How the Increases in Adjunct Pay Would Work

If the proposed contract is approved and ratified, the salaries of teaching adjuncts will change dramatically. Adjuncts’ workload will be professionalized, students in courses taught by adjuncts will gain time with their instructors, and the minimum adjunct pay for a three-credit course will increase by 71%.  By the final year of the contract, minimum pay for a three-credit course will reach $5,500; minimum pay for a four-credit course will be $6,875. 

A major portion of the adjunct raises begins right away. Starting next semester, in Spring 2020, the minimum salary for a three-credit course will be $4,469, and it will be $5,586 for a four credit course.  Here’s how it works.

The Raises

Reaching agreement on raises many times higher than the 2% raises in the State and City’s collective bargaining “pattern” required a combination of approaches.  If the proposed contract is accepted, pay for adjunct faculty (and hourly pay for full-timers teaching on overload) will be raised in three different ways:

1. Across-the Board Increases: 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021

The hourly pay-rate of teaching adjuncts and of full-time faculty and staff teaching on overload will be raised by 2% in each of the first four years of the contract, just as all other salaries will be raised. The raises following the first one will be compounded.

2. Paid Office Hours: 2020, starting next semester

The first big jump in adjunct pay-rates will begin next semester. Starting in the Spring 2020 semester, every adjunct (and full-timer on overload) who teaches a course of at least three credit hours will be responsible for and paid at their full hourly rate for formal office hours. For an adjunct currently teaching a three-credit course who does not now receive any paid professional hours, this change will mean an increase of 33%, on top of the across-the-board increases of 2018 and 2019. For adjuncts who are currently being paid for professional hours, the increase will be less dramatic, but still significant. See Office Hours below. The addition of paid office hours does not affect the hourly rate but does increase the per-course amount.

3. The Introduction of a Single Rate for Each Adjunct Title: August 25, 2022

The second big jump in adjunct pay comes at the start of the Fall 2022 semester, when the current salary steps within teaching adjunct titles will be replaced by a single rate. Instead of receiving a final 2% raise in 2022, teaching adjuncts (except adjuncts in the special circumstances explained below) will see their pay raised to a new hourly rate, based on a single pay-rate for each title. The new rates for a three-credit course for both adjunct faculty and full-timers on overloads will be:

  • Adjunct Lecturer: $5,500 ($91.67 per hour)
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor: $6,000 ($100.00 per hour)
  • Adjunct Associate Professor:$6,500 ($108.33 per hour)
  • Adjunct Professor:$6,750 ($112.50 per hour)

By introducing the new single rates, the union was able to build a second major raise into adjunct faculty salaries, beyond the increase through paid office hours. The single rates also allowed us to structure the raises so that the largest increase applies to the lowest-paid adjuncts in the Adjunct Lecturer title, the title in which about 70 percent of adjuncts are concentrated.

Once the single rates are introduced, the salary steps within adjunct titles (with the exceptions noted below) will disappear. While salary steps do increase pay, they also delay being paid the top amount for the title. Adjuncts currently move to a higher salary step up only after three years of service.

Exceptions for Adjuncts in Special Circumstances

  • Adjuncts in certain professional schools within CUNY, like full-time faculty in these professional schools, are paid at higher rates than instructors in the rest of the University. These adjuncts—at the Law School, Medical School, Graduate School of Journalism and Executive Programs in the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch—will achieve higher raises if they receive the final 2% increase than if they were to be paid at the new single pay-rates for each title. These adjuncts will receive the final 2% and not be moved to the single rates.
  • Teaching adjuncts who, on the day when the single rates are applied, are already being paid at an hourly rate higher than the new hourly rate derived from the single rate will not be moved to the new single rates.  Adjuncts on the top three steps of the Adjunct Professor title and the top step of the Adjunct Lecturer, Adjunct Assistant Professor and Adjunct Associate Professor titles on August 25, 2022, will be in this group.  These individuals will be “red-circled,” in labor parlance, and will receive the final 2% raise on November 1, 2022, instead of being moved to the single rate for their title.  Their pay will continue to be calculated based on the number of hours worked, including office hours, multiplied by their “red-circled” hourly rate of pay. 
  • Note that full-time faculty and staff teaching an additional course as an overload assignment are not an exception to the new rates of pay and responsibility for office hours.  They will be paid exactly as adjuncts without an underlying full-time appointment will be, and they will be responsible for and paid for the additional office hours.

Office Hours

  • One of the breakthroughs of the proposed contract is that it recognizes the professionalism of CUNY adjuncts and their commitment to students.  For the first time, the contract will build in fully paid office hours for adjunct instructors (and full-timers on overloads) for every course of three credits or more.  The introduction of paid office hours will boost adjunct pay in Spring 2020 and will mean that every CUNY course of three or more credit hours will come with compensation for work adjuncts are doing meeting individually with students outside of class. 
  • Starting with the Spring 2020 semester, the current provision for adjunct professional hours will be replaced with a new provision for office hours.  Teaching adjuncts and full-timers on overload will be responsible for and paid for an office hour at their full hourly rate, as shown below.  Totals are calculated based on the total number of classroom contact hours you teach at a single college (not in a single department or CUNY-wide).  If you teach at two colleges, you will be entitled to be paid for office hours at both, following the provisions below:

Fewer than 3 classroom contact hours: 0 paid office hours*

3 or more but fewer than 6 classroom contact hours: 15 paid office hours/semester

6 or more but fewer than 9 classroom contact hours: 30 paid office hours/semester

9 or more classroom contact hours: 45 paid office hours/semester

*Adjuncts teaching fewer than three classroom contact hours at a single college will not be paid for or responsible for office hours at that college, but those teaching at least one credit hour will be paid for and responsible for professional development hours, as described below.

