The strike begun last week by adjunct faculty at New York’s New School and at the Parsons School of Design, which it encompasses, has entered its sixth day, with no contract in sight. ACT-UAW Local 7902, the union under whose aegis the faculty are organized, announced in a statement that the strike would continue until workers receive a contract that gives them “meaningful wage increases, no cuts to healthcare, and third-party protection from harassment and discrimination.”
At issue beyond these demands is the vast discrepancy between pay for administrative staff and that for adjunct professors, who, despite making up about 80 percent of the university’s faculty, account for just 8.1 percent of the school’s budget. In the course of negotiations leading up to the November 16 expiry of the union’s contract, New School offered adjuncts a 3.5 percent raise, with 2 percent annual raises for a measure of time thereafter. Citing inflation, which flattens their real income to 18 percent below what it was in 2018, the faculty are demanding a 10 percent immediate raise, with 5 percent annual raises ahead.
For context, Barnard College pays adjuncts $11,500 per course, while New York University offers $10,400, according to Inside Higher Ed. The New School, which lacks the endowment of either of those two schools, has offered $4,367 per course; adjuncts are asking for $8,860. “Nobody would do this for what the New School is offering in terms of pay,” New School union president and PhD candidate Zoe Carey told that publication. Carey characterized teaching at the university as “a labor of love.”
University administration issued a statement affirming that “part-time faculty play a vitally important role in the New School community” and offering the assurance that they “remain committed to a renewal agreement that provides competitive compensation, exceptional benefits, and protected time off.”