PSC and CUNY agree to five-year contract

Stephon Johnson | 11/7/2019, 11:41 a.m.
It took long enough, but the Professional Staff Congress finally has a new contract.
Borough of Manhattan Community College Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

It took long enough, but the Professional Staff Congress finally has a new contract.

This month, PSC and The City University of New York reached a new five-year contract that wins full-time faculty and adjuncts some wage gains. The deal also includes workload restructuring for adjuncts so they can devote more time to working with students individually and holding longer hours.

The contract begins, retroactively, on Dec.1, 2017, and ends on Feb. 28, 2023. The contract now needs approval of the CUNY Board of Trustees and ratification for PSC membership.

PSC represents almost 30,000 full- and part-time faculty and professional staff at CUNY.

“The proposed agreement represents a turning-point in the history of CUNY’s treatment of contingent faculty,” stated PSC President Barbara Bown. “It is a principled and imaginative contract that constitutes a victory for every member of the union—and for CUNY students. The pathbreaking salary increase for CUNY’s 12,000 adjunct faculty will be of national importance in higher education. The proposed contract also offers advances for full-time faculty, professional staff, graduate employees, department chairs and others.”

The five-year agreement increases salaries by more than 10% across the board through annual increases of 2%. Starting pay for adjunct faculty increases by 71%, paying $6,750 per course for adjuncts in the highest title. This results in a new minimum of $5,500 for a three-credit course by the end of the contract. The current minimum is $3,222.

“This agreement reflects the University’s strong and unwavering commitment to its faculty, both full-time and part-time, and staff across our 25 colleges,” stated CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “We are thankful to Governor Cuomo for his leadership and effort to get this done, as it will further strengthen our ability to compete for top-tier faculty to teach our students. Equally as important, all of our faculty will now devote more time to meeting with and advising students and engaging in professional development. This will be crucial to our efforts to increase graduation rates, enhance learning, and remain a premier university.”

CUNY’s faculty and staff will see additional equity raises for full-time college laboratory technicians, entry-level higher education officer employees, lecturers, and full-time CUNY Start and CUNY Language Immersion Program instructors. The agreement also expands financial support for graduate students who teach.

Through a new initiative, CUNY will provide tuition support for sixth- and seventh-year graduate students who don’t currently get tuition support.

The contract agreement concludes a long journey that reached a fevered pitch in the spring.

During student commencements across all CUNY and schools, faculty and staff, along with some students, handed out flyers to parents and other family members attending graduation. The flyers asked parents to contact CUNY’s management and urge them to come to a deal with PSC-CUNY and ask them to devote more funding to the university. Students were photographed holding a sign that said “United for Wage Justice at CUNY” and had the hashtag #CUNYContractNow.

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said PSC constituents can now get back to work knowing they’re financially secure.

“Strong unions fight for big wins for their members, and PSC’s nearly 30,000 members—and their students—have some big wins to be happy about in this contract agreement,” stated Pallota. “From salary increases to professional development funding to a critical breakthrough on the issue of economic justice for adjunct faculty, this contract is a message to staff and students that the PSC truly is invested in the success of CUNY students.”