Author: Jennifer Chancellor

USS Overwhelmingly Passes Resolution in Support of CUNY Adjuncts

On September 27th, the University Student Senate, which is comprised of delegates from all CUNY campuses, overwhelmingly approved (with only one abstention) a resolution in support of adjunct faculty. The statement points to the vital role part-time faculty play in the functioning of CUNY and calls on Chancellor Milliken to recognize that fact by ensuring adjuncts receive significant raises in the next contract, with the goal of movement toward pay parity for a more equitable CUNY.

The full text of the resolution can be found below. Thanks so much to Cecilia Salvi, delegate from the Graduate Center, for composing it and bringing it to USS for a vote:

Resolution in Support of CUNY Adjuncts

WHEREAS the University Student Senate (USS) is the duly elected representative organization of all students at the City University of New York (CUNY),

WHEREAS the mission of the USS is “to preserve the accessibility, affordability and excellence of higher education within the City of New York and to protect the rights of the student body and to inform them when their rights are threatened, to further the cause of public higher education and to promote the general welfare of its student constituents and the University,”

WHEREAS the mission of CUNY is, in part, “to maintain and expand its commitment to academic excellence and to the provision of equal access and opportunity for students, faculty and staff from all ethnic and racial groups and from both sexes. The City University is of vital importance as a vehicle for the upward mobility of the disadvantaged in the City of New York,”

WHEREAS CUNY has some 540,000 students and employs some 13,000 adjuncts;

WHEREAS a significant number of Graduate Center (GC) students adjunct to subsidize their graduate studies and living expenses, whether solely or in addition to graduate assistantships, especially those students who entered the GC prior to 2013;

WHEREAS adjuncts comprise 59% of the CUNY faculty but earn only 29-38% of what full-time faculty earn;

WHEREAS the starting salary for CUNY adjuncts for a three-credit course is approximately $2,700, and the average is about $3,275;

WHEREAS increasing adjunct salaries would inhibit CUNY from relying on adjuncts as cheap labor and significantly close the salary gap between adjunct faculty and full-time faculty;

WHEREAS CUNY students have increasingly paid more for their education through rational tuition and various fee increases, and senior college tuition has increased 31% since 2011, but students have not directly benefited from those increases through greater student-to-teacher ratios, and in fact have experienced an overall decline in university services;

WHEREAS these austerity measures disproportionately harm working-class students and students of color, since more than half of CUNY undergraduates have family incomes of less than $30,000 a year, and 75% of CUNY undergraduates are Black, Latino or Asian, and these measures run contrary to the mission of CUNY stated above;

WHEREAS adjuncts are consistently subjected to unpredictable working conditions, including but not limited to late pay, classes cancellations, lack of rehiring, disproportionate class sizes that vary by campus and department, and inadequate access to instructional resources;

WHEREAS contracts for CUNY faculty and staff expired in 2010, and there have been no raises since 2009;

WHEREAS the working conditions of CUNY’s adjuncts and doctoral student workers are the learning conditions of its undergraduate and graduate students and the failure to produce a contract or make pay commensurate with that of other institutions of higher learning endangers the quality of education;

Be it RESOLVED that the University Student Senate supports all adjuncts, especially those who are also doctoral students within CUNY, in their demands for better wages and working conditions, and for a fair and equitable contract that protects worker rights and academic freedom;

And be it further RESOLVED that the USS calls on Chancellor Milliken to negotiate with the Professional Staff Congress, the faculty and staff union at CUNY, for a significant raise in the starting salary per three-credit course for CUNY adjuncts in current and ongoing contract bargaining as determined in negotiation by the Professional Staff Congress (PSC);

And be it finally RESOLVED that the USS calls on CUNY to bargain this demand in good faith, since more equitable salaries and working conditions for CUNY adjunct faculty benefit all staff, students and faculty, especially the University in an effort to preserve the “CUNY value” of affordability and accessibility for all.

Petition to End the 9-6 Rule

CUNY colleagues,

As you are probably aware, there is a rule in the PSC-CUNY contract limiting adjunct faculty to teaching 9 credits at one CUNY college and 6 credits at a second CUNY college each semester. Though it has been argued that this policy protects adjuncts, it is in actuality a hardship for most part-time faculty members, as it results in additional travel time and cost and makes scheduling more difficult. More importantly, an increasing number of campuses are offering 4-credit courses, making it nearly impossible for adjuncts to get enough work to make ends meet.

Because this policy does more harm than good, it must be changed. We therefore call on full- and part-time faculty, staff, and graduate assistants to sign and circulate this petition demanding that the 9-6 rule be rescinded in ongoing contract negotiations.

http://contingentrep.commons.gc.cuny.edu/…/petition-to-eli…/

As we continue the fight for a good contract, we must also fight to ensure that it is a fair contract for ALL CUNY employees.

 

Progress on Late Pay (?)

