New School part-time faculty plan strike

Part-time professors at The New School plan to strike starting Wednesday if their union isn’t able to make a last-minute agreement with the university.


Part-time faculty at The New School will go on strike on Wednesday if they are unable to make an agreement with the university this week.

Abby Wilson, News Editor

Part-time faculty at The New School are preparing to strike if they are not able to agree on a new tentative contract with the university. After months of tense negotiations and the expiration of their current contract at midnight on Nov. 13, ACT-UAW Local 7902 — the union that represents New School part-time faculty as well as NYU adjunct faculty — is scheduling strike plans.

The union said it will go on strike beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16 if the university doesn’t meet its demands by Tuesday night.

“Being the point person for students in the department, in a program, in a practice — the vast majority of it falls on part-time faculty,” said Jerzy Gwiazdowski, a part-time assistant professor at the New School and a member of the union’s bargaining committee. “It’s a massive burden, and it’s one that we are thrilled to provide. But what we are asking from the university is that they acknowledge the unpaid labor in our contract, and that they compensate us fairly, and that’s where they are refusing to budge.”

Ninety-seven percent of the union voted to authorize a strike, among an 87% turnout. Gwiazdowski said that the union’s members are calling on the university to provide better health insurance coverage and better compensate its employees for work they do outside of the classroom.

“Across the country, exploited academic workers have been organizing en masse for fair pay and decent working conditions,” a Nov. 14 statement from the union reads. “The New School’s reputation rests on its progressive history and professed values — a reputation with which its treatment of workers fails to align.”

When asked for comment, a New School representative referred WSN to its website and blog, where it posts periodic updates about the union’s negotiations.

“The university continues to welcome the use of a mediator, as we all have a responsibility to do everything possible to get to a positive outcome,” the university wrote in a blog post following the contract’s expiration on Nov. 14. “The union, on the other hand, continues to demonstrate an unwillingness to mediate or take any affirmative good faith steps toward reaching agreement.”

The threat of a strike from the New School’s part-time faculty comes just two weeks after adjunct faculty at NYU reached a tentative contract with the university. The new contract, if ratified, will increase compensation, provide administrative pay and offer other employment benefits for adjuncts. 

Adjuncts at NYU authorized a strike in late October, with 95% of voting members in favor of making the option to strike available to membership. However, a marathon bargaining session endured until just hours after their previous contract with the university expired, and the union was able to reach an agreement with NYU. 

David Palmer, an NYU adjunct professor who also holds a unionized part-time teaching position at the New School, served on the NYU adjunct union bargaining committee. He told WSN that he has seen a stark difference in the ways that the two institutions have communicated with the union.

“Even though there were challenges with the NYU bargaining, there at least was an effort to bargain in good faith,” Palmer said. “I don’t see that at all with the New School side. I really don’t understand their motivations for why they took this approach — why they took such an adversarial approach — given what they stand for. It seems like they just flushed their brand down the toilet with these contract negotiations.”

While students and faculty across New York City bargain with their respective institutions and threaten to strike, nearly 50,000 academic workers are on strike against the University of California system for better wages and working conditions. The strike spans across all 10 schools and is reported to be the largest academic worker strike in the history of the United States.

Contact Abby Wilson at [email protected].