I am an Adjunct Associate Professor at [college omitted] and [college omitted]. I’ve been an adjunct in CUNY since 1996 (with leave for almost one academic year because my newborn son needed open heart surgery). I am also a single, divorced Mom. I am 100% dependent on my health benefits through work. If I lost those health benefits, I would NEVER be able to pay for health insurance on my own. Now the minimum number of hours required to be eligible for insurance has increased–from 10 hours/week to 15 hours/week. I do believe I am one of the fortunate adjuncts where my reputation is impeccable and therefore, my contract has been renewed year after year after year. But in times of economic uncertainty, I have absolutely been on pins and needles waiting to find out if I would be receiving hours for the following academic year, and praying that it was enough to keep my insurance.
This whole insurance issue for adjuncts has been extraordinarily stressful. We are a part-time work force–for a multitude of reasons (mine being that I’m also a MOM). That does in no way whatsoever mean that we are any less professional or any less committed to quality education for CUNY students. And therefore, our part-time status as well as our less than full time weekly commitment to the University, should in NO WAY translate to partial job security.
In addition to health insurance and other employment issues, there seems to be a lack of communication to and support for adjuncts. When the minimum number of hours required for adjunct health insurance increased, many of us HAD NO IDEA! When I called PSC-CUNY they told me it was the Welfare Fund’s responsibility to inform adjuncts, and the Welfare Fund said it was PSC CUNY’s.
Another issue directly impacting adjuncts is payroll rate increases. I found out in the Spring 2013 semester that I had been due for a rate increase since the Fall of 2011. Where payroll rates for full time faculty and employees are automatic and taken care of through their Payroll office, it seems as if adjunct faculty fall through the cracks. Payroll here at John Jay said it is too difficult for them to stay on top of all the adjuncts they have in order to be responsible for rate increases.
It took me MONTHS to get my increase (and I was able to get one semester’s retroactive pay) and I lost approximately $3000 in back pay. Yes, it is ultimately MY RESPONSIBILITY. But isn’t it true that full time faculty’s rate increases are automatic?