As you might recall, in December last year, members of The Adjunct Project met with various administrators at The Graduate Center to discuss possible solutions to the longstanding late pay crisis within CUNY. One of the promises made at that meeting was that the Provost’s Office was going to request a meeting between representatives of The Adjunct Project and HR staff from the GC and other CUNY colleges at the Central Office in early 2014. The goal would be to impress upon those responsible for submitting Adjunct paperwork the importance of doing so on time and work with them to identify and prevent potential hindrances to doing so.

We have just learned that these meetings did occur (without us), resulting in a set of “best practices” to ensure that adjuncts will be paid on time in the future. In case you don’t have time to read the entire memo, there are two key points and one major caveat.

First, each college has been asked to appoint one person who will be responsible for overseeing all steps of the adjunct pay process to ensure timely payment.

Second, in cases of late hire, colleges are directed to inform the affected adjuncts when they will be paid and that they are eligible for an advance.

However, it is important to note that adopting these policies is voluntary: “The college may adopt these procedures or develop its own, but every effort should be made to ensure that adjunct faculty are paid promptly.” While it is encouraging that CUNY Central is taking measures to address the late pay problem, the optional nature of this program at the individual college level is troubling. We sincerely hope that none decide to interpret “every effort” as “we’re already doing everything we can.” We’ll be watching.

 

Graduate Center Student Worker Contract Demands

Over the past several weeks, The Adjunct Project circulated a survey regarding three demands for contract negotiations slated to resume between the Professional Staff Congress and the City once Bill de Blasio takes office as Mayor in 2014. These demands were written in response to issues that have repeatedly been raised by Graduate Center students and include parental and medical leave, penalties for colleges who fail to pay their employees on time, and benefit transfers for those transitioning from Graduate Assistant to Adjunct titles. The three proposed demands were overwhelming approved by the hundreds of students who responded to the poll, and based on respondents’ comments, a fourth demand was added to remove restrictions on the number of credits an Adjunct may work in a semester.

The revised demands were submitted December 11 to PSC President Barbara Bowen, in hopes that they will be adopted by the union. We will provide an update once we receive a response.

Update on Late Pay

On December 10 at 4 pm, members of The Adjunct Project met with representatives from the Graduate Center’s Offices of the Provost, Human Resources, Payroll, and Student Affairs to brainstorm and discuss ways to implement measures that could ensure on-time payment of Graduate Assistants and Adjuncts throughout CUNY and mitigate the impact of late pay in situations where it is unavoidable, as in the case of a late hire. The meeting was chaired by Louise Lennihan and yielded a number of valuable insights and suggestions. What follows is a brief summary of the group’s findings and actions to be taken.

Within the GC:

  • Interim Provost Lennihan is going to request more money (amount to be determined) from the CUNY Foundation board to provide more full advances for those who are to be paid late via Financial Aid, and that the advances would be provided regardless of reason–i.e., even in cases where students failed to accept their awards in a timely fashion, etc.
  • The payroll office is willing to issue larger advances (70% instead of 60%) for those who are to be paid late via payroll; they stated that though 100% net pay advances are not possible because payroll cannot accurately calculate taxes, health insurance premiums, and union dues prior to the actual check being issued (meaning that if they got it wrong, students could wind up having to repay more than one check), 70% of gross would roughly approximate 100% of net.
  • It recently came to our attention that community college adjuncts who are paid late through the GC are not receiving late pay in a lump sum as they have in the past, but rather, the money owed is being divided into equal parts and distributed in each subsequent check, meaning that the person is not “made whole” until the end of the semester. The representative from payroll was unsure whether this was an internal decision or an external directive but is going to find out and attempt to rectify the situation.

CUNY-wide:

  • The Provost’s Office is going to request that several of the meeting’s attendees, including representatives of The Adjunct Project, get “invited” to meetings of HR staff from other CUNY colleges at the Central Office in early 2014. The goal would be to impress upon them the urgency of submitting Adjunct paperwork on time and work with them to identify and prevent potential hindrances to doing so. We will also discuss with them the importance of GC students using the title Doctoral Student Adjunct, particularly in the case of community college adjuncts, who need to be identified so that they can be transferred to the GC payroll.

We will continue to provide updates on these measures as they develop. Thanks again to all of those who have participated in the effort to end late pay!

Take Back CUNY! Friday, Nov. 15 at 4 pm

 

Take  Back  CUNY!

Take back CUNY pic

 

Join students, faculty, staff, and community in a strategic dialogue to resist:

– militarization  of CUNY with Petraeus, ROTC, research, and recruitment

– theft of student & community spaces

– turning colleges into corporations

– repression of activism and dissent

– labor exploitation

Friday, November 15th, 4pm-7pm

CUNY Graduate Center

365 Fifth Avenue at 34th St. Room C201/C202 (basement level) light refreshments

co-sponsored by Free University – NYC, PSC-CUNY International Committee and union members, New

York Students Rising, Students for Educational Rights, the Adjunct Project, RSCC,  Ya-Ya Network.

