A Union Means Job Security

Our union is part of a broader movement to reclaim job security for contract faculty. This week, we write to share more information about how the union helps safeguard our jobs and ensures equitable compensation and benefits.  

Currently, we are at-will employees on contingent appointments. NYU can unilaterally change the terms and conditions of our employment without consultation or explanation.

  • Contract faculty are subject to frequent, extensive reviews that leave us in perpetual insecurity. Appointments can be as short as one year, and terms can be changed radically.

With a union, we can negotiate for just-cause protections, guaranteed appointment lengths, a transparent review process, and the right to take grievances to neutral arbitration.

  • After a majority of faculty vote to ratify the contract, NYU cannot change the terms agreed to in negotiation.

As we all have experienced, we must reapply to keep our jobs, and are dependent on the favor of individual deans and chairs. We have little to no say in the way we are evaluated, reappointed, and compensated. 

  • When the pandemic began, NYU offered tenure-track faculty a one-year extension to “minimize impacts on our faculty members’ long-term success.” By contrast, our reviews went ahead as scheduled, despite a research which suggests that the pandemic will have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable and over-extended among us. 


With a union, we work together to determine our bargaining priorities, and vote to approve fair reappointment and promotion policies.

  • NYU is required to share relevant employment data with the elected contract faculty bargaining committee, allowing us to remedy existing inequities and salary compression.
  • We have the ability to call special impact bargaining sessions to address issues outside the scope of our current contract.

As things stand now, the administration can disregard the recommendation of a convened grievance committee. 

With a union, stewards elected from our ranks help members understand their rights, resolve issues before they become grievances, and navigate the grievance process when necessary.

  • We can negotiate for a more transparent process and the right to take grievances into neutral arbitration – a right our graduate and adjunct colleagues have already won through collective bargaining.

Collective bargaining gives us security. Improved and secure conditions enhance the quality of teaching and research, making NYU a better university.Building a strong union will take all of us; to get involved, please contact us.


Strength In Numbers

Our union is part of a broader movement to resist the increasing precarization of the university, restore security, and reclaim a stronger voice for faculty. This week, we write to share more information about the growing role of contract faculty in U.S. higher education, and the attendant growth of contract faculty unions. 

U.S. universities are increasingly dependent on contract faculty. The 2021 AAUP ARES reports “a major shift” over the past 10 years, due to “a proliferation of ranked full-time contingent appointments.” Today, 22.6% of all faculty at doctoral institutions are contract faculty, up from 17.5% in fall 2009.

At NYU, the proliferation of contract faculty appointments may well outpace the national average. NYU has grown substantially over the last two decades, and the corresponding expansion of the faculty has been predominantly in the full-time continuing contract faculty ranks. For instance, in FAS, between 2000-2018, the number of contract faculty grew by roughly 1000% (from 37 to 403); in the same period, the number of tenured or tenure-track faculty also grew, but by a mere 43% (from 513 to 733).

NYU contract faculty hold a range of titles and responsibilities. Like tenured faculty, we are expected to publish or otherwise contribute to our fields, advise students, serve on committees, participate in shared governance, and hold administrative positions according to department need. However, we generally teach more and earn less than our tenured colleagues, and we must undergo frequent, extensive reviews to keep our jobs.  

It’s easy to see why administrators favor contract faculty lines. We are very productive, relatively cheap, and aware of our own disposability. By shifting work onto contract faculty, universities can cut instructional costs while avoiding reputational harm, since many college rankings look at the proportion of part-time to full-time (not tenured) faculty. In 2003, an email uncovered in litigation confirmed one NYU dean’s understanding of contract faculty status: “Re the clinicals getting appointed — are we clear…that this is not forever? I would like to see these as three to five yrs. max. We need people we can abuse exploit and then turn loose.” 

At NYU and across the country, contract faculty have been coming together to push back against exploitation and insecurity. New unions have been emerging at private universities since 2014, when contract faculty won the right to unionize. 

  • Our colleagues at Tufts and Fordham negotiated stronger job protections and expanded benefits, while Boston University’s contract faculty secured an average salary increase of 15% in the first year of the contract, as well as automatic annual 2.5% cost-of-living increases. 
  • Barnard contingent faculty negotiated a 16% salary floor increase over three years. Since 2017, NYU has raised the lowest contract faculty salary minimums several times, lagging roughly a year behind the scheduled raises that Barnard contract faculty won in their first union contract.

NYU’s contract faculty union will be the largest such union at a private university organized to date. Our numbers reveal a fundamental truth: this university could not fulfill its educational mission without us. By forming a union, we are demanding that NYU acknowledge the strength in our numbers, and negotiate with us as equals. 

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


It’s Official: A Majority of NYU Contract Faculty Want…

Congratulations! A majority of full-time continuing contract faculty at NYU have signed cards, demonstrating clear support for the protections of a strong union contract won through collective bargaining. 