  • The union insisted that the new adjunct office hours in the proposed contract be as closely modeled as possible on office hours for the full-time faculty in their department.  The hours are to be spent “engaged in or available for student contact,” as the MOA states. The MOA also says that the office hours are to be “formalized” as directed by the department chair. That is, the hours are to be posted in your department, listed on your syllabus or otherwise published and observed as is normally done in your department and as the department chair directs.
  • If your course is conducted wholly or in part through distance learning, a proportionate share of your office hours may also be conducted through distance technology.
  • If you do not have an office, you are still required to hold the office hours, even if it means posting on your syllabus that your “office” is the cafeteria.  The introduction of paid office hours for all adjunct faculty should propel college administrations to provide access to reasonable office space for all adjuncts, something that is long overdue. If the proposed contract is ratified, the PSC will immediately begin working with departments and colleges to address the need for adjunct office space.

Professional Development Hours

  • The professional development hours are hours that college administrations may designate in order for adjuncts to complete trainings required by law, to participate in other professional development, and to meet with union representatives for orientation, while being paid at their full hourly rate. These hours are contained within the adjunct’s total number of office hours:
  • Up to three hours per semester may be designated professional development hours for adjuncts with 15 office hours.
  • Up to six hours may be so designated for adjuncts with more than 15 office hours. 
  • The designation of professional hours ensures that adjuncts will be paid at their full hourly rate for activities that, in the past, were paid at less than the full rate by some colleges.
  • Teaching adjuncts and those on overload whose total teaching load at a single college is one or more but fewer than three contact teaching hours will be paid for two professional hours per semester at the full hourly rate, to be used for required trainings, professional development, etc., as described above.
  • In New York State, employers are obliged to require employees to participate in legally mandated trainings on such subjects as “Workplace Violence Prevention” and “Sexual Harassment Prevention.” The professional development hours may be used for this purpose.
  • With agreement by the PSC, professional development hours may be used for meetings with union representatives under the new provisions in the Taylor Law added following the Supreme Court Janus decision.

Principles

The bargaining team was guided by several principles.

  • “Lift the floor.”  About 70 percent of all teaching adjuncts at CUNY are in the lowest-paid adjunct title, Adjunct Lecturer, and most do not move up to higher titles while teaching at CUNY.  The union’s campaign significantly expanded the amount of money available for this contract, but the amount was not unlimited.  Every dollar was a fight.  We negotiated an agreement that delivers the largest increase, 71%, to the minimum pay-rate and the largest increases to the Adjunct Lecturer title. Applying the same dollar amount or the same percentage to each step of each adjunct title would not have the same effect.  Lifting the floor for the lowest-paid instructors at CUNY also helps to lift the floor for everyone.
  • “The work is the work.”  Pay must be raised for every course taught by an adjunct, regardless of whether the adjunct depends on adjunct pay for their income or uses adjunct pay as a supplement to other earnings.  This is the same principle that guided the successful campaign across the state for a higher minimum wage.  The work itself has value and must be paid accordingly.
  • “No austerity.”  The bargaining team rejected management’s initial position that the only way to achieve greater increases for adjuncts was to accept that there is not enough money to go around and deny increases to everyone else.  The union defeated the argument that our only option was to divide the economic “pie” into smaller slices.  We insisted that the pie be expanded—and it was.  The proposed agreement includes commitments by New York State and New York City for tens of millions of additional dollars annually for CUNY.
  • “Equal pay for equal work.”  The union’s demand for a minimum of $7K for a three-credit course for an Adjunct Lecturer was based on the goal of parity with full-time Lecturers, even though we recognized that the jobs were not identical: full-time Lecturers currently have greater responsibilities than adjunct faculty. The proposed agreement brings the minimum three-credit adjunct pay to $5,500 and includes fully paid office hours as part of adjunct instructors’ workload.  By the last year of the contract, the minimum pay for an Adjunct Lecturer teaching the equivalent of a full-time Lecturer’s courseload of 24 hours would be $44,000.  At the same point, the minimum pay for a full-time Lecturer would be $50,513.  The proposed contract does not close the gap between full-time and part-time, but it narrows the gap substantially—and in doing so, it reduces CUNY’s economic incentive for relying on adjunct labor.
  • “The faculty’s working conditions are the students’ learning conditions.”  From the start of the PSC campaign for $7K for adjuncts, the union made it clear that our demand was about more than our own members.  It was also about students.  CUNY’s low pay for adjuncts was the sharpest evidence of the failure of New York State and New York City to invest adequately in the students we teach.  Students suffer when their adjunct instructors are paid so little that they have to split their attention between two and three other jobs; students are denied the support they need when their adjunct instructors cannot hold office hours.  The proposed contract does much to remedy both injustices.