Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay College, and CUNY Board of Trustees: Support a Fair Contract with the PSC with a Fair Wage for Adjunct Faculty

Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay College; CUNY Board of Trustees

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Our work at John Jay is underpaid and too often performed in conditions that undermine student success. The adjunct professors who teach the majority of courses at John Jay earn a near-poverty wage despite their PhDs or other advanced degrees.  Salaries for our full-time faculty and staff lag thousands of dollars behind those at comparable institutions such as Rutgers and U. of Connecticut.  

This petition calls on President Mason and the CUNY Trustees to publicly support fair adjunct faculty pay of $7000 per course and increased salaries for all CUNY faculty and staff. Just as important, the petition urges Mason and the Trustees to support a CUNY budget request that includes public funds to support our demands. The current collective bargaining agreement is not funded by the State. Colleges like John Jay have been forced to cannibalize academic budgets to help cover the costs.

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To: Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay College; CUNY Board of Trustees
From: [Your Name]

We, the undersigned students, staff and faculty of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, call on you to publicly support a major increase in adjunct pay as part of a fair contract between the University and the Professional Staff Congress. We stand united in support of the PSC’s demands for all faculty and professional staff in a fully-funded contract.

The breakthrough PSC demand on adjunct faculty pay, coupled with advances for all, would enhance the education CUNY offers its half-million students. At John Jay College we educate for justice, but justice is betrayed, and the college cannot thrive, when the majority of the faculty is paid a near-poverty wage. We have full-time salaries that do not compete regionally or nationally, so the new CUNY contract must provide fair adjunct faculty pay and increased salaries for all.

Adequately paying our faculty and fully funding the new contract means including them in the CUNY Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2020. New York State and City have the money to fully fund a new PSC contract. It is time for state lawmakers to reverse the decades-long decline in the real-dollar value of salaries throughout CUNY and move toward real parity for adjunct faculty. The funding must come from new public investment, not tuition increases nor limits on fair pay raises across the board. Similarly, the CUNY Board of Trustees must stop the outrageous practice of expecting presidents to routinely cannibalize academic budgets to pay for the deals that the Board itself negotiates.

A fair rate for adjunct faculty is a minimum of $7,000 per three-credit course. According to the Economic Policy Institute, this amount would enable adjunct faculty who teach a full load to attain a modest standard of living in New York City. Yet a CUNY adjunct lecturer now starts with a mere $3,222 per course—as low as $20,000 per year for someone carrying the equivalent of a full-time teaching load. That is not a livable wage in New York City, and it is a fraction of the adjunct faculty compensation at local colleges such as Fordham and at neighboring public university systems, such as Rutgers and the University of Connecticut.

As more and more universities in the city have recognized that high-quality education requires fairly paid faculty and staff, more and more CUNY adjunct faculty leave for better pay. President Mason, you and other CUNY presidents need the state to provide the necessary funds for a great university. We call on you to use your singular voice as our college president to stand up for our students and faculty. We urge you to press the Board of Trustees to include full funding for fair wages for CUNY’s adjunct faculty and a fair PSC-CUNY contract in the University’s budget request.