Striking part-time faculty at the New School—now into their third week out of the classroom—overwhelmingly rejected what the university called its “last, best and final offer.”

The dispute, which ACT-UAW Local 7902 says has halted classes for 10,000 students, will now move to mediation

The local, representing adjunct and part-time instructors, has maintained a spirited picket line outside the University Center in Greenwich Village alongside students, full-time instructors and other allies since going on strike Nov. 16.

Part-time instructors—nearly 90 percent of all New School faculty—have been without a new contract since 2019.

Negotiations to replace the contract that had expired in 2019 had gone on for nearly five months. They covered a wide range of issues—health-benefits costs, job security, paid family leave, raises adjusted to inflation and pay for non-instructional hours. Nearly 90 percent of the New School’s more than 2,000 instructors are not full time.

“They’ve exploited us,” said Graham MacIndoe, an associate photography professor who has been part time for 11 years. 

“I do double the amount of time I get paid for, at least. I don’t get paid for syllabus. I don’t get paid for creating lectures. I don’t get paid for grading. I don’t get paid for emailing people on Tuesday nights. I don’t get paid for the emotional support that I’ve given students over many years but specifically during the pandemic.”

The administration, citing a pandemic revenue shortfall of $130 million and an annual operating budget of $454 million, says what the union wants would cost $683 million over the five years of a new contract. The local countered that the university’s offer, which included a proposed 18-percent raise over five years, failed to address members’ key concerns.

On Tuesday, as the picket line grew to hundreds by mid-afternoon, protestors marched below the gleaming glass facade of the 16-story center that opened in 2014 at a projected cost of more than $350 million.

Course titles affixed as stickers on the side of the New School University Center reflect ideals that have not been honored in this labor dispute, union members say.

Slick decals along the building’s street-level windows announces a selection of course names such as “Inequality and Varieties of Capitalism,” “Critical Fashion” and “Social Justice, Artists as Activists. “

The windows also reflect scenes of icketers beat drums, clapping in unison and waving protest signs. MacIndoe compared the sight to walking into a bakery where alluring cakes are kept just out of reach behind glass.

“They’ve basically sprinkled crumbs at us,” MacIndoe said. 

Characterizing the university’s ultimatum as an “aggressive union-busting tactic,” the local posted the 100-page offer online. 

After a weekend to look it over, strikers remained unmoved. 

“We ain’t settling,” MacIndoe said while walking the picket line on Fifth Avenue. “I’ll be here.”