Pace adjunct professor Paul Guzzone, right, celebrates his union’s new contract alongside students Dominick LaRuffa, left, and Christopher Bert, center, who performed in “The Cradle Will Rock.”
Play revival rejuvenates Pace labor agreement
By Julie Shapiro
A creative protest turned into a celebration earlier this month when Pace University’s adjunct faculty union received a long-awaited contract from the university administration.
The union and the university negotiated the terms of the agreement last year with an arbitrator, but it was held up for months because Stephen Friedman, Pace’s president, had not signed it. Frustrated, the union decided to stage a protest by appearing onstage during a student production of “The Cradle Will Rock,” a 1930s pro-union musical.
But on the afternoon of March 6, on the third day of the show, the union received word that Friedman had at last signed the agreement. So when the union took the stage during the play that night, it was not to protest but to declare victory.
“It was so exciting,” said Barbara Lerner, union secretary. “Everybody was crying, and the kids were cheering. It’s been going on now for four-and-a-half years…. It’s just a wonderful feeling to have it finally over.”
The agreement gives a minimum salary of $850 a credit for adjunct faculty, which was the average adjunct salary for the 2007-’08 school year, Lerner said. The contract also includes retroactive raises going back to 2006 and 3 percent raises for the current and next two school years, among other new benefits.
“It’s not a great contract but I think it’s a fair contract,” Lerner said.
Chris Cory, Pace spokesperson, confirmed that nothing else stands in the way of implementing the contract. He declined to give the reason for the delay.
“We are very pleased that the negotiations have been concluded and the contract ratified,” he said.