Our work doesn’t end here: we will continue to build support for our union, work towards recognition, and organize around our most pressing needs. We’re excited to take the next steps together, and join a nationwide academic labor movement. Contract faculty at Tufts, BU, Fordham, and Barnard have achieved real gains through collective bargaining, and we aim to build on their successes as we determine our own priorities as NYU faculty. With a union contract, we would have:

  • The ability to call NYU to the table over changes to our compensation, benefits, and working conditions—and greater leverage in negotiation.
  • Better job security and stronger protections against harassment and discrimination. 
  • More power to advocate for ourselves and our students, demand transparency, and hold leadership accountable.

For more information on collective bargaining and the next steps in the unionization process, visit the FAQ page on our website. It’s time for NYU to respect faculty voices and work with us to build a better and more equitable university. 

Please join us for an ongoing conversation about the issues we’re facing at our Drop-In this Fri. 9/11 from 3:00-4:30 pm on Zoom (register here). If you’re interested in getting more involved with the union effort, please reply to this email.    


A Statement of Solidarity, A Call for Action

In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, which itself was only the latest in a long line of outrages and which has already been succeeded by new senseless killings, the organizing committee of Contract Faculty United, the union for full-time continuing contract faculty at NYU, joins in affirming the simple refrain sounding across the nation and around the world: Black Lives Matter.

But statements of support are not enough. As part of the NYU community we echo the Incarceration to Education Coalition (NYU) and GSOC-UAW Local 2110 in calling for solidarity and action. NYU should immediately begin a concerted effort to transparently reimagine the current system of campus public safety and policing, to ensure the safety of all in an environment which allows all members of our community to flourish. We applaud the efforts of the many organizations already working towards a campus and city free of structural violence, including NYU Black Student Union, NYU Incarceration to Education Coalition, as well as No New Jails, #SwipeItForward, Survived and Punished, Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement, and FreeThemAll.

To do this work means recognizing that the current situation is an inevitable consequence of the structural anti-Blackness of institutions across the United States, including New York University. NYU must take meaningful steps to better honor its role in the larger NYC community and address its own institutional racism. We have been heartened to see emerging school initiatives to implement anti-racist pedagogy and transform workplace cultures, and we support the many faculty committees that will confront these issues in the months ahead. But we must do more, as an institution and as individuals, to ensure that the labor of building a more just university is fairly accommodated and compensated, and that it does not fall disproportionately on BIPOC faculty, many of whom are already overburdened with unpaid diversity and inclusion work.

We unequivocally affirm racial justice as a core principle of our organizing because we recognize that all organizations, including unions, can reproduce the structural inequities they seek to remedy. As a majority-white committee organizing a majority-white faculty, we must acknowledge our complicity in systems of oppression, center the concerns of BIPOC faculty, and work to secure necessary change—at the bargaining table, and within our classrooms and departments. 

We know that the power to achieve real change lies in our unified voice and collective efforts. Along with the hundreds of NYU contract faculty who have already signed on to the unionizing effort, we are fighting to ensure equal protections and opportunities for all, with real recourse and accountability in cases of workplace discrimination and retaliation. As our list of union supporters grows, we will continue to hold ourselves accountable, and we will amplify our call for NYU to live up to its best vision of itself. In this crucial moment, we must all consider how the resources and reputation of this university can be used not simply to develop the minds of students, but to build an American society equitable in all ways, from law enforcement, to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity.

We ask all NYU contract faculty to join us in this urgent and necessary work, and we ask the NYU community to move forward with us in solidarity.

Organizing Committee, Contract Faculty United


NYU Contract Faculty Demand Responsible Reopening

NYU contract faculty join with instructors of all ranks and titles who have raised serious questions about NYU’s plan to resume in-person classes in Fall 2020. For many of us, returning to the classroom will mean facing unacceptable health risks and further complicate already-tenuous child and eldercare arrangements. We believe that many fall semester courses can and should be taught remotely, and we do not believe that  proposed “hybrid delivery” models offer meaningful educational benefits to our students.

We recognize that NYU is responding to an evolving situation, but as teaching faculty, we are alarmed by the principles laid out in recent communications from university leadership. We question the pedagogical wisdom of having some students participate remotely, and splitting the rest into rotating subsections small enough to gather safely in masked, distanced groups. Hybrid delivery would increase workloads and require us to break up lessons and course material to meet the needs of fragmented groups with inconsistent access to the work of the class. 

Remote instruction would allow class material to be delivered in a unified, consistent manner and would empower faculty to build classroom communities that meaningfully and equitably engage all of our students without risking anyone’s health. NYU contract faculty are ready to develop high-quality, high-engagement remote courses, but we need training, support, and dedicated time to prepare. 

The current focus on hybrid delivery prevents us from adequately allocating resources and preparing for Fall semester. Public health experts have warned that future outbreaks in New York City are all but inevitable, and it seems increasingly likely that many of our courses will be taught remotely. The university’s priorities in planning for next semester should reflect this reality. We call on NYU to address the structural barriers that kept many of our students from participating in remote instruction last spring, and to provide faculty with the tools they need to fulfill the university’s educational mission next semester. 

