We reprint below a letter to the editor by College of Staten Island adjunct Ruth Wangerin that appeared in the latest issue of The Chief, a newspaper that covers issues of concern to New York State civil servants. Ruth penned this letter in response to a remarkably uncritical article on the proposed contract that appeared in The Chief. If the reporter had done more research, he would not have been reduced to parroting and amplifying the quite partial perspective of PSC leadership—who, after all, can be expected to try and put the best face on the profoundly weak result of their efforts, however sincere and tenacious.
PSC Pact Comes Up Short
We are not impressed … with the PSC contract with CUNY.
While the leadership of the Professional Staff Congress issues brave, optimistic pronouncement about the contract settlement with CUNY, many of the members are stunned by how little we have gained.
This contract increases inequality among CUNY faculty. The majority of faculty (called “adjunct”) teach part-time, for low wages and unequal benefits, and have no job security.
With this contract, the lowest-paid will earn about $3,200 per course—under $30,000 annually for teaching four courses per semester. Although the union had pledged to “move towards pay parity for adjuncts,” the across-the-board percentage increase widens the gap between adjuncts and other faculty.
The contract also allows CUNY to hire more Professors at off-the-scale high wages.
Over many years, adjunct and graduate-student faculty have advocated for better conditions through CUNY Struggle, CUNY Adjuncts and Graduate Student Employees for a Fair Contract, and the Adjunct Project, etc. We have patiently presented our case to leaders of both the union and CUNY.
Adjunct and graduate student faculty have proven we are not selfish, but many of us find that this contract has almost nothing in it for us. Even the much-ballyhooed multi-year contracts will not be available to thousands of adjuncts who cannot meet the stringent (and picky) longevity requirements.
Our union portrays itself as progressive and supportive of social justice, and it is—except when it comes to the majority of its own members.