Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Adjuncts Angry with CUNY Faculty Union While Leadership Defends Terrorists

The part-time faculty or adjuncts in American universities are mostly second class citizens. They are paid modestly (often around $3,500 for an entire 3-4 month semester class involving about 140 hours of work). They usually do not receive benefits. At the City University of New York (CUNY) they receive some benefits, but these are much poorer than full time faculty benefits. Many teach 5-6 classes per semester. It isn't a great arrangement. CUNY, like many universities, hires a large proportion of the faculty in an adjunct role. This keeps costs down but limits the richness of intellectual life on campus (the day when universities were associated with intellectual life is gone).

Sharad Karkhanis blogs that Barbara Bowen, president of the faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), had e-mailed faculty inviting them to write the reasons for their vote on a proposed contract onto a Web page, but did not publish the Web page until almost after the balloting was over.

Taking the side of the adjuncts, Karkhanis argues:

"While details are still forthcoming, (the) tentative settlement clearly perpetuates the two-tier labor system we are living under...The two-tier system weakens all of us, and the union as a whole."

A group of adjuncts has protested the reluctance of the union leadership to allow them to debate the new contract, which fails to live up to expectations that the union leadership created for adjuncts. One adjunct writes:

"At no point was the opportunity taken to include our one-page statement arguing the opposing view on the contract (which actually could have saved time as well as resources)."

Another writes:

"If you think adjuncts, Continuing Ed teachers and others left in the lurch yet again are "outraged," you're certainly right. Plenty feel kicked in the teeth, which might explain their silence on the DA list today."

The PSC leadership has devoted much of its time to political and public policies issues and has failed at the bargaining table. Politics and labor negotiation should intersect tangentially. The current leadership of the Professional Staff Congress is obsessed with the Iraqi War and with subsidizing terrorists.

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