Albany, NY — One hundred of New York’s low-wage college faculty members and their colleagues rallied at the State Capitol to demand a fair salary for teaching at CUNY.
“Fair pay for adjunct faculty at CUNY is an issue of both wage justice and educational justice,” said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, the union of CUNY faculty and staff. “Thousands of CUNY faculty members live on near-poverty wages. Some are on food stamps. That’s not justice for working people and it’s not justice for CUNY students. Their education is worth more than poverty pay. CUNY students deserve professors who are paid fairly and who have working conditions that allow them to give students the time and support essential for academic success.”
Adjunct lecturers at CUNY earn an average of $3,500 per course, about a third of what a full-time lecturer earns. Many teach at multiple campuses to make living, and are hard pressed to devote extra time to CUNY students. Those adjuncts who support themselves exclusively with their CUNY pay typically earn between $20,000 and $32,000 per year, despite their advanced degrees.
“I work full-time hours as an adjunct for near-poverty wages. Much of the essential work I do, like mentoring and providing individual attention to students, is unpaid. I should never have to choose between volunteering to meet with a student for extra help outside of class and working a paid side job instead,” said Carly Smith, an adjunct teaching at Baruch College. “CUNY is in a crisis when the majority of its faculty are forced to make these choices every day. It’s an unsustainable economic and educational injustice for both faculty and students.”
The rally on the Capitol’s Million Dollar Staircase was part of a $7K Advocacy Day during which adjuncts met with legislators to explain why fair pay for CUNY adjunct faculty is essential for student success. CUNY salaries are bargained with the university’s central administration, but inadequate funding from Albany is at the root of the problem. The union campaigned for additional funding for adjunct pay in the FY19 state budget.
Per-student state investment in CUNY senior colleges has declined 18% since 2008, when adjusted for inflation. After years of disinvestment, CUNY relies on 12,000 underpaid adjunct faculty to teach the majority of its classes.