NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A faculty protest led to an estimated arrests at the City University of New York in Midtown East Wednesday afternoon.

At least 200 faculty members, staffers and students demonstrated late Wednesday afternoon in front of the CUNY Welcome Center at 217 E. 42nd St., between Second and Third avenues, Joe Biermann reported from Chopper 2.

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The group staged a large sit-in at the entrance to the welcome center. Organizers estimated 55 protesters were cuffed and taken into police custody..

“Since you have refused to disperse, I am ordering your arrest on the charge of disorderly conduct,” an officer could be heard saying on a loud speaker.

Those who were arrested were taken in handcuffs to a wagon down the street where they were processed, Biermann reported.

Faculty and staff have been working without a contract for six years.

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Protesters defended their actions.

“We felt that we needed to invoke an action that had roots all the way back to civil rights movement,” said CUNY professor Barbara Bowen. “We’re taking a stand for educational justice, for racial justice for our students.”

One professor told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones he blames the governor and chancellor for strangling CUNY finances.

“An ongoing battle to try to penny pinch and to get the faculty to just accept whatever conditions they’re willing to give us,” he said.

The university said it has offered a new contract retroactive to Oct. 20, 2010, with wage increases totaling 6 percent.

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The offer follows 20 bargaining sessions, CUNY said.