The Academic Union Wave

It is never more clear than as the semester ends and we work to bring our classes to a close: our work makes the university work. This time of year, we feel all the more keenly our need for a union.

If you haven’t already, take a moment to add your name to our petition calling on NYU to respect our right to collective bargaining, institute meaningful protections around job security, and guarantee raises that keep pace with cost of living in New York City! 

It’s been an exciting semester for UAW academic workers in New York City and around the country. Here are some highlights: 

  • In August, full-time, non-tenure track Barnard faculty with BCF-UAW ratified their second collective bargaining agreement, locking in guaranteed minimum salary increases amounting to 18% over the life of the contract, and bringing Barnard’s base salary to $89,000 by 2026.
  • Our part-time NYU colleagues of ACT-UAW won a historic agreement in October that includes guaranteed pay for grading and prep work, and brings adjunct faculty compensation to parity with NYU contract faculty minimums by 2026.
  • Just last week, New School part-time faculty with UAW 7902 announced that their three-week strike allowed them to leverage the new standards set by NYU adjuncts and win a tentative agreement that includes substantial salary increases and strengthens benefits and job security. Just like any contract we eventually negotiate, it is solely the choice of the union’s members whether to accept the tentative agreement. 
  • Meanwhile, 48,000 UAW academic workers at the University of California are reviewing tentative agreements, and will vote this week on whether to continue their strike to secure badly-needed increases and job protections for the UC’s lowest-paid academics.

Higher ed is the fastest-growing sector in the UAW, and in a historic vote last month, members in our region elected Brandon Mancilla of Harvard’s HGSU-UAW to represent us in the union’s national leadership. Across the country, workers at academic institutions like ours are forming unions to reclaim power and ensure a guaranteed voice over their working conditions. Just in the past few months, our colleagues at Miami University of Ohio, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Santa Clara University, and Skidmore College won their unions. Indeed, this year’s six biggest elections for new unions in the country have all been at universities.

Do you want to ride this wave of academic unionization?

We’re excited to move forward with our own campaign. The coming semester is crucial for us, and we need your help to make the most of the momentum that our colleagues around the city and the country have built. Now is the time to get involved.  If you’ve already signed the petition, why not take the next step? Respond to this email to say you’re ready to get more involved in talking to your colleagues about why we need a union.


Adjunct Union Victory Shows When We Fight We Win

As you may have already seen, there will be no adjunct strike. At 3:30 am Tuesday morning, three and a half hours after their contract expired, our adjunct colleagues wrested a tentative agreement from the NYU administration. As with any contract we will eventually negotiate, the decision of whether to accept this offer is solely in the hands of the members of ACT-UAW, and we expect our part-time colleagues will be reading the contract, meeting to talk about it among themselves, and voting whether to ratify it soon.

All indications are that this is a very strong contract. Our part-time sisters and brothers have won important victories on health care, pay, job security, and recognition of their work outside the classroom. Among the highlights: the minimum base pay for a four-credit course will go from $6,258.50 to $10,400, which will increase to $13,000 by the end of the contract; adjuncts will be paid for the prep work they put into a class if it is canceled before it runs; and for the first time the university will contribute significantly to dependents’ health insurance. 

As with the contract Barnard full- and part-time non-tenure track professors won earlier this year, NYU adjuncts’ victory shows that when academic workers stand together and fight, we win big.

In October, NYU adjuncts voted overwhelmingly—95% of a turnout of 72% of the union—to authorize a strike. This vote came after months of internal organizing. Our adjunct colleagues built a strong union with active members from every school and department across the university. They would never have won a contract without this hard work. It was the strong, active membership and the strong, credible threat of a strike that won this tentative agreement.

We’re inspired, and hope you are too. Will you take this moment to commit to help build your union, Contract Faculty United-UAW? If we all work together, it won’t be long before we, too, are celebrating a union contract.

Click here to tell the administration that NYU contract faculty deserve the financial and job security of a collective bargaining agreement!

But don’t stop there. After you’ve signed, talk to two or three of your colleagues and make sure they sign. Talking to our colleagues is the most important thing we can do to build our union and win a victory like the adjuncts did.

Then, let’s celebrate. This Friday at 2:00, join us and the rest of the NYU community on Schwartz Plaza as we celebrate the adjuncts’ win and tell the administration we’re coming for our own.


Tell us what matters to you on Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day! In a week when we celebrate the labor movement’s contributions — the weekend, the 40-hour work week, health and safety regulations — we’re also excited to be growing and strengthening our own union. We are proud to join our labor siblings in a movement that has long stood at the forefront of defending and strengthening American democracy. Unions of academic workers are among the strongest organizations working to stop the erosion of higher education through casualization and other attacks on academic freedom. 

