My name is Dagan Brown and I am a member of United Students Against Sweatshops at Columbia University and Barnard College, USAS local 31. The Barnard college contingent faculty, like contingent faculty across the country, had been subjected to deplorable working conditions at one of the country’s most prestigious universities. Facing poverty wages, an exorbitantly expensive healthcare plan that few contingent faculty could afford, and the pressure to juggle the instruction of multiple courses in order to make end’s meet, the Barnard contingent faculty drew upon their power as unified workers and in the Spring of 2015 formed a union: the BCF-UAW Local 2110.
For almost two years now, Barnard Contingent Faculty have been fighting for a fair contract. Students have been with them every step of the way. From collecting more than 700 student signatures in support of a fair contract, to organizing demonstrations and rallies in order to show solidarity, students have been instrumental in the fight for a Barnard that respects all faculty. After months of struggle, the Barnard contingent faculty have won a fair contract! Leading up to this incredible victory, contingent faculty were threatening to strike. Recognizing that these workers are the backbone of their school and that students will rally behind them no matter what, Barnard ultimately had to meet their demands. The same day that the fair contract was announced, our USAS chapter held a celebration rally with dozens of people in attendance.
Here are some highlights from the newly won contract:
- Starting in 2020, the minimum base pay for courses of three credits or more will be $10,000, an increase of $5,000 from the current minimum
- Term faculty will receive $70,000 per year at minimum, an increase of $10,000 from the current base pay.
- The college will put 50 percent of their contribution toward benefits—which include dental, vision, and medical benefits—for adjuncts teaching nine credits or more in an academic year, while faculty not meeting this threshold will be able to purchase a plan at full value.
This victory could not have been achieved were it not for the forces of students and workers coming together.
USAS Local 31