Professional Staff Congress | 61 Broadway, 15th Floor, NYC 10006 | 212-354-1252 |212-PSC-CUNY | email@example.com | AFT Local #2334
PSC 40th Anniversary Celebrated at Retiree Luncheon
[To date, two events have marked the 40th anniversary: (1) A retirees luncheon on June 18th, described below; and (2) A special ceremony on June 1st at the Wagner Labor Archives of New York University adding the names of PSC founders Belle Zeller and Israel Kugler to the Tamiment Library's Pillars of Labor (click here for coverage).]
“Happy 40th anniversary PSC!”
That was the inscription on a big anniversary cake baked to celebrate four decades of the union’s history at a special Retirees Chapter luncheon on June 18th on the Richard Harris Terrace at BMCC.
The program honored the two living presidents of the PSC, Irwin Polishook who held the office from 1976 to 2000 and Barbara Bowen, 2000 to the present. Both were presented with a framed memento of photos and Clarion headlines profiling the union’s accomplishments during their presidencies.
There was a common theme that ran through both Polishhook’s and Bowen’s comments: The use of austerity politics to attack CUNY and other public agencies -- and how we mobilized to fight back.
Polishook observed that the NYC fiscal crisis of the mid seventies and the assault on labor, when he was PSC president, seems less and less like a temporary aberration and more and more like an enduring feature of the contemporary city (and state, national and worldwide) political landscape. Bowen (and John Hyland who introduced her) expanded on this theme, noting that austerity is a political construction that serves to transfer wealth from working people to the wealthy few. While the union faced austerity politics in the seventies and the past decade, both Polishook and Bowen, without diminishing the difficulties of operating in such a context, pointed to landmark victories achieved by the union -- the very preservation of CUNY in the seventies to the funding of parental leave, “80%” sabbaticals and a more stable system of adjunct healthcare most recently.
The remarks by Polishook and Bowen were amplified by the collective memory of the people in the room. When you have a gathering of ninety people of retirement age, there is close to 6,000 years of aggregate memory under one roof. Several retirees took advantage of an open mike to highlight memories of events at particular colleges, to recall rank and file mobilization during the fiscal crisis of the seventies and to display newspapers from one of the PSC’s precursors in the sixties, the United Federation of College Teachers (UFCT). The PSC was founded in 1972 as a result of the merger of the UFCT and Legislative Conference.
Below are images for the five poster boards. You can take a closer look at the poster boards with an enlarged view by downloading them as PDFs. Click the designated poster from the following list to download:
|PSC 1970s.pdf||1.81 MB|
|PSC 1980s.pdf||2.25 MB|
|PSC 1990s.pdf||954.77 KB|
|PSC 00-07.pdf||4.62 MB|
|PSC 07-12.pdf||1.36 MB|