors receive a
living wage. It is wrong for students to have highly qualified
teachers who cannot stay for an extra hour or half hour because they
have to run to catch a bus or catch the subway to get to another
campus in order to teach another course because they aren’t getting
paid a decent wage at each of those colleges,” Glick said during the
rally. “The state needs to invest more in our public systems.”

The demand also has the support of Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon and
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. 

RACIAL JUSTICE

State Senator Marisol Alcantara offered support to fight for $7K,
adding that she felt there was a historic imbalance between higher
state funding for institutions like SUNY-Stony Brook and underfunding
at places like CUNY, where a majority of students are from the working
class and are people of color. Raising adjunct salaries, she said,
through funding $7K, was a part of addressing that classist and racist
imbalance. 

“Count me as your partner,” she told PSC members at the rally. 

PSC’s First Vice President Mike Fabricant drove the point home in a
message to all state lawmakers: “You champion this campaign, you are
challenging inequality in New York City.”

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