September 2017 Issue - Higher Education, Labor Issues
August 30, 2017

Many CUNY adjuncts begin semester with job security

Author: By Matt Smith
Source: NYSUT United

Clarification: This story notes that some CUNY adjuncts who recently received three-year appointments would also receive the same health benefits received by full-time faculty and other city employees. To clarify, health coverage for adjuncts extends only to the individual and not family members. Also, unlike full-time faculty retirees, adjuncts will not be reimbursed for Medicare coverage upon retirement.


More than 1,000 adjunct faculty members at the City University of New York begin the fall semester with three-year appointments, bringing job security to educators who previously were employed only on a semester-to-semester basis.

The new provision — which, for the first time, provides adjuncts guaranteed income and prevents them from being dismissed without just cause — is a result of a contract ratified last year by the 27,000-member Professional Staff Congress, which represents CUNY faculty and staff.

The battle to secure the multi-year adjunct appointments was one of the union's most difficult during its bitter six-year contract fight with CUNY's administration. While PSC

President Barbara Bowen characterized the effort as a "monumental struggle," she also said the win represents a "major change" that will finally begin to professionalize the treatment of adjuncts who, for far too long, have been exploited by CUNY's system of contingent employment.

To be considered by a department for a three-year appointment, adjuncts must have taught at least six credit hours per semester in the same department for 10 recent consecutive semesters.

Besides the guarantee of assignments, income and protection from termination without cause, adjuncts who receive the appointments also will be eligible for the same health benefits as full-time faculty.

The union said the provision would have a positive impact on the education of CUNY students since departments will be able to plan curriculum in advance and students will have the benefit of knowing their instructor will be working in the department for more than one semester.