Dear PSC Members –
On September 22-23, 2016, the Graduate Center chapter of the PSC along with six other PSC chapters (Bronx Community College, LaGuardia College, City College, Brooklyn College, and College of Staten Island), the First Fridays Committee and the Adjunct Project, organized a public meeting and workshop series entitled “Contingent Labor in a Time of Austerity.” We invited an adjunct organizer from the California Faculty Association, Jonathan Karpf, to speak on how the California Faculty Association won contractual language for pay parity and job security for lecturers (the CSU designation for all non-tenure track faculty) in the California State University system.
At the public meeting, Jonathan described how the CFA mobilized mass demonstrations to coincide with collective bargaining, which brought together lecturers, tenure-line faculty, and students to flex the muscles of organized labor in the CSU system. Lecturers built solidarity with tenure-line faculty through an “inside/outside strategy:” lecturers first organized themselves, then gained the respect of tenure-line faculty by serving in indispensable roles such as leading informational workshops on the contract and union pension plan. Jonathan highlighted the importance of working with students to ensure that administrators do not attempt to divide and conquer by pitting student tuitions against faculty pay. In fact, CFA employs two full-time staff organizers who oversee a robust student internship program. Many students who participated in this program have gone on to become labor organizers. Furthermore, the full-time staffers have given much-needed material support to ongoing adjunct organizing efforts. CFA also found it effective to focus on adjunct job security as the basis upon which other demands for parity and equity could be made. Jonathan’s talk led to a lively discussion, and we could feel a sense of forward momentum in the room.
The workshops were a natural outgrowth of the insights we gained from the CFA struggle, adapted for the CUNY and New York City-specific context. The activists who attended these workshops shared their ideas for building adjunct power in the CUNY system, which we documented in a list of priorities and strategies that to help center our work for the coming years. The workshops also facilitated cross-campus coordination by bringing in leaders from the different colleges into face-to-face contact to discuss current strategies and collectively craft plans for future work. The strategies document created at the workshops accompanies this report, along with Jonathan’s Powerpoint presentation, which highlights the timeline of the CFA struggle, the tactics they employed, and the contract that they won out of their struggle for adjunct parity and job security. We hope union members and our allies will find these resources useful for adjunct-oriented organizing on CUNY campuses and beyond.
Graduate Center PSC Adjunct Organizing Committee
Graduate Center PSC Solidarity Committee