Contract Demands


CUNY Contingent Unite’s Demands for the Upcoming Contract Struggle

We Need a Real Fight Against the Two-Tier Labor System

As the October 2010 expiration date of the PSC’s contract with CUNY approaches, it is crucial that contingent workers at CUNY – the majority of the educational labor force, teaching the majority of courses – mobilize on the basis of clear demands for substantially improving our situation. Formed in Fall 2008 with the goal of “ending the two-tier academic labor system,” CUNY Contingents Unite grew out of the struggle over the last contract, which resulted in “deepening inequality” and raised “important issues of union democracy” (CCU statement of purpose, September 2008).

The university’s ever-expanding reliance on contingent labor highlights the threat to all of us at CUNY posed by the contingent majority’s poverty wages, absence of job security, tenuous health care and lack of basic benefits. Now the contradictions of the two-tier system have come to a head in the crisis over adjunct overload waivers, in which fundamental  labor solidarity requires that no union member have his or her income cut. For contingents, full-timers and our union as a whole, it is imperative that real inroads against the two-tier system be made in the upcoming contract. Long referred to as a priority, the fight against the two-tier system cannot and must not be postponed. Below are the demands that CUNY Contingents Unite has adopted for this contract struggle.

1) Minimum three-year contracts for adjuncts, with documented reasons for non-reappointment and a system of seniority.

2) Wage increase of $30 per credit hour for adjuncts; equivalent for grad fellows and other contingent titles. Step raises every year

3) Comprehensive employer-paid health insurance on par with municipal workers for all contingent employees.

4) Promotional series, real job security and due process for HEOs. 

1) Minimum three-year contracts for adjuncts, with documented reasons for non-reappointment and a system of seniority.
Adjunct employees should not be forced to scramble for jobs every semester, nor should they work in constant fear of being fired. While non-tenured employees remain “contingent,” our demand would provide a minimum level of protection from the vagaries of the CUNY employment system. Inspired by recent gains contingents won in the California State University system, we are demanding a guaranteed three-year contract, together with an enforceable due process system and basic seniority rules. By specifying a “minimum” of three years, the language allows for longer contracts and additional projections for senior adjuncts. Documented reasons for non-reappointment must be given, and the union must be informed of all non-reappointments.

2) Wage increase of $30 per credit hour for adjuncts; equivalent for grad fellows and other contingent titles. Step raises every year.
Contingent faculty at CUNY earn about half the standard recommended by the Modern Language Association, which calls for “a salary range of $6,000 to $8,500 per course section, with fringe benefits and cost-of-living increases, as reason­able minimum compensation for part-time faculty members” (MLA Newsletter, Fall 2006). While we seek to reach and surpass this minimum standard, our demand for the next contract means that an adjunct lecturer at the lowest step, who currently makes $64.94/hour ($2,922/course), would make $94.94/hr ($4,272 per course). While few adjuncts are at the top step of the top rank, for purposes of comparison our demand means that for an adjunct professor at the top step now making $107.04/hr ($4,817 per class), pay would rise to $137.04/hr ($6,167 per course). Thus, adjuncts at lower ranks and lower steps would get a larger percentage increase than their higher-paid counterparts. This is deliberate, as we aim to lessen inequality.

The “equivalence” clause would assume a 2-2 teaching load for Graduate Teaching Fellows. A GTF at the lowest level who now makes $15,822 would see an increase of $5,200, for a total of $21,222.  Step increases, which are now every three years, would be reduced to one-year intervals, allowing most adjuncts to reach the top step after five years of teaching.

3) Comprehensive employer-paid health insurance on par with municipal workers for all contingent employees.

This language strongly implies that all contingents (adjuncts, CETs, and graduate fellows) should be added to the city health plan. This reflects the reality that the city health plan would be a major improvement over both the Welfare Fund plan or the current grad student plan. While graduate students recently won coverage under NYSHIP, many would prefer the city plan if offered a choice. The modifier “employer-paid” is important here, since we oppose the trend to make contingent workers pay growing premiums and/or co-pays.

4) Promotional series, real job security and due process for HEOs.

HEOs need a promotional series comparable to that of full-time faculty. Presently, HEOs do not have real tenure. The “three negative evaluations policy” must be abolished; and in the evaluation and grievance processes the burden of proof for any negative assertions regarding work performance must lie with management, instead of requiring the HEO to somehow disprove negative assertions made against her or him.

Layoffs alert: Ominous rumblings of plans to slash the adjunct budget on at least one CUNY campus have reached The Advance as we go to press. Contact the CCU if you hear of any layoffs!

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