Adjuncts authorize strike

Negotiations over a new contract for adjuncts, which have been ongoing since this spring, have not resulted in an agreement.

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Samson Tu

File photo: The adjunct union at a rally in April 2022. (Samson Tu for WSN)

Kayla Hardersen, Senior Staff Writer

Adjunct faculty at NYU overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike after negotiations with the university for their new contract failed to progress. While a decision to strike has not yet been made, the union now has the ability to call one as soon as its current contract with the university expires on Oct. 31. In the meantime, negotiations between the union, which is represented by its bargaining committee, and NYU’s administration, will continue.

“The bargaining committee wants to see movement from NYU that demonstrates recognition of the huge role and incredible value adjuncts contribute to the university,” union president Zoe Carey told WSN. “The committee will decide the next steps democratically.”

During bargaining sessions, both sides submit proposals and counterproposals to amend the current contract, which was signed in 2016. The contract was originally set to expire in August of this year, but has since been extended twice to allow more time for negotiations. It is now set to expire on Oct. 31. 

The results of the strike authorization vote, which began on Sept. 26, were announced on Monday. Seventy-two percent of the union’s membership participated in the vote, with 1,075 members in favor and 62 against — a 95% approval rate.

The adjunct union and NYU have already come to an agreement on several sections of the contract, including those that address the right to non-discrimination and academic freedom. Other issues, such as compensation, job security and health insurance, have not yet been settled.

Adjuncts are compensated per “contact hour,” a term which refers to time spent actively teaching, but does not include time spent on administrative duties outside of the classroom. In the current contract, the rate for adjuncts teaching lecture and laboratory-style courses was set at $149.25 per contact hour. The union’s most recent proposal asks for a minimum rate of $210 per contact hour, as well as compensation for one weekly administrative hour per course — down from $300 when bargaining began earlier this year. NYU is currently proposing $179.10 per contact hour.

[Read more: An explanation of the contract dispute between NYU and its adjunct faculty union]

The union has also been asking for fewer eligibility requirements for adjunct faculty to receive health insurance benefits, and more comprehensive coverage for the spouses and children.

“Even when I taught four courses, I didn’t make enough money at NYU to pay for health insurance for my family,” adjunct professor David Vinjamuri, who teaches marketing, told the university during a bargaining session.

Adjunct faculty represent about 54% of the teaching staff at NYU. In their first contract after they unionized in 2002, they won a 38% increase in minimum stipends, increased childcare subsidies and established a fair grievance procedure.

NYU’s adjunct workers have never gone on strike. If an agreement is not reached by the expiration of their contract on Oct. 31, the union and university could agree to extend their contract once again, adjuncts could continue to work without a new contract under the terms of the expired one, or participating faculty could go on strike.

The adjunct union is one of several at the university, including GSOC-UAW Local 2110, which represents graduate employees, and UCATS Local 3882, which represents clerical, administrative and technical staff. The graduate student union went on strike for three weeks last April, and ultimately won a new contract.

“NYU is committed to bargaining in good faith and reaching agreement on a contract that honors the contributions of adjunct faculty to the NYU teaching and learning environment,” university spokesperson John Beckman told WSN.

Beckman did not respond to questions about how the university would respond to a potential adjunct strike.

Contact Kayla Hardersen at [email protected]