Contract Ratified by a 94% "YES" Vote
I'm proud to announce that the 25,000 faculty and professional staff represented by PSC will receive long-overdue raises because an overwhelming 94 percent majority of PSC members voted to ratify the new PSC-CUNY contract.
The agreement provides 10.41 percent in compounded salary increases over a period of slightly more than seven years, from October 20, 2010 through November 30, 2017. The raises will be retroactive to April 20, 2012 and will be paid to employees who worked at CUNY between then and now even if they have retired or left CUNY. The contract includes more than three times the back pay originally offered by CUNY, won because PSC members stood up to management and to Albany. (Use this online tool to estimate your retroactive pay.)
It took a militant, public campaign and strike authorization vote to win the salary increases. At the same time, the campaign built the leverage needed to negotiate breakthrough provisions on adjunct job security, full-time faculty workload, and other gains that will improve teaching and learning conditions at CUNY. It also includes a signing bonus for current employees.
A record-breaking 72 percent of eligible voters participated in the contract ratification vote. The level of engagement is unprecedented in PSC ratification votes; it is a testament to our shared vision of a better university and evidence of your commitment to member-to-member organizing.
The contract consolidates gains won by the union between the expiration of the last contract in 2010 and the end of the most recent negotiations--including adjunct health insurance on the NYC plan, paid parental leave, and increased funding for faculty research grants. It also introduces a new provision for multi-year appointments for eligible teaching adjuncts at CUNY. The health insurance and multi-year appointments represent major steps toward greater professionalism and equity in the treatment of adjuncts, providing increased stability for academic departments and guaranteed income and accrued sick days for adjuncts on three-year appointments. More than 86 percent of adjunct faculty who took part in the ratification vote voted "yes."
In addition, the full-time faculty now have a contractual commitment and a timetable to restructure the teaching load to ensure that they have the time to mentor students and to conduct research. Professional staff in "non-promotional" HEO titles have gained opportunities for advances in pay and title.
Thank you for organizing, turning out to dozens of rallies, attending news conferences and lobby days, and most fundamentally, thank you for sticking together during this very difficult fight. I also want to offer my sincere thanks to the other PSC officers and the union staff, without whose unwavering support and work this contract would not have been possible. There is much more to do to make CUNY the university that its students, faculty and professional staff deserve, but because of your activism, the PSC is well positioned to continue this important work.
Dear PSC Members:
You will receive an email Monday, July 11 from the American Arbitration Association with the information you need in order to vote on ratification of the proposed new contract. Watch your email for a message; voting instructions will be in the message and are posted on the union website.
I urge you to vote "yes" for ratification. A majority "yes" vote by the membership will allow CUNY to start processing salary increases and retroactive pay.
Read the FAQs on the union website for details of the increases and back pay. And watch for the new issue of Clarion, which contains full texts of the proposed agreements, comments by the bargaining team and much more.
A "no" vote on ratification would mean no salary increases and no retroactive pay unless they are agreed to by CUNY, the City and the State as part of a renegotiated contract.
PSC members have never worked harder for a contract, and I know that we wanted more and deserve more. Our militant campaign, culminating in a 92 percent strike authorization vote, enabled us to defeat certain fiscal austerity policies of New York State and wrest substantial gains out of CUNY management. But without a statewide or class-wide movement and against entrenched power, we were not able to break the structure of economic austerity.
At 10.41 percent, the salary increases are at the minimum acceptable level. They are almost exactly even with inflation for our region through the current date and close to projected inflation for next year. The retroactive pay is significant-and was not agreed to by CUNY until the final week of bargaining.
The raises, however, are not enough to lift all CUNY salaries to competitive levels or to close the gap between part-time and full-time pay. But the PSC campaign gave us the leverage to achieve a proposed contract that defies austerity in critical arenas other than salary-teaching load, advancement for HEOs, annual leave for library faculty, and major equity gains for adjuncts. (Click here for FAQs on the equity gains and more.)
