Members of the Graduate Student Employees Union/CWA 1104 (GSEU) and Adjuncts Instructors from the United University Professions (UUP) joined forces on Halloween for a Grade-In to raise awareness around their low wages and often unmanageable class sizes. GSEU & UUP members showed up to grade papers, review research and prep for their classes—all in an effort to remind President Jones and the entire SUNY Albany administration that Contingent Labor—Graduate & Teaching Assistant, as well as Adjunct labor, are essential to the function of our universities because contingent labor makes up about 39% of all credits taught at SUNY Albany.
"I am a GA teaching 120 students right now and I did the math, my stipend pays me $60 per student for the entire semester. Doesn’t the University at Albany administration think our students are worth more than that?" said Nicole D’Anna, GSEU Chief Steward & 4th year PhD student in Sociology
Contingent labor often teaches the foundational courses across departments, making them the first contact for undergraduates entering SUNY Albany, but they are compensated so poorly many take on second jobs.
Vincent Commisso, a Political Science adjunct in the process of writing his dissertation offered his experience of working at a nearby cafe while teaching, “I get paid more to make sandwiches for my students than I do to teach them in a college course. Our universities are broken.”
When most folks think of university education, poverty-level wages for campus educators and support staff don’t come to mind but that’s what thousands of GTAs and Adjuncts are facing in the SUNY system. The average pay per course is $2,800 for adjuncts and around $13,000 per year for GTAs. The Self-Sufficiency Wage for 1 adult in Albany County is around $22,000.
The event ran for 3 hours and the dozen or so folks who showed up during the first 30 minutes had taught nearly 3,000 students total in their time at SUNY Albany.