CUNY staff members and students rallying (193642)
Credit: Contributed

The City University of New York and its faculty and staff have agreed to a tentative contract after years of fighting.

According to the Professional Staff Congress, the union that represents faculty and staff, the proposed contract includes 10.41 percent in compounded salary increases, over a more than seven-year period, from Oct. 20, 2010, through Nov. 30, 2017. CUNY’s faculty and staff will also receive retroactive pay and a signing bonus.

“I am extremely pleased that we have reached a tentative agreement with the Professional Staff Congress, CUNY’s largest union representing approximately 25,000 faculty and instructional staff,” said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken in a statement. “This agreement provides not only a much-needed increase in pay for our many faculty and staff, but it also includes additional provisions important to CUNY’s competitiveness for talent at all levels.”

The agreement must now be ratified by PSC-CUNY members and CUNY’s Board of Trustees.

The AmNews spoke with PSC-CUNY President Barbara Bowen to get her thoughts on the deal and what it means to CUNY as an institution and to the faculty, staff and students.

“This contract helps with [attracting the best and brightest faculty] because it will raise our salaries by more than 10 percent,” said Bowen. “I think that will help to make it more competitive.”

Bowen also championed the part of the agreement in which the university promised to work on structuring more time for faculty to devote to one-on-one interaction with students.

“Every study shows that the most important factor in a student’s success is individual time with faculty,” said Bowen. “That’s what most students remember from college. That’s not what we have with CUNY because teaching loads have been off the charts.”

Bowen said that the restructuring is important, given the student body of CUNY. Some tend to have arrived as immigrants, haven’t been in the country for long and are immediately thrown into the American university environment.

The newly proposed contract also includes a new system for part-time faculty who are paid by the course to gain some stability. Appointments for part-time faculty who teach most frequently will be three-years long instead of a semester long. So students will be able to develop relationships and attachments with faculty during most of their years at CUNY.

To what did Bowen attribute the tentative deal?

“We won this contract for one reason only: because our members fought for it,” said Bowen. “We would not have one cent if it wasn’t for the 92 percent strike authorization vote. We’re gonna build on that. There are many things that need to be improved [at CUNY].”