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Home » Clarion » 2011 » September 2011 » Views on the Crisis: PSC Members Speak Out

Views on the Crisis: PSC Members Speak Out


Jenna Lucente, City TechA4-jennalucente11.jpg
Adjunct Lecturer, Art & Design

I have been an adjunct at City Tech for the past seven years. I am one of those people who truly loves teaching. I enjoy the intellectual stimulation in preparing courses and challenging my students, and I thrive on watching the students learn, grow and build confidence in themselves. I truly believe good education can build a better society, and I want to be a part of it. One of the main reasons I am able to make it as an adjunct – and when I say make it, I mean live with an income of under $35K a year – is that I know my health benefits are taken care of. For all of myself I give to my school, my students and my department, I feel this is only fair.

Stuart Chen-Hayes
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Associate Professor, Counselor Education/School Counseling

Our graduate program in Counselor Education/School Counseling would not exist without the outstanding contributions of part-time faculty. They work long hours, teach great courses, advise, and grade just like the rest of us, but only get paid a fraction of what full-timers make. That’s unfair to begin with. But as a full-timer who has access to health care coverage, I stand in complete solidarity with my part-time colleagues who deserve the same coverage.

Nicholas Freudenberg
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Distinguished Professor, Urban Public Health

CUNY’s public mission obliges us to set a higher standard than private businesses for how we treat our faculty and staff. Taking away health insurance coverage for adjunct faculty would be a step in the wrong direction.

Renee Mizrahi
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Adjunct Lecturer, English

I began teaching at CUNY about nine years ago. On February 8, 2008, I received a kidney transplant because I was fortunate enough to have adjunct medical coverage. In order to stay alive, I must continue to take immunosuppressant medication for the rest of my life. The cost of my medication is well beyond what I could afford on my adjunct salary. Reducing the amount of coverage would mean that I, and other adjuncts, won’t have access to the medication or quality medical care that we may need. Allowing this to happen would be the 21st century equivalent of an “order of execution” for many hardworking adjuncts.

Rosalind Petchesky
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Distinguished Professor, Political Science

The source of the problem is the two-tier labor system and the CUNY administration’s unwillingness to treat adjuncts as educators with equal rights. To deny adjuncts health care is just wrong. You walk down the hall and share space with people who are being heavily exploited. On a practical level, the more CUNY can exploit part-time workers, the more the University is emboldened to compromise the rights of full-time workers.

Arlene Geiger
, John JayA4-geiger-psc10.jpg
Adjunct Lecturer, Economics

I’ve been teaching economics at John Jay since 1992. I teach three courses each semester plus one in the summer. I’ve been committed to my students, the college and my discipline. To face being left without health insurance at the age of 63 is outrageous. John Jay is my only employment. Although I’m in reasonably good health, at my age with my adjunct income, I would be priced out of the health insurance market. I would have no access to preventative care or exams, and could only turn to the emergency room for emergency care at public expense. The union needs to make an all-out effort on this issue and it must be our first priority. I will be at the Board of Trustees meeting on September 26.

Linda Principe
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Adjunct Lecturer, English

I began my teaching career as a person with a debilitating disease that I still battle every day of my life. Because adjunct teaching is part-time, I can handle the hours and I have been able to build a successful career in spite of my disability. What would losing my benefits mean? I would probably have to give up my teaching career to go back on disability because I cannot afford to pay (wholly) for my benefits, nor can I afford to be without them. All in all, losing my benefits would be disastrous and have far reaching consequences for me. After 24 years of service, it is profoundly sad I should even have to be facing this prospect.

Brian Pickett
, Queensborough CC & Brooklyn CollegeA4-psc_brian.jpg
Adjunct Lecturer, Speech And Theater

It’s important to understand how the potential loss of adjunct health care coverage at CUNY fits into a broader climate of austerity measures being enacted around the country. Everywhere benefits and pensions are being cut, social services reduced and student tuition is rising. This is about much more than preserving health insurance for a small sector of public employees. It is about realigning our priorities and demanding adequate funding for the public infrastructure that we all rely on.

Paul Washington
, Medgar EversA4-Paul Washington-Hinderaker_20101216_0723Paul-Washington.jpg
Associate HEO, Male Development & Empowerment Center

This is another assault on labor. Adjuncts teach the majority of classes at CUNY and for them to not have health care coverage is wrong. We want CUNY and the City to get involved. It’s chump change in the overall scheme of things when you’re talking about $14 million to fund adjunct health care in an annual City budget of $66 billion and a State budget of $132.5 billion.

RELATED COVERAGE: Adjunct Health Care: A Campaign We Can Win, FAQs on Adjunct Health Insurance, The Adjunct Health Care Crisis: A Welfare Fund Trustee’s Perspective, Save Adjunct Health Care, What You Can Do

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