Part-time faculty at New York’s New School and at the Parsons School of Design, which it encompasses, on November 16 ceased teaching and took to the streets to protest low wages, job precarity, and insufficient health care after their contract expired November 13. The striking professors have not received raises in four years, according to ACT-UAW Local 7902, under whose auspices they are unionized. In the course of three and a half months of negotiations, the New School offered them a 3.5 percent raise, with 2 percent annual raises for a measure of time thereafter. Citing inflation, which flattens their real income to 18 percent below what it was in 2018, the faculty are demanding a 10 percent immediate raise, with 5 percent annual raises ahead.
Also at issue is the amount the university pays per course. The New School has offered $4,367 for a semester-long lecture course comprising thirty-three contact hours; faculty would like to see $8,860 for such a course, which involves many hours spent planning and grading. Among the striking workers’ other demands are those for broader healthcare eligibility, lower-cost insurance premiums, and elevated job security. Roughly 90 percent of faculty—about 1,700 professors—at the New School are contingent. The statistic reflects universities’ nationwide trend away from tenured faculty but clashes with the progressive ethos of the university, which was founded as an alternative to costly Ivy League schools. As well, the New School has seen administrative costs rise significantly during the same period adjunct wages remained stagnant.
The strike was authorized in a vote taking place the evening of November 15, with 97 percent in favor. Some two hundred faculty and supportive students massed near the New School’s Fifth Avenue entrance the following morning. Both parties returned to the bargaining table today and are expected to do so tomorrow.