Contract faculty play an increasingly vital role at NYU: we are experts in our fields, we are accomplished classroom teachers, and we do essential administrative work across schools and programs. Despite the high value of our labor, we find ourselves entering another academic year without the protections of tenure or a collective bargaining agreement. As we continue to grow our majority support and organize to win our union, we need to hear from you. Please take a minute to share your recent experiences and perspective in a brief survey to help determine the most useful next steps:

Contract Faculty United – Working Conditions Survey 

The NYU administration would prefer not to bargain with us, for the same reason a majority of contract faculty support a union: we all know that collective bargaining helps equalize the power imbalance between faculty and administrators. To win recognition, we have to continue building support and solidarity. To that end, this Labor Day, we ask you to recommit to helping build our union: share this survey with colleagues, and invite them to join a larger conversation about organizing to protect the important work that happens in our classrooms, labs and offices.


Pledge Your Support for NYU Adjunct Faculty!

Our adjunct colleagues have been bargaining with the NYU administration since last April. Negotiations come on the heels of a pandemic which has disproportionately burdened part-time faculty, who were not compensated for remote course preparation and were excluded from the one-time bonus payment given to full-time faculty. Our part-time colleagues have gone to great lengths to support our shared students during the pandemic and, as we know, the cost of living is skyrocketing. Yet the NYU administration refuses to budge on key economic proposals (learn more about bargaining here).

Like NYU’s AAUP Executive Committee, we are troubled by the NYU administration’s increasingly predictable recalcitrance at the bargaining table. Faculty on all lines — full-time contract, part-time, and tenure-track — gave their all during the pandemic, and we should all be fairly compensated. 

Please add your name to the pledge and tell NYU to agree to a fair contract for adjunct faculty!

As one of our adjunct colleagues noted at a recent labor event organized by students,“Our feeling is that if you’re teaching four to six classes at NYU, you should pretty much be getting enough money to survive in New York City, which we all know is not easy.”

We know that good conditions and more respect for one group of campus workers makes things better for all of us. That’s why, alongside the AAUP and other campus organizations, we’re standing together with our adjunct colleagues as they demand a fair contract. Will you join us?


Contract Faculty Need A Real Voice at NYU

On Monday, NYU announced new salary floors for Clinical and Clinical Associate Professors in the Faculty of Arts and Science, just a few days after Barnard Contingent Faculty-UAW announced a tentative collective bargaining agreement. Under the new agreement, all full-time non-tenure track faculty at Barnard see an immediate 7% salary floor increase, with guaranteed annual increases to the new minimum adding up to a 27% raise over six years, and bringing Barnard’s base salary to $89,000 by 2026.

This isn’t the first time that NYU administrators have been moved to action by negotiations uptown: in April 2017, Barnard contract faculty secured a $60,000 minimum in their first collective bargaining agreement; a month later, our salary floor went up to $60,000. While it’s nice that some of us have benefitted from BCF-UAW’s contract gains, we don’t think that NYU salaries should hinge on bargaining at Barnard — and we know that the NYU administration would much rather keep pace with Barnard than bargain collectively with us.

Contract faculty at unionized institutions are setting new citywide standards, and NYU is paying attention. However, unlike our unionized Barnard colleagues, we are at-will employees, and the NYU administration unilaterally determines all aspects of our working conditions. With collective bargaining, we would bargain as equals to secure meaningful rights and protections, such as equitable compensation for all contract faculty, to ensure that our salaries reflect the rising cost of living in New York City and the tri-state area. 

We are in the midst of a huge wave of academic worker organizing, including a majority of us signing up in support of our union, CFU-UAW. To win recognition and bargain a strong contract, we will need to continue expanding and making more visible our support for CFU-UAW and a real voice at NYU. Click here to get more involved.


Rally for Adjunct Faculty Wage Justice – Union Square,…

We share a call to action from our adjunct colleagues:

Join NYU Adjunct’s Union ACT-UAW 7902 for a rally for wage justice. Adjuncts have been in bargaining for three months and our contract is about to expire. Meanwhile, inflation is at eight percent and our wages have not increased to meet the cost of living. Many adjuncts cannot even afford the university’s own health insurance plan. We are rallying outside our bargaining space to demand a living wage and better working conditions from the university. Wednesday, July 20, 6:00 pm in Union Square, Northeast Corner.

NYU can afford to pay all faculty competitive wages that keep up with inflation and the high cost of living in the tristate area. Join us this Wednesday, as we call on NYU to pay adjunct faculty what they’re owed.


Join Us! Rally for Adjunct Faculty

On Thursday, the union for adjuncts at NYU (ACT-UAW) will sit down with the University to begin negotiating their new contract. While our adjunct colleagues raise initial demands at the bargaining table, we’ll be raising our voices in support of their efforts to secure more economic justice at NYU. 

