By Laura Fotovich –
John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor, Katie Surrence stood, outside the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, September 27 carrying a sign that read “CUNY needs competitive salaries.” “I am an adjunct and I currently make $3,200 per course. This is kind of obscene considering the amount of work and investment I put into [teaching],” she said.
CUNY faculty and students demonstrated in support of a Public Service Commission Public Staff Congress (PSC) contract that will grant adjunct professors a salary of $7,000 per course.
The demonstrators marched from the New York Stock Exchange to 100 Wall St., the office of CUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson, William Thompson. They chanted “Education is a right! Fight, fight fight!, as they marched.
“CUNY is a wonderful system, but it’s budget has been cut for decades,” said Abby Scher, an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College. “I like teaching my one class a semester, but I would like to make a fair wage,” she added.
The demonstration began at 4 p.m. and lasted almost two hours. Members of the CUNY faculty gave speeches throughout the afternoon.
According to the CUNY/PSC, raising the adjunct salary to $7,000 will require additional funding. Additionally, supporters pushed for granting tuition waivers for the students of full-time faculty and providing better support for the department chairs.
“We are almost a year out of contract and our salaries are not competitive, especially for adjuncts. It’s really shameful what CUNY pays,” said John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor Nivedita Majumdar. “The reason we are fighting is because we believe in what we do and we believe that our students should have the best education,” she added.
“The work we do is really valuable and we’re drastically underpaid for it,” said Hunter College adjunct professor Emily Crandall. “We have this two-tier class system at CUNY where we do a lot of the work and we receive very little reward or recognition for it. It’s a disservice to us and our students,” she added.
The next formal bargaining session for the CUNY PSC is scheduled for October 4. Contract negotiations will continue at this meeting.