Renee Mizrahi is an adjunct lecturer in English at Kingsborough Community College and the author of Secrets to Reading Success. Below is an excerpt adapted from her testimony at the November 21 hearing of the CUNY Board of Trustees. Full text and testimonies from many other PSC members are online.
My name is Renee Mizrahi and I’ve been an adjunct lecturer in the Department of English at Kingsborough Community College for the past nine years. My greatest passions are to teach English and to help my remediation students successfully overcome their literacy challenges so that they can continue their education.
On February 8, 2008, I was given the gift of life by my sister Susan. I received the miracle of a kidney transplant because I was fortunate enough to have adjunct medical coverage. The surgery went well and I’m now fine, but in order to stay alive I must continue to take immunosuppressant medication for the rest of my life. Health insurance is my only lifeline to it.
Before my transplant surgery, my hospital social worker’s words were “never go without medical insurance.” After working with a health care advocate, who was referred to me by the Deputy Mayor’s office, I learned that if adjunct health insurance was discontinued or greatly reduced, I and many other adjuncts would be forced into an unfair and life-threatening position. [It] would force me and other adjuncts into the open market to replace our current policies.... Because of the disproportionately high cost, many would go without it.
ESSENTIAL AND ETHICAL
Working as an adjunct at CUNY is a labor of love. We do not receive high salaries, and we are paid for far fewer hours than we actually work. Reducing or eliminating health insurance for adjuncts [would cut off] proper medical care and life-saving medication for 1,800 hardworking and dedicated people who make up a very important sector of the CUNY workforce.
Continuing to fund this life-saving necessity is the only civilized and ethical choice. I urge you to communicate to the state that it is essential that adjunct health care funds be part of the final budget. As you make the case in Albany, please consider the people like myself who have given their professional lives to CUNY because we believe in what CUNY stands for – people whose lives are now literally on the line.