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Home » Benefits » Brochures on Part-Timer Rights » GA Rights and Benefits

Graduate Assistants

Rights and Benefits

DOWNLOAD: The GA Rights and Benefits Brochure
The text is also on this webpage.

Welcome to the PSC! As a CUNY employee in the title of Graduate Assistant (GA), your wages, benefits, and working conditions are negotiated and defended by your union, which also represents part- and full-time faculty and most professional staff at CUNY. We welcome you and urge you to participate actively in our collective struggles. To become a member of the union you must either sign a membership card or join online at psc-cuny.org/join-psc.

As a member, you will be entitled to vote in general and chapter elections and contract ratification after four months of membership. You will also be able to run for union office after a year of membership. The Graduate Center PSC Chapter has regular chapter meetings to discuss work- and student-related concerns. Many departments have a (student) union representative to answer and help address concerns and grievances. If you would like to be a department rep or become part of our chapter’s organizing or decision-making efforts, contact one of the chapter’s officers listed on the front of this brochure.

You are entitled & encouraged to participate in the GC union chapter.

Appointment & Reappointment

GC Fellows receive five-year commitments of annual appointments from the GC, as outlined in their original financial aid award letter. Other GAs may receive appointments for one year or less than one year. GA appointments cannot be made for more than seven total years of work. The employment, retention, evaluation, or assignment of Graduate Assistants is not subject to the grievance procedure, to the extent that it is based upon their status, progress, and evaluation as graduate students. However, the PSC has often fought successfully on all these matters. If your reappointment is threatened, contact the chapter.

Health Care

The PSC won the right for GAs to be eligible for New York State Student Employee Health Insurance Plan (NYSHIP) coverage, including family coverage. For more information contact HR at the Graduate Center. As long as you are matriculated in a doctoral program at the GC and employed in a GA, Teaching or Non-Teaching Adjunct position at a college and earn at least $4,122 per year ($2,061 per semester), you continue to be eligible for NYSHIP. If you convert to any other PSC-represented position (such as Adjunct) with no break in service following your GA appointment, you are immediately eligible for individual health coverage only (if an adjunct) or family health coverage (if in a full-time position), through the NYC Employee Benefits Program when you are no longer matriculated.

Sick Days, Workers’ Compensation, Jury Duty

GAs are entitled to paid sick leave of twenty (20) calendar days per year. Promptly contact the department chair where you are working about when you will be absent. Immediately notify a GC union officer or contact the PSC office if you are denied paid sick leave. All GAs are covered by Workers’ Compensation. If there is an accident, inform the Human Resources office to obtain a claim form, and contact a GC union officer or GC grievance counselor. You must be paid your regular salary for jury duty and remit to CUNY any compensation received for serving.

“Weingarten” Right to Union Representation

If, before or during any meeting with a management representative (such as a department chair, supervisor, or affirmative action officer), you believe the meeting may have disciplinary or negative consequences for your employment, you may request that a union representative join you. At that point, the management representative can delay or reschedule the meeting until a union rep is available, can deny the request and end the meeting, or give you the opportunity to choose to have the meeting without a union rep or end the meeting. You may consult with that union rep in private before or at any time during any meeting with management.

Complaints, Grievances & Concerns

If you have questions about your wages, work assignments, or benefits, contact a Graduate Center grievance counselor, the chapter, or a grievance counselor at the PSC office at (212) 354-1252. Based on the circumstances, and only with your approval, the PSC can initiate an informal complaint procedure to address unfair, arbitrary, or discriminatory treatment. When appropriate, the PSC may initiate a formal contractual grievance, a claim that there has been a violation, misinterpretation, or improper application of a term of the PSC-CUNY contract, the CUNY Bylaws, or GC governance policies related to terms and conditions of work. Grievances/complaints must be filed within 30 workdays from when you become aware of a problem. (30 workdays exclude Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays in NY State.)

