The PSC has fought against adjunct layoffs at CUNY throughout the pandemic and, before that, to provide more job security. Continuing Education Teachers (CETs), or those working in certificate programs at colleges, are some of the part-time workers whose jobs have come under attack during the pandemic. Certificate programs often provide vital services to English language learners and mid-career workers looking to advance professionally. But as the push for austerity continues, the PSC members teaching such classes have been under the axe.
As PSC activists told a New York City Council panel, members at The English Language Center (TELC) at LaGuardia Community College have had to fight back against draconian cuts.
PSC LaGuardia Chapter Vice Chair Laura Tanenbaum told Clarion that members saw “their hours cut as the program suffered during the pandemic. The program has also seen a shift toward more hours being given to lower-paid CETs who do not receive benefits. LaGuardia’s chapter fought back, using petitions, media coverage, and outreach to local elected officials. While there is still work to be done to restore the balance of adjuncts and CETs and to improve the working conditions of CETs, this Fall, all affected adjuncts who sought a course were given one.”
This Fall, at Baruch College’s Continuing and Professional Studies (CAPS), CETs received a terse, perfunctory email from the administration, informing them that the program was being shuttered. While some Higher Education Officers in the program would be reassigned, this meant dozens of layoffs for CETs, sources said.
One CET, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Clarion that she was “shocked that we were informed in such an impersonal, dismissive way in a one paragraph email citing fiscal issues, but not containing a word of thanks for our long service. So, along with my feelings of sadness was a strong feeling of not being respected or valued.”
She added that Baruch should advise CETs on how to get other jobs within the college. “English and communications [departments] might be able to provide some help or some contacts. I am not talking about the CUNY job site here, but something more personal,” she said.
Vincent DiGirolamo, the PSC chapter chair at Baruch College, explained that while many of the Higher Education Officers in that division may be reassigned, many of the CETs, who are hired on a per-course basis and thus do not have the job security of regular full-time faculty, could be unemployed next year.
This includes “many 20-plus year vets, teaching everything from [English as a second language] to finance [who] all help to serve CUNY’s mission of helping New Yorkers achieve their aspirations,” he said in an email. He added that he hoped that some CETs would “be rehired if they are teaching in certificate programs that need to run to completion.”