Since Nov. 16, some 2,600 part-time faculty members at the New School and the Parsons School of Design have been on strike. According to these instructors, they have not received a raise in four years — representing an effective pay cut of 18% when adjusted for inflation, as Gothamist noted. EVG contributor Daniel Efram reports on the latest developments this past week. All photos by Daniel Efram.
At a cost of more than $350 million, the New School's University Center, located at Fifth Avenue and 14th Street, was designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, making it one of the greenest academic buildings in the country.
Nothing was left to chance with the design; even the stairways inside were designed to foster community inside and outside the building encouraging "chance meetings."
Details matter. At this unique time in the school's history, it's fascinating to note that the University Center's facade is emblazoned with a course title like "Artists As Activists." Little did the school administration understand that its own public-facing ideology could be used against them as accusations of hypocrisy and lack of equity were shouted forth by dozens of faculty and students that marched side by side with the ACT-UAW Local 7902, the part-time faculty union, on opposite sides of Fifth Avenue on Monday.
The rallying team — sometimes arm-in-arm, and most of the time with a brass band performing — held signs that illustrated their frustration with the negotiations, including "Rogue Capitalist Employer," "No More Unpaid Labor, Pay The Profs," and "Fuck Institutional Greed Respect Educators."
"Part-time faculty have not gotten a raise since 2018," said Rachel Aydt, a 20-year part-time New School/Parson faculty member. "And the increase being offered amounts to 1.8% per year, which does not come close to the cost of living increases in New York City during this time."
According to Annie Lee Larson, part-time faculty at the New School/Parsons, roughly 87% of the teaching faculty are part-time. They seek fair compensation, including for work performed outside the classroom, reliable health care, tangible recourse against discrimination and harassment, and job security.
Though negotiations began in June, an agreement has yet to be reached. This past week, 95% of the faculty voted against accepting the last and best New School offer.
"The University is attempting to unilaterally implement their final offer against the will of part-time faculty without having reached an agreement via mutual consent via the collective bargaining process," Lee Larson said.
She said that the New School does a great job of promoting an environment of social justice and promoting its brand of progressivism.
"They put forth this image to students when they are deciding to come to school here that everyone in this community is cared for and is treated with equity, and they are finding out in attending school here firsthand that is not the case," Lee Larson said. "This strike is bringing a lot of attention to that. The students should be made aware of these atrocious working conditions."