By Zainab Iqbal
“No Contract, no peace! Same struggle, same fight! Student, faculty, staff unite!”
Dozens of CUNY professors, staff members and students rallied on the steps of City Hall Thursday afternoon to demand a new contract and a living wage for adjuncts. Currently, adjunct professors receive less than $3,000 per course, resulting in about $26,000 a year. They are demanding at least $7,000 per course.
“What we need in this contract is to get the resources in CUNY, the people’s university, so that we can serve CUNY’s 275,000 students as they should be served,” Barbara Bowen, the president of the Professional Staff Congress-CUNY (PSC) union. “There is no reason in this rich, rich city and this rich, rich state that we cannot prioritize the education of the working people, of the people of color, of the immigrants.”
Dozens of people held red and white posters with phrases like “CUNY needs a raise,” “7KorStrike” and “United for a good contract.”
The executive director of DC37, New York City’s largest municipal public employee union, Henry Garrido, showed his support and said this fight was an important one, especially since he is a product of CUNY.
“Right here in New York, we talk the good talk about how we are different, how we’re the progressive city of New York,” he said. “We are demanding the mayor and the governor to step up . . . If we’re going to be the progressive city they say we are, then put your money where your mouth is.”
Student tuition has increased 40 percent since 2011. Haris Khan, the only student on the CUNY Board of Trustees, spoke on behalf of the students, saying, “We’re paying more, but we’re seeing less every day. We’re paying more, but there are less faculty full-timers. We’re paying more . . . but, adjuncts are not getting the pay they deserve.”
At the end of the press conference, everyone walked around in a circle chanting and demanding a better contract.
Brooklyn College Adjunct Professor Conor Tomás Reed said he was really proud that PSC is taking a stand on achieving $7,000 a course for adjuncts.”
“More and more students around CUNY are demanding $7,000 for adjuncts,” Reed said. “Students and workers at CUNY coming together can have the impact to transform this university.”
Brooklyn College Professor and PSC Chair James Davis said, “We are here to make a fuss at the mayor’s workplace because he needs to see the strength of this union.”
He also spoke in awe of students who are supporting professors.
“Students are why we do this. Fully funding the university means paying faculty better, means paying adjuncts better, means having more courses, and more advisors,” Davis said. “We believe in our students, which is why we’re out here.”