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How will the adjunct office hours work?

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Colleagues,

This is the next in a series of short messages designed to clarify aspects of the proposed contract. Voting on the contract ends tomorrow night. Paying adjuncts for more of the hours they actually work is a progressive provision and a centerpiece of the new contract. Here is a short guide to how it will work if the contract is ratified.

Paid office hours for adjunct faculty would begin almost immediately. Starting next semester, every adjunct (and full-timer on overload) who teaches a course of three contact hours or more will be responsible for and paid at their full hourly rate for formal office hours, if the contract is ratified. The provision for paid office hours means that adjuncts are paid for substantially more of the hours they work; it recognizes the professionalism of adjunct faculty; and it guarantees and expands students’ access to their instructors outside of class.

The office hours may not be appropriated for other purposes. During negotiations, the union insisted that the language of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) concerning adjunct office hours be unequivocal. “[T]he hours are to be spent engaged in or available for student contact.” (The union added the phrase “or available for” because no adjunct should be penalized if there are moments during their office hours when no students appear.)

With the exception of the limited number of hours that are designated “professional hours” (described in the union’s guide to the new adjunct provisions), the adjunct office hours may not be used for any purpose other than meeting with or being available to meet with students. If the contract is ratified and the union learns of any attempts by colleges to repurpose or take over these hours, we will immediately challenge the college and, if necessary, file a grievance. CUNY management, the City and the State agreed to pay for these hours on the understanding that they are to be used to meet with students; the union is determined to protect that purpose.

The office hours are to be “formalized” as directed by the department chair. The union bargaining team also insisted that adjunct office hours be modeled as closely as possible on office hours held by full-time faculty in the department. The term “formalized” in the MOA expresses the expectation that department chairs will direct part-time faculty to notify students and the department administration of their office hour schedule in the same way that full-time faculty do. If, for example, office hours held by full-time faculty must be posted on the syllabus and listed with the department administrator, office hours held by adjuncts should be treated the same way.

For more detailed information on the new adjunct office hours and professional hours, members should consult “How the Increases in Adjunct Pay Would Work” and the FAQs on adjunct provisions on the PSC website. But some short answers to questions many members have asked can be included here:

  • Full-time faculty and professional staff, as well as retirees, teaching courses as adjuncts or on overload and paid by tax-levy funds are included in all the provisions for adjunct office hours.
  • Summer courses, winter session courses and all other courses of three contact hours or more paid by tax-levy funds will include the paid office hours.
  • Adjuncts teaching more than five contact hours in a semester should consult “How the Increases in Adjunct Pay Would Work” and the MOA for information on multiple office hours.
  • If a course is conducted wholly or in part through distance learning, a proportionate share of the adjunct office hours for that course may also be conducted through distance technology.
  • Adjuncts are responsible for holding office hours even if it means posting on your syllabus that your “office” is the cafeteria. Proper office space for adjuncts at CUNY is long overdue. If the contract is ratified, the PSC will immediately begin working with departments and colleges to address the need for adjunct office space.
  • Adjuncts who teach courses currently treated as “three credits/four hours,” such as certain Composition courses, should be paid for an additional office hour; i.e., a fifth hour, per week.
  • For more on the “professional hours,” a limited number of which may be carved out of the office hours, see the union’s guide.

The new adjunct office hours will mean an immediate pay increase of more than 30% for thousands of adjunct faculty and major new public investment in the education of CUNY students. By voting yes on ratification, you are voting to allow the office hour provision to begin.

If you are an eligible voter, remember to vote before 11:59 p.m. tomorrow. Don’t assume others will ratify the contract even if you don’t vote. Every vote counts.

In unity,
Barbara Bowen
President, PSC


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