  1. Commit to remote instruction in Fall 2020 for all classes that can be delivered remotely, and give all faculty who wish to teach remotely the option of doing so.
    • If part of a required Fall 2020 course must be delivered in person, work with faculty and students to develop alternative schedules, spaces, and practices to ensure health and safety. 
  2. Give faculty and students the equipment, training and support we need to have high-quality, high-engagement remote instruction at NYU next semester.
    • Equipment. Before Fall semester begins, NYU must ensure that all students and faculty have reliable internet connections that allow them to fully participate in remote instruction. Faculty who teach courses that require additional tools to run remotely must be provided with necessary equipment or subsidies. Absent these measures, faculty will struggle to manage courses effectively, and students will continue to be denied access to education.
    • Training. Provide faculty with comprehensive training so that they are able to convert existing courses and develop new courses according to Ed Tech best practices, using the best available tools.  
    • Support. Faculty and students will need dedicated technical and logistical assistance throughout Fall semester. NYU must work with Ed Tech to expand the range of services and support, and must establish clearer channels of communication with faculty.
  3. Compensate faculty for workload increases associated with remote and hybrid instruction.  
    • Course conversion and preparation. Create structured funds to support the conversion of courses before the semester begins, and discretionary funds that instructors can draw from to help with unanticipated expenses that the spring semester has taught us will inevitably pop up while running a remote or hybrid course.
    • Additional duties and teaching time. Pay faculty for additional contact hours associated with hybrid delivery, and for expanded hours associated with remote preparation and managing classrooms across multiple time zones.
  4. Give international faculty and students the material, legal, and political support they need to remain active members of the NYU community
    • NYU must work to ensure that international students do not face additional barriers to participation, by expanding asynchronous course offerings and providing necessary technical and logistical support. Accommodate time zone differences to ensure that both students and faculty can participate fully without keeping irregular hours.
    • NYU must take immediate action to publicly oppose forthcoming executive orders that will directly impact international workers and students, and offer subsidies and legal aid to those who have already been affected by travel bans and closures (see GSOC’s statement here).
    • NYU must make every effort to support international contract faculty who find their lives disrupted, by offering teaching accommodations to faculty unable to return to the U.S., and legal and material aid to faculty whose J-1 and H-1B visa renewals have been compromised by the pandemic.
  5. Give contract faculty the option of extending appointments by one year, much as the university has given tenure-track faculty the option of extending review. NYU is asking us to continue to invest our time, labor, and money to develop courses that will keep our students active in the community and ensure that they remain invested in their NYU education. We should not have to worry about our job security as we undertake this extraordinary effort. 
  6. Meaningfully include faculty and students in planning for Fall semester. We are preparing for an unprecedented academic year, and mutual trust and clear communication will be crucial. Discussions about classrooms–physical or virtual–must include the people who teach and learn within them. Decisions that affect all of us must be made transparently, in collaboration with the larger community. We call on NYU to open its planning process to actively involve students, representatives of campus unions, advocacy groups, and rank-and-file instructors who do not hold leadership positions. 

NYU contract faculty deserve a voice in the decisions that shape our working lives. We are unionizing because we want the right to resolve the issues laid out above in a democratic bargaining process led by rank-and-file faculty. Therefore, we call on NYU to respect contract faculty voices by signing an enforceable agreement to remain neutral as we freely decide for ourselves to certify our union. 


Sign the Petition – Contract Faculty Deserve a Voice

In the past week over 200 of our colleagues have signed our petition calling on the university to honor scheduled salary increases and give contract faculty the option of extending current appointments and contract renewal dates by one year. Through their organizing efforts, lecturers at Harvard have already won an initial commitment to maintain their scheduled raises. 

If you have already signed, please share the petition with your colleagues; if not, please take a moment to sign here. 

Many of us have heard from chairs and deans that the Annual Merit Increase will not be offered this year, and we are all awaiting more information about NYU’s plans for fall semester. Universities across the country are grappling with questions about enrollment, and debating short and long-term strategies to carry out their educational missions in this new reality. The decisions made in the weeks and months ahead will affect every one of us. We believe that all members of the NYU community–faculty, staff, and students–must be meaningfully included in contingency planning.

Please respond to this email and let us know if your department or school has announced any changes to the summer and fall semesters. We also encourage you to contact us if you would like to discuss how we can organize around these issues together. 

Thank you to Adjuncts Come Together – UAW Local 7902, American Association of University Professors New York University Chapter, Student Labor Action Movement, Law Students for Economic Justice, and OPEIU Local 153 who have endorsed our petition. And to the prominent scholars that have promised to not accept invitations to institutions that do not “include non-tenure-track faculty and graduate workers in extensions of fixed-term contracts.”