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Adjunct Health Care: What You Can Do

Faculty and staff across CUNY are taking action to save adjunct health care.

“This issue has to be visible everywhere you turn,” said Ron Hayduk, professor of political science at BMCC. “We have to make it inescapable – so it’s clear to everyone that this is an urgent issue for the whole University community.”

That kind of visibility is a key starting point, union activists say, and every PSC member can take a few basic steps to make it happen: put up a poster, wear a button, give campaign stickers to your colleagues and ask if they have signed the petition. (Materials are available from your union chapter chair, or find a printable poster and petition form online here.)

PSC chapters are organizing a range of campus actions, with teach-ins, street theater and other projects in the works.

At Bronx Community College, the union chapter organized a rally for adjunct health care outside Meister Hall on November 3. “You have to take it to where the people are,” said Lenny Dick, an adjunct in math and computer science at BCC. “The union has had successful CUNY-wide demonstrations, like the recent protest outside the Board of Trustees – now we need to spread that message everywhere in the University.”

Speakers at the rally, both adjuncts and full-timers, emphasized that maintaining adjunct health care was a basic obligation for the University as an employer. “Adjuncts now teach more than half the courses at CUNY,” said Dick. “We are a core part of the faculty.”

At some colleges, governance bodies are taking a stand. A resolution adopted by Baruch’s Faculty Senate declared that a loss of adjunct health insurance would “put these faculty at risk and embod[y] a disrespect for [their] contributions...and neglect of their basic needs that the entire faculty of the College does not countenance.” The resolution said it is urgent to secure either permanent funding for adjunct health coverage or an equivalent benefit from another source.

A resolution to be considered by BMCC’s Academic Senate at its November meeting urges CUNY to get adjuncts covered under City or State health plans. It notes that lack of insurance coverage leads many to delay treatment, with results that can damage their health or the health of others.

A key event comes on November 21, when the Board of Trustees holds a public hearing on CUNY’s budget request for next year. The union is mobilizing members to attend and to testify on the urgency of maintaining adjunct health coverage. “We want the CUNY trustees to understand how important adjunct health insurance is to our members who receive it, how deeply all our members feel about this issue, and why funding it is the right thing to do,” said PSC First Vice President Steve London.

Members who would like to testify can contact Fran Clark, the PSC’s communications coordinator, at fclark@pscmail.org, for more information. The Board of Trustees will hold its November 21 budget request hearing at 5:00 pm in Room 14-220 of Baruch’s Vertical Campus (enter on 25th Street near Lexington Ave.). A large crowd is expected, including CUNY students testifying against proposed tuition hikes.

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