A "yes" vote on ratification would allow these advances to be implemented, along with the raises and retroactive pay:
- Commitment to reduce the full-time faculty teaching load by 3 hours
- The first-ever multi-year appointments for adjuncts at CUNY
- Accrued sick days for adjuncts on multi-year appointments
- Changes in HEO reclassification guidelines
- Opportunity for HEOs on top step of lower three titles to receive $2500 addition to base pay
- Increased annual leave for library faculty
- New annual positions for CLIP and CUNY Start instructors
- Additional Welfare Funding, to allow a benefit improvement
- Elimination of waiting period for health insurance for graduate employees who move to adjunct positions
- New contract language on online teaching
What happens if the majority votes "no"? If the contract is not ratified, no salary increases or new provisions will be implemented, and the union will seek to return to negotiations with CUNY. We would most likely begin organizing for a strike-with both the potential power and the risk such a step involves. While the bargaining team is prepared to do whatever is needed, its members voted unanimously to recommend the proposed contract because we believe that the best way to increase the union's power is to build on the considerable gains this contract achieves.
The union's Delegate Assembly voted by an overwhelming margin to recommend the proposed contract for ratification. Representing the whole PSC membership in all of its diversity of needs, salaries and positions, they urge you to vote "yes."
A "yes" vote is an affirmation of what we achieved because we fought; it is a vote to claim our victories. It should also be a vote to build on the power we developed in this fierce contract struggle and use it to work toward a larger movement.
I salute you for the work you did for this contract, and I believe it is worthy of that work. I urge you to vote "yes."
Delegate Assembly Recommends Contract Agreement for Ratification
After a spirited debate, the Delegate Assembly voted Thursday, June 23 to submit the tentative contract agreement to the PSC membership for a ratification vote. The vote to recommend ratification of the new contract passed by an overwhelming majority of 111 in favor to 11 opposed. The CUNY Board of Trustees approved the agreement at their Monday, June 27 meeting. PSC members will then have the final word on the contract during a ratification vote to be held July 11 - August 3.
1% across-the-board effective 4/20/12
1% across-the-board effective 4/20/13, compounded
2.5% across-the-board effective 4/20/14, compounded
2% across-the-board effective 4/20/15, compounded
2% across-the-board effective 4/20/16, compounded
1.5% across-the board effective 4/20/17, compounded
TOTAL: 10.41% (with compounding)
- The increases are fully retroactive, and will be applied, as in previous PSC contracts, to all employees under the contract who were on payroll at the time the raises were effective.
- The retroactive cash payment will be made in two checks. We expect both payments to be made in the 2016 calendar year, but the date depends on when the City and State process the payroll. CUNY has agreed to use its best efforts to ensure timely retroactive payment.
The proposed contract covers a period of just over seven years: 85 months + 14 days. It will be in effect from October 20, 2010 to November 30, 2017.
- A lump-sum payment of $1,000 for full-time employees, pro-rated for part-time employees, will be made to all those who are on payroll as of September 1, 2016 and who were also on payroll on May 1, 2016.
- The PSC was able to negotiate the full $1,000 signing bonus for adjuncts who taught 9 or more contact hours in both semesters of the 2015-16 academic year and who are on payroll on September 1, 2016.
- We were also able to negotiate a signing bonus of $750 for Graduate Assistants A, B, and C, and a $500 signing bonus for Graduate Assistants D, on payroll on the dates above.
Increased Welfare Fund Contribution to Allow Improved Dental Benefit:
- Additional funding achieved through the contract and directed to the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund will allow the Welfare Fund to improve the dental benefit. Welfare Fund staff and Board of Directors are determining how to use the additional funding most effectively to improve the dental benefit; details will be announced later this summer.
- As part of the contract, CUNY management agrees that it is "committed to a shared goal of reducing the annual undergraduate teaching contact hour workload for full-time classroom teaching members of the instructional staff by 3 teaching contact hours."
- A labor/management committee, in place by October 1, 2016, will develop a plan and identify resources to reduce the contractual teaching load by 3 hours.
- The plan will be implemented no later than the conclusion of the next round of bargaining.
- The reduction in the contractual teaching load is designed to allow faculty more time for mentoring, academic research, and individual attention to students.
Improved Advancement Opportunities for HEOs:
- Assistants to HEO, HEO Assistants and HEO Associates who have completed one or more years of service at the top salary step for their title will be eligible to nominate themselves or be nominated by their supervisor for a $2,500 increase to their base pay in recognition of "excellence in performance or increased responsibilities within the title."
- The HEO Reclassification Guidelines will be changed to allow HEOs to nominate themselves directly for reclassification. The Guidelines will also recognize that a significant increase in volume of work can transform the nature of the position and be a factor in reclassification to a higher title. Reclassification to the highest HEO title will be possible even if there is another HEO in the highest title in the same office or department.