Contact FreeUniversityNYC@gmail.com for more info.

In  Memory  of  Jean  Anyon,  1941 – 2013,  Scholar  of  Radical  Possibilities

Meeting with the President on Late Pay

On Wednesday, October 30 at 4 pm, a delegation of Graduate Center students, including members of the The Adjunct Project and The Doctoral Students’ Council, met with Interim President Chase Robinson during his office hours to discuss the problems of late and missing pay that have plagued the CUNY system for years. The goals of the delegation were to bring the scope and severity of the problem to the President’s attention, request swift action on behalf of student workers who are missing pay for services rendered during the Fall 2013 semester, and devise a solution to ensure that student workers and all contingent academic laborers are paid on time every semester.

The delegation first presented President Robinson with three polls taken by The Adjunct Project regarding late pay: one for Graduate Assistants, one for students working in Adjunct titles who are paid directly by the CUNY colleges where they teach, and one for students working in Adjunct titles at CUNY community colleges who are paid through the Graduate Center. In response to the question, “When did you receive your first paycheck of the Fall 2013 semester?,” 88 of 199 students polled reported being paid later than the first pay period for their title, while 19 more reported not having been paid at all as of October 17.

Next, various students shared stories with the President regarding the impact late pay has had on them personally. Representatives also read stories submitted via email by others who could not attend the meeting. Students reported being forced to borrow money from family and friends, having to take cash advances on credit cards in order to pay rent, racking up large credit card bills for other essential expenses, and working extra hours at off-campus jobs in order to stay financially afloat while waiting to be paid by the University. Students also recounted that as a result of the financial strain, they experienced severe stress and their studies and general quality of life suffered, which one student said caused her to seek extended counseling.

After listening to the delegation’s report, President Robinson promised to seek immediate remuneration of students who are still owed money by the University. The Adjunct Project collected information to send to the President, which was submitted on Monday, November 4.

As for a long-term solution, the President suggested a meeting comprised of students; members of the payroll, human resources, and financial aid departments at the Graduate Center; and himself. The meeting would seek to improve and clarify current processes, which would then be communicated to equivalent offices on other CUNY campuses.

In a separate item, the delegation also presented the President with a 600-signature petition against the CUNY Board of Trustee’s draft policy on expressive activity that was recently leaked to the public. President Robinson said he was unaware whether or not the document represented current thinking among the Board, but he assured the delegation he would communicate the sentiments of Graduate Center students to the Board of Trustees at his next meeting with them.

Members of The Adjunct Project and The Doctoral Students’ Council are working diligently to ensure that these measures are carried out. If you are a Graduate Center student and need assistance getting paid, or if you would like to get involved in this or related projects, please email theadjunctproject@gmail.com, or subscribe to the listserv by sending a message to listserv@gc.listserv.cuny.edu with SUBSCRIBE ADJUNCT-L in the body of the email.

UPDATE: On November 22nd, a group of students met with PSC officials to discuss possible next steps toward solving the problem of late pay. On December 4th, the Office of the Provost provided a status report to The Adjunct Project regarding individual student issues, all of which, to our knowledge, have either been resolved or are on a course to be resolved. On December 10th, the follow-up meeting with Interim President Robinson and GC Payroll, Financial Aid, and Human Resources staff will be held to discuss procedural means of ensuring that Graduate Assistants and Adjuncts are paid on time. In addition to these internal efforts, The Adjunct Project is currently organizing with representatives from other CUNY colleges to address this issue systemwide.

Campus Equity Week, Oct. 28-Nov. 2

CEW13Campus Equity Week is a nationwide event to raise awareness of the inequitable state of academic labor, as well as related issues, such as the student debt crisis and the corporatization of the university.

This week, please consider teaching one of our lesson plans or assigning an article about adjuncting to your students. Also, pick up a button bearing one of the two logos shown here from your program lounge, the office of the Doctoral Students’ Council (room 5495), or our office door (room 5498) at the Graduate Center. When your students ask what the scarlet “A” stands for, tell them what it means to be an adjunct. The article about Margaret Mary Vojtko, “Death of an Adjunct,” can be found here.

As part of our efforts, we are also assembling a IAmMargaretM-copydelegation to speak to Interim President Robinson about late pay during his office hours on Wed., Oct. 30, at 4 pm in room 8201.06.

Finally, in order to increase the collective power of GC adjuncts in our union, the Professional Staff Congress, we are striving to fill the seats of the GC chapter, which are currently vacant. Please consider filling out a union card, which can be found on our office door, with The Graduate Center as your affiliation, or email us if you are interested in serving on the GC union slate.

Thank you for helping us work toward a more equitable future!

In solidarity,

The AP Team

 

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