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New York students join faculty, staff on picket line

Picketers walk around the block at Hunter College Thursday. (Chyonika Roy/YJI)

NEW YORK – Faculty and supporters picketed at City University of New York schools this week as contract negotiations continue between CUNY and Professional Staff Congress, the union representing 30,000 faculty and staff.

At a rally at Hunter College in Manhattan on Thursday, speakers favoring the union’s position said faculty and staff at CUNY’s 25 public colleges have been working without a contract for one year.

The last contract was from 2017 to 2023, they said.

The union is demanding better pay for professors, for CUNY to be tuition free for students and an end to Taylor’s law in New York state, which regulates negotiations between government and unions and prohibits workers from striking.

Picketers holding a banner at Hunter College on Thursday. (Chyonika Roy/YJI)
Students stand with supportive signs outside Hunter College’s West Building. (Chyonika Roy/YJI)

When asking why CUNY staff have been without a contract, union organizer Ava Farkus said,  “CUNY delayed negotiations for six months.”

The picketing comes at a time when there have been budget cuts to many city services, including CUNY resulting in “reductions of faculty and staff” according to a press release from NYC Comptroller Brad Lander.

In January, before the spring semester began, about 100 layoffs at Queens College and York College resulted in class cancellations, according to The City, a news website.

The goal of the picket is to show “we’re organized,” said Farkus.

Among those on the picket lines were CUNY students, including Tyler Etinne, a student at Hunter College. 

Hunter College students Johanna Van Maak and Tyler Etinne hold picket signs. (Chyonika Roy/YJI)

“I am a socialist and I am a student,” Etinne said, when asked why he joined the picket line. “Professors having pay and better conditions improves my time as a student.”

Farkus added that student participation is important.

 “Not only do we fight for our members but we fight for students and higher ed to be accessible and free with the New Deal for Cuny, like back in the ‘70s,” Farkus said.

The New Deal for Cuny is pending legislation in the New York State legislature that would, if enacted, increase the number of faculty and mental health counselors and offset tuition costs with federal, state and city funds.

Etinne said advocating for things to benefit students – in addition to the faculty and staff contract – is important.

Repealing Taylor’s law, the law preventing public employees from striking, would allow professors to have “more say in the contract,” he said.

Chyonika Roy is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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1 Comment

  • An extremely strong article Chyonika supported by great photographs. Interesting to also hear students’ own perspectives!