CUNY faculty, staff and students rallied outside Baruch College’s Newman Vertical Campus on Dec. 10 to provide the proper funding needed to pay competitive salaries to faculty and staff and raise the near-poverty wage currently paid to 12,000 adjunct faculty.
The demonstration was organized by the professors’ union, the Professional Staff Congress, to represent 30,000 CUNY faculty and staff that have been without a contract for more than a year. Their contract expired last November in which the contract between the University and its workers was not fully funded by the State causing major budget cuts to senior colleges, increased reliance on low-wage adjuncts, and tuition hikes for students.
In an open assembly, PSC expressed themselves peacefully while the CUNY Board of Trustees met on the 14th floor of the NVC to approve tuition hikes of $200 per year for the next four years.
Protestors demanded that CUNY raise compensation for adjuncts to $7,000 per course, as now they are only receiving $3,500. Compared to other universities, according to psc-cuny.org, “a Columbia University professor, on average, earns twice what a CUNY senior college professor earns.” In addition to increased public funding, the union also argues for adjunct health insurance and affordable tuition.
As the NYPD stood guard outside the NVC, protestors made their way to the 24th Street entrance and blocked the doorway, making it difficult to enter and exit from the building. Police had warned the protesters to move, allowing them three chances, and when they refused to cooperate, they were arrested on the charges of resisting police officers.
PSC President Barbara Bowen, an English professor at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center, was also arrested along with her colleagues — 17 protestors were arrested in total.
Sabrina Rich and Jamiee Ian Rodrigues who attend Hunter College and is part of the Coalition for the Revitalization of Asian American Studies from Hunter were also protesting to keep CUNY out of Amazon.
“In our Asian American studies program we work really closely with adjunct professors and those professors were some of the best I’ve ever had, and they basically make no money, yet CUNY has the audacity to pay Jeff Bezos and his million-dollar company but can’t pay its own faculty and staff, it’s ridiculous.” said Rodrigues.
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