We ask you to join us at a Rally for NYU Adjunct Faculty as they begin negotiations. The rally will start at 6:00 pm on Thurs. 4/14. We’ll meet at the Washington Square Park arch and move through the Village campus to Union Square, just two blocks from the bargaining committee in negotiations.

Adjunct faculty have been disproportionately burdened during the pandemic. Their work converting courses to new modalities has been entirely uncompensated, because NYU contends that teaching remotely does not constitute “course conversion.” Having spent time adapting courses ourselves over the past few years — much of that time similarly uncompensated, as those of us on 9 month contracts were enjoined to work through spring and summer break — we know that this is wrong. Our adjunct colleagues are right. NYU owes them. 

NYU owes us too, and we deserve the right to negotiate for needed improvements. Every conversation and support card builds more power for our union. Turning out on behalf of our colleagues is another way to build power and strengthen the muscles we’ll need to win our campaign for recognition – the more of us who show up in support, the stronger message it sends to NYU that we are united for a more equitable University.


Talk to One Colleague Today!

Recent victories by academic workers at Howard University and MIT show that talking to colleagues and building broad support is how we can win our union, and have the power to negotiate meaningful protections, rights and improvements to our working conditions. A majority of contract faculty already support our union, but NYU isn’t going to make it easy. The more of us who sign up in support – and talk to our colleagues about expanding our collective voice at NYU – the more leverage we’ll have to win recognition for our union!

Please check out our latest video on building strong majority support for our union — it’s a great resource to send to colleagues who are looking to sign or re-sign. Take a moment to like and share to spread the word on social media:




When we stand together, we win. How about asking just one colleague to sign an authorization card supporting our union today? 


Crisis Teaching: Faculty Flexibility Has Limits

Omicron has irrevocably disrupted the start of spring semester. Many of our students will be delayed returning to campus. Many of our children will be home because of illness or school closure. Many of us will be sick, quarantining, or caring for loved ones. Many of us have urgent questions about classroom transmission.

Nonetheless, as our Provost noted last week, the NYU administration’s “plan is to restart in person, and so in person classes should begin in person.” To bridge the considerable gap between this prerogative and the reality that in-person classes cannot begin as scheduled for many members of our community, NYU has found a familiar solution: faculty flexibility.

We have been told that “Omicron-related disruptions will require that an uncommon degree of flexibility be built into your teaching,” and given less than two weeks notice to prepare multiple contingency plans across modalities. We do this knowing that NYU has not extended us the same degree of flexibility, nor compensated us fairly for this additional work.

Over four semesters of crisis teaching, the NYU administration has refused to include faculty in a transparent decision-making process. Instead, they announce unilateral changes and demand that we absorb the impact, presenting the contradictions and impracticalities of university policy as problems we must solve individually in our labs and classrooms. 

We can’t solve these problems as individuals, and nothing will change until we assert our collective power and demand recognition from the University. We need the active participation of faculty in all schools and departments in order to be able to establish our union and win a strong contract. Update your card if you haven’t already, talk to your colleagues about the union, and reply to this email to get involved in organizing.


A Union Means Secure & Expanded Benefits

Currently, NYU cuts our benefits without consulting us in advance, and in some cases, without informing us directly. Over the past five years, contract faculty have lost several valuable benefits like tuition remission and green card eligibility. During the pandemic, many fringe benefits were suspended as part of NYU’s pre-emptive austerity program. Over two-thirds of faculty across the country are now contingent, and face increased precarity. With a union, our benefits are protected in a legally binding contract that we bargain with the University:

  • We would elect a bargaining committee from our ranks to sit across the table and negotiate NYU, and we vote to approve proposals that best reflect our priorities.
  • Once a majority of contract faculty vote to ratify our contract, NYU cannot change the terms and conditions of our employment.

Benefits and salary are often opaque and inconsistent. Right now, we have some of the same core benefits as tenured faculty (healthcare, retirement, childcare), but many other significant benefits (research funds, sabbaticals, office space, housing subsidies) depend on the favor of individual deans and chairs. With a union, we can bargain for fair minimums for salary and benefits:

  • Bargaining as a group and in alliance with contract faculty senators and representatives gives us more power to push for changes we’ve been waiting for.
  • NYU is required to share salary and employment data, allowing us to better understand how our benefits are structured and determine our priorities.
  • As graduate and adjunct colleagues have already won, we can secure the right to use neutral arbitration to resolve grievances.
  • A union contract sets minimum expectations to ensure that everyone has decent benefits and knows how to access them. A union contract won’t eliminate differences between faculty in different ranks and schools; it won’t prevent individual faculty from negotiating offers above established minimums.

Building a strong union will take all of us; to get involved, please contact us.