New Contract at CUNY


From the Professional Staff Congress:

New York—CUNY’s 25,000 faculty and professional staff will get a long-overdue raise now that 94 percent of voting members ratified a new union contract, according to PSC President Barbara Bowen, who thanked union members for their hard work and commitment. The agreement between the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) and the CUNY administration includes 10.41 percent in salary increases and retroactive pay for all employees and important job security and health care provisions for adjuncts.

“PSC members have never worked harder for a contract. Thanks to our militant membership the union was able to secure funding for back pay and wrest substantial gains out of CUNY management,”said PSC President Barbara Bowen. “A 94 percent vote for ratification demonstrates that an overwhelming majority of members know that the contract they fought for will make a real difference in their professional lives and in their ability to serve CUNY students.  We have a vision of a university that offers a first-rate education to New York’s working people; the new contract is a step in advancing that vision,” she added. 

The new contract provides 10.41 percent in compounded salary increases over a period of slightly more than seven years, from October 20, 2010 through November 30, 2017. CUNY faculty and professional staff, who have worked for more than six years without a raise, will also receive a signing bonus and back pay—more than three times the back pay originally offered by CUNY. 

It took a hard-fought, public contract campaign and strike authorization vote to win the salary increases. But the campaign also built leverage the PSC needed to negotiate breakthrough provisions on adjunct job security and faculty workload and achieve other gains that will improve teaching and learning conditions at CUNY. 

A record-breaking 72 percent of eligible voters took part in the three-week long ratification vote administered by the American Arbitration Association.  

The contract consolidates gains won by the union between 2010 and the end of negotiations—including paid parental leave, increased funding for faculty research grants and premium-free individual health insurance for qualifying adjuncts. It also introduces the first-ever multi-year appointments for teaching adjuncts at CUNY. The health insurance and multi-year appointments represent major steps toward greater professionalism in the treatment of adjuncts. For the first time, CUNY adjuncts will have access to a system of job security, providing increased stability for academic departments and giving those on three-year appointments guaranteed income and accrued sick days.  More than 86 percent of teaching adjuncts who took part in the ratification vote voted ‘yes’.

Full-time faculty will now have a contractual commitment and a timetable to restructure their teaching loads to ensure that they have the time to mentor students and conduct research. Professional staff in “non-promotional” titles will gain opportunities for advances in pay and title.

“PSC members stuck together to demand a contract worthy of our work and supportive of CUNY’s inspiring students. Because of the campaign we mounted, the community and student support we galvanized, and the resounding vote to authorize a strike, we had the power to make substantial gains even in a period of enforced economic austerity. I am grateful for the members’ strong support for ratification of the contract and eager to begin work on what remains to be done. If we stay organized and remain in solidarity, a better university is within our power—and our power will continue to grow,” said Bowen. 

2 thoughts on “New Contract at CUNY

  1. The fact that the membership ratified the contract does not make it a good contract. It doesn’t keep up with inflation, and the pay for equal work has become even more unequal between adjunct faculty and other faculty teaching the same courses. Maybe that’s why 14% of the adjuncts who voted rejected the contract, while others held their noses and voted “yes” because they need the money now or were afraid of what would happen to them if we went on strike.

    • I agree, Ruth. The inequality will not be changed by any contract, however. That needs a deeper structural reorientation, one that will only come when university systems abandon their decades-old worship of a corporate model that has proven inappropriate for education and that is fading even in the business world.

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