Part-time faculty members at the New School have agreed to end a grueling, three-week strike over job security after reaching an agreement late Saturday with the university.
The sizeable walkout had left the school at a near standstill. Classes were paused because nearly 90 percent of the faculty is made up of untenured adjunct professors and lecturers. The school had also been facing a lawsuit from irate parents, who had threatened to withhold payment or force their children to transfer to other institutions. Some had called for the school’s president, Dwight A. McBride, to resign.
The instructors had been protesting for better wages and benefits, arguing that their salaries had seen only a meager increase over recent years, despite inflation and the strain of the pandemic. They also said that a disproportionate amount of university expenses went toward the salaries of administrators, even though enrollment had been rising in recent years.
“We have countersigned a tentative agreement and the strike is ending,” the union representing the part-time faculty, the ACT-UAW Local 7902, wrote on Twitter. Union members said that compensation was still not on par with those at comparable institutions in the city but that all their demands over health insurance had been met.
In a statement, the New School wrote that the agreement is “a strong, fair, five-year contract that increases compensation significantly, protects health care benefits, and ensures that part-time faculty are paid for additional work done outside the classroom to support our students.”
Over the past three weeks, as negotiations became increasingly acrimonious, the university’s handling of its budget had even been openly criticized by some of its tenured faculty, who questioned the school’s recent financial decisions that appeared to saddle the institution with more debt.
At the New School, adjunct professors had been paid $5,753 for a three-credit course, or about 135 hours of work, according to unions that represent part-time faculty. They also received longevity increases, ranging from $6 an hour for 10 years of service, to $10 an hour for 30 years of service. The university had not compensated for out-of-classroom hours, which includes time spent grading papers or counseling students.
It was not immediately clear how much the adjuncts would be paid under the new agreement. A statement from the union promised “substantial raises, with the largest raises going to faculty currently paid at the lowest rates.”
The private school in Greenwich Village had argued that it did not have enough financial leeway to accommodate the demands, because the school does not have a large endowment and relies heavily on tuition, which is among the highest in the country. Earlier in the week, the school had begun withholding wages for strikers, saying it could not compensate faculty when classes were suspended.
The total cost to attend the New School, including tuition, fees and on-campus living expenses, was $78,744 in 2021-22, an increase of 7 percent over the previous year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, though students typically pay significantly less when financial aid is included. There are about 10,800 undergraduate and graduate students.