Volume 74, Number 26 | October 27 - November 03 , 2004

After recognition by New School, adjuncts merge with N.Y.U. union

Villager photo by Jennifer Bodrow

Celebrating the new amalgamated N.Y.U.-New School adjuncts union, from left, Marie Dormuth, Roger Brown, Phil Wheeler, Jan Clausen and Julie Kushner

By Lincoln Anderson

Fast on the heels of the National Labor Relation Board’s certification of New School University’s new adjuncts union, the new union has combined with New York University’s two-year-old adjuncts union.

N.Y.U.’s adjunct union voted earlier this month, with little resistance, to form an amalgamated union with New School’s adjuncts.

Last Thursday, N.Y.U. and New School adjuncts, or so-called part-time faculty, joined for a celebration at an N.Y.U. lounge. They are now both part of Academics Come Together - United Auto Workers Local 7902.

The new amalgamated ACT-U.A.W. represents the largest adjuncts union in a private university in the country. The California state university system has a part-time “lecturers unit” of about 8,000 adjuncts.

The school’s adjuncts unions will each bargain their contracts separately. New School’s adjuncts have their first bargaining session with the administration on Thursday.

New School, whose faculty are mainly part-time, has 2,000 adjuncts. N.Y.U. has 2,500 adjuncts on its main campus, excluding its law, medical and dental schools. New School has 167 full-time faculty and N.Y.U. has 1,600 full-time faculty at its main campus.

Last Friday, Bob Kerrey, New School’s president, sent a letter to the new adjuncts union, recognizing them. Yet, New School still contends that the 250 part-time faculty of the university’s Mannes music school should not be included in the union, arguing that they are managers.

Calling New School’s position “ridiculous,” Julie Kushner, subregional director for U.A.W. Region 9A, said she expects the N.L.R.B. will rule in the union’s favor on the Mannes part-time faculty.

N.Y.U.’s adjuncts were ratified by the Labor Board two years ago, but after a long bargaining process with N.Y.U. only negotiated their first contract in May. As a result of unionization, the adjuncts’ salary rose 40 percent, from, on average, $2,700 to $4,000 per course taught. Most adjuncts teach one course per semester, as opposed to full-time and tenured faculty who teach four to five courses per year. Full-time faculty receive on average $20,000 per course taught, plus benefits.

The New School adjuncts’ average salary is currently $3,000 per course. Prior to unionization, only adjuncts who worked at New School for many years received subsidized health benefits.

Although some adjuncts work off and on, according to Kushner, many of N.Y.U.’s adjuncts have worked steadily at the university for more than 10 years.

Kushner said the amalgamated union makes sense.

“Many people work at both institutions,” she noted. “Many people don’t, but clearly there’s a great deal the adjuncts have in common at both universities.”

The amalgamated union will share ACT-U.A.W.’s offices on University Pl., as well as resources and leadership. A 10-member temporary executive board has been set up with five adjuncts each from N.Y.U. and New School.

Marie Dormuth, who has taught printmaking part time at New School for 27 years and is a member of the temporary ACT-U.A.W. executive board, said the union will make a huge difference. Bargaining priorities are job security, health benefits and a procedure of grievances for teachers.

“We won’t be treated like temporary workers anymore,” Dormuth said. “We want the dignity that we deserve, and it’s long overdue.”

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