Hunter Staff and Students Protest One Year Without a Union Contract

Members of the PSC CUNY union carry a banner while marching around the campus.

Hunter students joined staff on Feb. 29 to demonstrate outside the Hunter West Building over union contract negotiations that have dragged on for a year.

Members of the Professional Staff Congress, or PSC CUNY, attended a contract bargaining session, while others led informational pickets at various CUNY campuses. The union is negotiating for increased salaries, job security, health and safety protections, and benefits, among other things.

“Rather than investing in the future of its youth and residents, New York City is investing in more policing, funding genocide in Gaza and silencing student voices on campus,” said Asian American Studies and Sociology Professor Jackie Mariano. “We demand pay parity, job security, a sustainable future and basic human rights, not only for CUNY but for the people of New York City.”

Adjunct Professor Jackie Mariano speaking to Hunter students and fellow union members about how late payments have affected her.

Mariano said she couldn’t pay her rent in February because she’s been dealing with late payments that impacted her financially. She was compensated for only one of the three classes she’s teaching this semester because of an unexplained issue with payroll affecting adjunct professors who teach in multiple departments. She’ll receive retroactive pay but no compensation for the suffering it caused. 

“It’s anxiety-inducing to face the precarity of my job,” said Mariano. 

Adjunct professors teach about 22,000 courses per year at CUNY but on average only make $5,550 per course, according to data collected by PSC CUNY last spring.

Demonstrators at the rally holding signs calling for better conditions and promoting the collaboration of staff and students.

The union is also negotiating to improve job security for adjunct professors by establishing five-year appointments instead of semester-long ones, said Mariano.  

Many speakers at the demonstration condemned the Taylor Law, a labor relations statute from 1967 that explicitly prohibits public employees in New York from striking. 

Mariano spoke strongly in favor of striking despite the statute.

“There are consequences for breaking the law, but there are more dire consequences if we don’t,” she said to the demonstrators. “We must not languish in these poor conditions.”

Some students showed their support for a new contract by chanting with union members as they marched around the block and displayed picket signs.

One student said too many of her peers aren’t involved enough.

“Students and faculty sort of think of themselves in separate spheres,” said Kaitlan R., a student in the School of Education who asked to omit her full name. “Part of the work that we really have to do as student activists is showing the connections between the two and that if the professors’ conditions worsen, then so will ours, and vice versa.”

A member of the Internationalists Club speaking about how students should support PSC CUNY and oppose the Taylor Law.

Mariano said if students want to help the PSC, they should keep coming to rallies, educating their peers and staying up to date with bargaining sessions. 

“My students deserve to have instructors that are not constantly waiting or wondering if they’re going to be able to make ends meet,” she said.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.