NEW YORK, N.Y., October 20, 2008 -The labor movement's giant inflatable rat will join Pace University adjunct faculty and union members to fill Pace Plaza at noon Tuesday in support of a fair contract and respect on the job for the university adjuncts. Pace Plaza is across Park Row from City Hall.
"The rat is a symbol of our protest of the administration's failure to agree to a fair contract after four years of difficult negotiations," said John Pawlowski, president of the Union of Adjunct Faculty at Pace (UAFP). "Our adjuncts are paid a fraction of full-time faculty salaries, and far less than our counterparts at NYU, Cooper Union, Pratt, the New School and CUNY." Adjuncts teach the bulk of Pace's classes.
The university will face an accreditation evaluation in the coming weeks by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which judges the quality of higher education institutions every five years.
"Quality universities do not have such a hostile environment for the people who make their classrooms come alive," Pawlowski said.
If contract negotiations are not successfully settled, more picketing on campus - with support from other metropolitan area unions - is likely. Recently, 94 percent of the union membership voted in favor of striking, if necessary. UAFP leaders hope to avert a strike through mediation but say they may be forced to walk out in the near future.
"Students, parents, alumni and full-time faculty have all told the administration to settle these issues," said Barbara Lerner, UAFP corresponding secretary. "It may take showing Pace's administration that refusing to come to a fair agreement is simply unacceptable."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents some 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.