Without A Union Contract, NYU Contract Faculty Lag Behind Peers

Across the city, thousands of faculty have come together this academic year to leverage their collective power and secure their jobs. Non-tenure-track faculty have seen big victories at Barnard, the New School, Fordham, and here at NYU for adjuncts. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to sign our petition urging NYU to respect our right to collective bargaining!

NYU contract faculty are currently not protected by an enforceable union contract, and have no effective mechanism to advocate for ourselves and the value of our work. For years, many of us, including our faculty senators, have been urging action to address widespread salary compression and other inequities in our compensation. The NYU administration has largely disregarded these efforts 

The administration may not be moved by our senators’ arguments, but they are reliably moved to action when other faculty unions win raises that leave us lagging behind our neighbors:

  • In 2017, Barnard contract faculty won a minimum salary of $60K in their first collective bargaining agreement. A few weeks later, the NYU administration announced a $10K increase to our minimum, bringing us from $50K to $60K. 
  • In 2021, Barnard contract faculty were earning a guaranteed minimum salary of $72K and preparing to renegotiate their contract. Our floor went up again, to $70K.
  • In August 2022, BCF-UAW won guaranteed annual increases amounting to a 27% raise and an $89K minimum over the life of the contract. A month later, the NYU administration established new floors of $77K and $84K for associate and full clinical professors in FAS.
  • Last October, NYU adjuncts won substantially higher course minimums through collective bargaining. In December, contract faculty in many NYU schools learned that course overage rates, stagnant for nearly a decade, were increasing to keep pace with adjunct wages.

While it’s nice to catch some positive ripple effects when other faculty unions win big, we never enjoy the full benefits or protections of other people’s collective bargaining agreements:

  • Because ACT-UAW won a 34% raise retroactive to the start of Fall 2022, NYU adjuncts earned $10,400 for a 4-credit course in CAS last semester — meanwhile, many NYU contract faculty teaching course overages earned as little as $6,500 for the same work.

The NYU administration is well aware that a majority of contract faculty want a union, and they would strongly prefer to continue dealing with us as individual employees. By granting these reactive, piecemeal raises, they’re hoping to discourage us from pursuing higher minimums and guaranteed annual increases through collective bargaining. 

Faculty at Barnard, Columbia, Fordham, the New School, and here at NYU have shown us that we can’t just hope for benevolent leadership and passively wait for things to improve. To win recognition for our union, we need to send an unambiguous message to the NYU administration. In the weeks ahead, contract faculty from across campus will come together to amplify our cause — but our union lives or dies in your department, in conversations with your colleagues about how we can take control of our working lives. 

It’s going to be an exciting semester. We’re asking you to start the crucial discussions that will allow us to win the same rights and protections that thousands of NYC faculty have already organized to win. Bring up the union in conversation this week, or forward this email to a colleague and encourage them to sign on to our petition. Each name makes our message more powerful; every conversation increases our collective strength.