Mercy College, adjuncts reach tentative agreement to avert Monday strike

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A tentative agreement reached between Mercy College and the local union representing its adjunct faculty at the school’s Bronx, Manhattan and Dobbs Ferry campuses will put an end to a planned Monday strike.
Photo courtesy Mercy College

Adjunct faculty members of Mercy College campuses in the Bronx, Dobbs Ferry and Manhattan were prepared for a strike on Monday if demands for an immediate increase of minimum adjunct pay and longer-term appointments were not met. But a tentative deal struck Friday will avert any planned strike for the foreseeable future.

Negotiations, a Mercy College source told the Bronx Times, took roughly 7 hours on Thursday night.

The union, SEIU Local 200 United, which represents the adjunct faculty staff, told the Bronx Times that the tentative agreement — which is subject to final approval by the members in a secret ballot vote — includes a pay increase, tuition remission for families, longevity pay and signing bonuses and “more stability for adjunct faculty who teach on a course by course basis.”

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed by either party on Monday morning.

The union had been seeking a contract for about two years, with calls for minimum adjunct pay of $4,700 per course — school administrators were given until semester’s end, on April 23, to meet their demands. The union thanked the adjunct faculty members, students and others who supported the effort to arrive at a contract.

Mercy College President Tim Hill said that with both sides reaching an initial bargaining agreement, he anticipated “no disruption” among faculty and adjunct as it pertains to a future strike.

U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a Mercy alum, said the agreement was “a big win” for SEIU Local 200 and its adjuncts who were able to secure better pay, more benefits, and more stability for their workers.

“When we say we are stronger together, this is truly what we mean,” said Bowman, who represents a district that includes both the Northern Bronx and parts of Westchester County. “I was proud to support SEIU Local 200 in their demands before, and I am even prouder to stand with them now as we continue to fight and win for our workers, their families, and unions overall.”

Mercy College relies on adjunct faculty and lecturers to teach its predominantly working-class students, who make up approximately 70% of Mercy College’s instructional faculty.

However, adjunct faculty wages lag significantly behind other regional colleges, prior to the most recent agreement. Most adjunct faculty make between $3,000 and $3,300 per three-credit course and are hired on a semester-by-semester basis, with no guarantee of reappointment or renewal, whereas non-adjunct, full-time staff earn about $4,000 per three-credit course.

“A tentative agreement with the college and the first union contract is significant progress and progress everyone should be very proud of,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “I’m pleased to hear there will be no strike Monday, and that the adjunct faculty will continue to do the fine work the college is known for.”

Reach Robbie Sequeira at rsequeira@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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