Multi-Year Appointments for Teaching Adjuncts:
- The contract creates a five-year pilot program to restructure adjunct appointments for those who regularly teach at least 6 contact teaching hours a semester in the same department of a college.
- Full information about the program will be provided on the PSC website in the coming week; it is presented only in outline here.
- Starting in Fall 2017, an adjunct who has taught at least 6 contact teaching hours per semester in the same department of the college for the 10 most recent semesters will be considered for a three-year appointment.
- To receive a three-year appointment, an adjunct must receive a positive recommendation by the department P&B committee following a comprehensive review. As with all appointments, approval by the college president is required.
- Subsequent appointments will be for three years, and will involve a review.
- Adjuncts on three-year appointments will be assigned at least 6 contact teaching hours a semester.
- If, for some reason, the department is unable to offer 6 contact teaching hours in any semester during the three-year appointment, the department chair will offer the adjunct either a non-teaching adjunct assignment or a course (or courses) to make up the hours at some time during the next year.
- As a one-time transition to the new program, adjuncts who have taught at least 6 contact teaching hours in the same department of the college for 14 of the 18 semesters preceding the 2016-17 academic year-including the four most recent semesters-will receive a two-year appointment without a performance review. The two-year appointments will cover the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years.
- Adjuncts on two-year and three-year appointments will accrue sick days, up to a cap of three weeks.
- Graduate Assistants who are covered for health insurance through NYSHIP and who then immediately become adjuncts will no longer have to work for a year as an adjunct before being eligible for health insurance through the NYC Health Benefits Program. They may move immediately to adjunct health insurance, providing they meet other eligibility requirements.
- Graduate Assistants will be eligible to apply for grants to support their research from the Adjunct Professional Development Fund, with priority given to applications from those with lower fellowship support.
- Annual leave for faculty employed full time as librarians, regardless of years of service, will be increased to 40 work days.
Adjunct Professional Development Fund:
- For the first time, funding for this program will be made permanent, with $160,000 added each year to the total.
CLIP and CUNY Start Instructors:
- CUNY will create two new full-time titles: CLIP Instructor and CUNY Start Instructor. The new titles will have annualized salaries equivalent to the Lecturer salary schedule.
- The new titles will also have annualized health insurance and PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund benefits.
- Details on other contract provisions that apply will be available soon.
Educational Opportunity Centers
- EOC employees will receive the same salary increases, retroactive pay and signing bonus as other CUNY employees.
- EOC adjuncts who meet the eligibility requirements will be eligible to receive health insurance through the NYC Health Benefits Program and supplemental benefits from the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund.
Educational Technology and Distance Learning:
- New contract language will be developed by a joint labor/management committee to govern contractual observations of online classroom teaching.
- For the first time, full-time faculty and staff will have a contractual entitlement to paid bereavement leave for a death in the family. The leave will be for up to four days.
- Adjuncts will be allowed to use their existing personal emergency leave for bereavement. Adjuncts using the leave will be expected to give advance notice, but will not be required, as they are now, to request such leave in advance.
Grievance and Discipline:
- On a pilot-program basis, several changes have been made to speed up the Grievance and Discipline processes. Full details will be available on the PSC website.
- CUNY's demands prioritized increasing management's discretion to pay higher salaries to selected faculty and staff for the purpose of recruitment and retention. The union agreed to increase by 15 percentage points the limit of such salaries.
- The union also agreed to a five-year pilot program that would allow up to 10 appointments annually, CUNY-wide, with no salary cap, governed by the existing contractual procedures.
- The union agreed to participate in a labor/management committee to examine and make recommendations on salaries in the business schools at CUNY colleges. Discussion of whether a new salary scale should be introduced will include salaries of part-time as well as full-time faculty.
- CUNY management pressed hard to allow an unlimited number of annual appointments for full-time faculty on one-year contracts, without access to tenure. The union refused.
- CUNY also wanted an unlimited number of such full-time positions; the union agreed to allow up to 250, CUNY-wide.
Please keep in mind that the summary above does not include every detail of every provision-and that many provisions reflect struggle and compromise. More information will be available in the coming week.
Thank you for the passion, organizing and tenacity that made the agreement possible.