For years, CUNY educators have been pushing for adjunct pay to be doubled to $7,000 per course, but new data suggests that a majority of tenured and tenure-track professors don’t think the $7K movement is “very important.”
That’s just one of many findings from a survey of over 8,000 members of CUNY’s faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress (PSC-CUNY). Conducted in spring 2017, shortly after the ratification of CUNY’s most recent contract, the survey was released to the public last month. Clocking in at 47 pages, it contains data on everything from satisfaction with individual campus administrations to how much CUNY faculty spends on housing.
“My hot take on what this survey means is that it’s a lot of really rich information that the union can use in the bargaining process,”said James Davis, Brooklyn College’s PSC chapter chair. “Rather than speculate about the last contract, it’s a much more systematic way of measuring people’s actual responses and their actual aspirations for the next contract.”
The most surprising – or unsurprising – finding of the report was that full-time professors and adjuncts are sharply divided over the issue of adjunct pay. When asked whether it was “very important” for PSC-CUNY to address “an increase in per-course pay for adjuncts to $7,000,” an overwhelming 88% of adjuncts said yes. Only 43% of full-timers said yes.
“I was troubled to see those initial percentages myself,” Davis said. “As a full-time faculty member it’s very clear, the urgency for major salary equity increase for adjuncts. It’s discouraging to see that gap.”
Although Davis admitted,that although results are troubling, a lot of progress has been made since spring 2017. “A lot of work has been done since the survey was conducted to educate full-timers in professional staff and teaching faculty of the need for adjunct wage increases,” he said.
Davis also noted that despite the gap, 43% isn’t nothing.
“It’s encouraging that nearly 50% of full-time faculty who have no self-interest are still vocal in their support,” he said.
A similar gap appears when asked how salary increases should be distributed. According to the data, 61% of adjuncts surveyed favored “equity raises” which would result in higher gains for underpaid part-time employees and lower gains for full-time employees. Only 9% of adjuncts were opposed. In sharp contrast, only 25% of full-timers approved of these equity raises, while 51% disapproved.
“Some people seem to have an objection to anything except exactly the same percentage for anyone,” Davis noted. “But it doesn’t take a math genius to see that’s a very regressive way of applying wage increases, because the largest dollar amount will go to the people who make the most money with a flat, across-the-board increase.”
Still, he argued that a “no” on the equity raise question didn’t necessarily mean a lack of adjunct support.
“I don’t really know when people read that, whether they have some objection to the specific dollar amount or to the very idea of a percentage increase for different job titles,” Davis said.