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New Union Contract Important for Quality of Education at CUNY, Says PSC

At the New York City Council’s March 6 preliminary budget hearing, collective bargaining costs were a central theme in the testimony by PSC First Vice President Steve London. Below is an excerpt from London’s remarks.

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An urgent and essential step in restoring support for CUNY is funding a new collective bargaining agreement. CUNY faculty and professional staff have not had a contractual raise since 2009. Our salaries, already low in comparison to comparable institutions, have now become completely noncompetitive. At the end of our last contract, the average full professor at Rutgers earned $141,000 a year; the average full professor at a four-year CUNY college earned $114,000. The same professor would earn $170,000 at Columbia and $176,000 at NYU—both of which frequently vie with CUNY for the same candidates. In a profession in which universities compete nationally for faculty, CUNY is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain the faculty we need.

Meanwhile, decades of underinvestment by the State and City have led to a massive reliance on adjuncts, whose underpaid labor allows CUNY to stay afloat as enrollment rises. An adjunct who carries a full load of courses earns less than $30,000 a year and doesn’t know from one semester to the next whether she will have a job. Theirs are not the smiling faces you see in CUNY’s subway ads, but they are doing the bulk of the teaching, especially of the highest-needs students. That is no way to run a university….

It is time for this contract to be settled; we ask for your support to settle this contract and allow CUNY to recruit and retain the academic workforce it needs.