On Monday, January 11, two days before the release of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget, clergy and representatives of the city’s most active community groups, civil rights organizations, and unions urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to restore state funding for the City University of New York and invest in CUNY’s students, faculty and staff. The call came at news conference held outside Cuomo’s midtown office building.
News & Events
Low-wage staff members and student workers at the State University of New York will receive a much-needed increase in wages because of executive action taken today (January 4, 2016) by Governor Andrew Cuomo. But thousands of staff and student workers at the City University of New York are being denied the $15 minimum wage. Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo has continued to keep per-student funding at CUNY basically flat, leaving CUNY funding 14% below 2008 levels.
“Lifting the wage floor for fast-food workers, state employees and now SUNY workers is the right thing to do. Governor Cuomo listened to the growing demand from workers, students, labor unions, faith leaders and others. But singling out CUNY’s workers on the state payroll for exclusion is a monumental failure of progressive leadership. No institution embodies the progressive, pro-worker, anti-poverty goals of the minimum wage more than CUNY. No institution does more than CUNY to overcome the income inequality that the governor decries.” said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, the union of CUNY faculty and staff.
“The decision to exclude CUNY from the wage increase is a slap in the face to the thousands of low-wage workers whose labor helps to make a college education possible for CUNY’s 500,000 students. It is part of a pattern of refusing to invest the necessary funds in CUNY: the governor continues to deny any state funding for pay increases for CUNY’s academic staff, who have not had a raise in five years. Cuomo’s continuing refusal to invest in decent pay for CUNY workers is hurting the whole University. Full-time faculty are beginning to seek other jobs, and there are part-time faculty on food stamps because their CUNY salaries are so low,” Bowen continued.
Senator Bernie Sanders, presidential candidate and Brooklyn native, is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to invest in the City University of New York and fund a fair union contract for CUNY faculty and staff. The message from Senator Sanders came in a letter delivered to Governor Cuomo last Friday, the same day he vetoed legislation to fund CUNY and SUNY.
Senator Sanders tells Cuomo in the letter that “CUNY represents hope for economic and social justice.” Sanders calls the recent cuts that CUNY senior colleges have been forced to make due to underfunding from the state “unfair to New York’s students and unfair to our country’s future.”
overnor Cuomo’s veto of legislation to protect educational quality for a half-million mostly low-income CUNY students undermines CUNY’s ability to offer an excellent education and betrays the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who rely on CUNY as a route to a better life, according to CUNY’s faculty and staff union.
After the veto of the MOE bill, the PSC announced a social media ad campaign to press Governor Cuomo to change course and stop starving CUNY of resources.
Faculty and Staff Blockade Doors to CUNY Central, Demand Fair Contract to Protect Quality Education
Fifty three CUNY faculty and professional staff were arrested on Wednesday, November 4 demanding a contract that will help CUNY retain excellent professors, ensuring a quality education for the 500,000 CUNY students across the city. They blocked the doors to the midtown office building housing CUNY’s central administration and refused to move until the university management made a fair offer to resolve their long-expired union contract. 800 faculty, staff, students and supporters rallied to support them.
More than 100 LaGuardia Community College students, faculty and staff rallied on Wednesday, December 9 against tuition hikes and for long-overdue pay increases for CUNY’s faculty and staff. The bracing picket, organized by the LaGuardia chapter of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) and Local 384 of DC37 and supported by the Student Government Association, College Senate and the Japan Club, called on the governor to reject CUNY’s planned tuition hikes and invest state funding in CUNY. Tuition at LaGuardia and other CUNY community colleges has increased $1,500 over the last five years, all while the college’s 2,500 faculty and staff have been working under expired union contracts, without a raise. The event was covered by NY1, the Queens Chronicle, the Queens Ledger, the Korea Times and the Chinese language World Journal. (We’ll post links as they come online.)
Bill Would Improve Quality of Public Higher Education
The State Assembly delivered to Governor Cuomo today legislation that overwhelmingly passed the Assembly and Senate to protect educational quality at New York’s two public university systems, the City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY). Under Governor Cuomo, per-student funding for CUNY has remained essentially flat. Since 2008, it has been cut 14%.
More than 40,000 students are urging Governor Cuomo to sign the bi-partisan Maintenance of Effort bill, legislation to protect educational quality at CUNY and SUNY. Postcards signed by the students were delivered to the governor’s office on Friday, November 20 by a coalition of groups, including the PSC, CUNY University Student Senate (USS) and the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). Students and faculty leaders also held a press conference.
Sixteen chapters are scheduled for election in April 2016. Up for election are Chapter Officers, Delegates and Alternates to the PSC Delegate Assembly and PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund Advisory Council. The Term of Office is 3 Years. To vote, one must be a member of the chapter as of December 1, 2016.
1. Deadline for filling Declarations of Candidacy will be January 6, 2016.
2. Pre-printed Nominating petitions will be available upon request from the PSC office on
February 1, 2016.
3. Fully completed nominating petitions must be received at the PSC office, 61
Broadway – Ste. 1500, New York, N.Y. 10006, by 5:00 pm, March 2, 2016.
4. Ballots will be mailed to members’ home addresses on April 1, 2016.
5. Ballots will be counted April 29, 2016.
For a list of chapters up for election, more details and the official election notice, click here.
Governor Cuomo is Failing CUNY Students
“CUNY Union Questions Cuomo's Progressive Credentials.” That was the PoliticoNY headline the day after nearly 1,000 faculty and staff packed the Great Hall at Cooper Union for a mass meeting Thurs., Nov. 19. At the meeting, President Bowen laid the failure to resolve the PSC-CUNY contract at Governor Cuomo’s feet, saying: “Governor Cuomo cannot call himself a progressive if he is not progressive on CUNY, if he is not willing to make a real investment in the education of the low-income working people, people of color, and immigrants whom CUNY serves… Failure to invest in CUNY faculty and staff represents a political decision not to invest in the people we teach.”
Bowen also laid out a five-point strategy for winning a fair contract and announced the union’s counter offer. The strategy includes: 1) naming Governor Cuomo’s responsibility for not funding our contract and demanding that he change his position; 2) enlarging our fight by involving more allies; 3) amplifying our message through increasingly aggressive media and social media campaigns; 4) making a counter-proposal to CUNY’s below-inflation offer; 5) getting organized to use our full power, if necessary, by building for a strike authorization vote. The PSC counter-offer calls for increases of a total of 14% over 6 years and includes other proposals to enhance the quality of students’ education, including allowing faculty more time with individual students and establishing employment continuity for adjunct instructors.