Teaching & Non-Teaching Workloads

Actual teaching loads and conditions of work vary by campus and department. If you believe you have been assigned an excessive workload or student load, unreasonable schedule, or inappropriate work, contact the chapter. The PSC contract specifies maximum workloads for GA work, and overall caps on hours you can work at CUNY every academic year. (In recent years, additional work has been allowed during the summer, subject to an agreement between the PSC and CUNY.)

Teaching “Sections”

While most GAs in years 2 to 4 teach their own classes, others, whether by request or assignment, teach discussion sections of large lecture courses. By special agreement with the GC administration, GAs who are assigned this work should be teaching only two sections. Further, any additional required routine work (weekly meetings of all section leaders or attending lectures) must be additionally compensated for that time at the Non-Teaching Adjunct pay rate (approx. $47/hr in 2022). If you are asked to teach three sections or are not compensated for routine work as described, contact the chapter immediately.

  • GA(A)s may be assigned a maximum of 240 teaching hours* or 450 non-teaching hours** in a work year, with no additional work allowed.
  • GA(B)s may be assigned a maximum of 120 teaching hours* or 225 non-teaching hours**. If a GA(B) also works in an Adjunct position or another hourly position, the combined assignments may not exceed 270 teaching hours or 450 non-teaching hours.
  • GA(C)s may be assigned a maximum of 180 teaching hours*. If a GA(C) also works in an Adjunct position, the combined teaching hours may not exceed 270.**
  • GA(D)s may be assigned a maximum of 100 non-teaching hours**. If a GA(D) has an appointment as an Adjunct Lecturer, they may be appointed for a maximum of 180 contact hours. If a GA(D) also has a Non-Teaching Adjunct appointment, they may be appointed for a maximum of 225 non-teaching adjunct hours.
  • * A 3-credit course is considered 45 teaching hours.
    ** Non-teaching hours should be calculated and paid based on actual hours of work.

    If you’re working a combination of teaching and non-teaching hours, contact a GC grievance counselor to discuss your contractual rights.

    Teaching Observations

    Remote teaching observation procedures can be found online.

    GAs should have at least one teaching observation at some point during the first ten weeks of a semester. You must have at least 24 hours’ notice before an observation by a member of your department, as assigned by your department chair. The observer will submit a written observation report to the department chair within one week of the date of the observation. The chair must then schedule a post-observation conference (with you and the observer) within two weeks of receiving the written report. A memorandum is prepared of this conference. You should receive a written report of the observation and the post-observation conference for your signature before it is placed in your teaching file. Your signature indicates only that you have seen the report. You may place a response to your evaluation in your file.

    If the observation or the post-observation conference is not held within these timeframes, you must file a request with the chair within 10 workdays or lose your rights to grieve non-compliance with these requirements. You should contact the chapter promptly if you are unhappy with any aspect of this process. For full details, refer to Article 18.2 of the PSC-CUNY contract.

    Consult the full contract.

    Other Work

    If you are teaching additional courses, you are paid on the Adjunct pay schedules). If you are grading tests or papers, or performing other non-teaching academic work, you must be paid on the Non-Teaching Adjunct pay schedule (approximately $47/hr in 2022). If you are offered work at less than this rate, immediately contact the chapter.

    Stipends

    Most GAs receive an annual stipend as part of their fellowship. Although the stipend is not currently a contractual entitlement, the PSC has often fought successfully to protect them. If your stipend is threatened or reduced at any time, contact the chapter.

    Tuition Reimbursement

    Tuition reimbursement in years 1 to 5 is part of your admissions offer. Tuition reimbursement in years 6 to 7 is contractually guaranteed as long as you are working in some PSC-represented title.

    Pay Raises

    On January 1st of your 2nd through 7th year of work, to acknowledge your growing expertise, you advance to the next “step” in the salary schedule. Your salary will increase, by going a step “down” to the next row, in the salary chart.

    Confirm your pay, by referring to the salary schedules (salary charts) for Graduate Assistant positions.

    CONTACTS

    PSC: (212) 354-1252
    GC Chapter email: [email protected]
    GC Chapter Website
    GC Chapter Officers
    PSC-CUNY Contract

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    Updated: 4/2024


    Published: April 4, 2024

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