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The Moral Monday campaign, which has swept across the South and dared to demand that state budgets be moral documents, is coming to Albany this Monday, January 12. The focus of its initial Monday this year is public education. It is important that PSC members be there.

Many of us are not teaching in January, so this is the perfect chance to get on a bus to Albany and take a stand against the immorality of unequal education in New York State.

Please join teachers, parents, professors and education workers from across the state in a demonstration inside the Capitol at noon this Monday. Buses leave from different locations in the city in the early morning and are free of charge. Check here for the one nearest you.

Dr. Arnold Cantor, executive director of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY and one of its predecessor organizations for 25 years, died December 22, 2014. Long retired, Dr. Cantor was a resident of Stow, Ohio at the time of his passing. Colleagues posting condolences on the NY Times Obituary Guest Book remember Dr. Cantor as a staunch union man and an enormous influence on the development of the PSC into a major academic union.

“The PSC officers and staff mourn the passing of Dr. Arnold Cantor and offer our condolences to his friends and family,” said Steve London, PSC’s first vice president. Those who wish may contribute to the Dr. Arnold Cantor Memorial Fund, c/o The Cleveland Music School Settlement.

The Professional Staff Congress/CUNY condemns the murder of Detectives Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. During this period of mourning, we send our deepest sympathy to their families, friends and colleagues. Even though many classes are not in session, PSC colleagues have held moments of silence in their memory at several colleges.

The PSC will continue to work peacefully for a justice system that is fair to all and for a world no longer deformed by racism. Those are goals that can unite us all.

The deadline for filing for candidacy for the upcoming union-wide elections is this Friday, January 9. The declaration of candidacy form is available for download here. The spring elections are for the PSC’s principal officer positions of President, First Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer; for Vice Presidents for Senior Colleges, Community Colleges, Part-Time Personnel and Cross-Campus Units; and for the other 19 positions on the PSC Executive Council. Members will also elect delegates to the AFT, NYSUT and AAUP. Visit the Elections Committee webpage for elections rules and more dates and deadlines for the 2015 PSC elections.

PSC spent Wednesday, December 10 urging Albany to modernize the forty-year-old Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), with First Vice President Steve London advocating major structural changes and major funding increases to the program.

“City University faculty and staff know first-hand that TAP needs an update. TAP is failing part-time students, adult learners and undocumented students, to name just a few of the types of students who are underserved or ignored altogether by the program,” London testified before a hearing of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, chaired by Manhattan Democrat Deborah Glick.

A message from Barbara Bowen, president of the PSC:

Dear Members,

The PSC Executive Council voted unanimously to call on all CUNY faculty and professional staff to observe a moment of silence at 11:00 AM this Thursday, December 11, in memory of Eric Garner. We have asked for an extraordinary gesture because this is an extraordinary moment. The failure to issue indictments in Ferguson and Staten Island—the decision not even to take the cases to trial—suggests that black and brown lives in the United States continue to be devalued. As educators at a university founded on the premise that “the children of the whole people” are entitled to equal education, CUNY faculty and staff have a special responsibility to challenge the devaluing of any lives in the diverse communities that make up our student body. By observing a collective moment of silence, we will send a counter-message of respect; we will silently make the public assertion that black lives matter.

On Dec. 4, fast food workers in at least 150 cities nationwide will walk off the job demanding $15 per hour and the right to form a union. Fast food workers and other low-wage workers from New York City will rally at 11:30 AM this Thurs., Dec. 4 at City Hall to demand that State leaders in Albany take action to improve the pay of low-wage workers. CUNY’s contingent faculty have become visible in the struggle in our city for fair pay and economic justice. Come to the rally to show your support for your CUNY colleagues and to act in solidarity with all struggling workers. Download a flier here. Follow #RaiseUpNY for updates on Twitter.

Every year, the PSC partners with our statewide affiliate, NYSUT, and with student organizations like, NYPIRG and CUNY USS, to organize opportunities for PSC members to meet face-to-face with lawmakers in Albany and City Hall about the need to increase funding for CUNY, expand financial aid and pass legislation that supports the university community. Union leaders are often in contact with lawmakers, and the union produces a new batch of budget advocacy materials annually, but its rank-and-file members who make the difference. Elected officials need to hear from you about the challenges you face teaching and working at CUNY. Click here to download a save-the-date flier about grassroots lobbying opportunities both in Albany and here in NYC during February, March and April.

A draft of the University Budget Request for FY 2015-2016 is posted here. In it CUNY requests a $135.7 million increase in total funding for senior colleges and a $68.5 million increase for community colleges. More than half of the new funding would come from tuition hikes; 29% would come in the form of new State Aid and 7% would be new City Support. Investments in new full-time faculty, online education, academic advising, and the Advanced Science Research Center are proposed in the budget request, along with extra funding for programs that promote student success.  

CUNY’s phased retirement pilot program is a negotiated benefit that allows Optional Retirement Program participants who meet eligibility requirements to elect a reduced workload and reduced salary for up to three years immediately preceding retirement. If you are considering retiring and are a member of the Optional Retirement Program, the deadline to file for phased retirement for academic year of 2015-16 has changed from October 1, 2014 to November 15, 2014. Details about the plan are available in the letter of agreement about the program. Click here for the faculty application and here for the staff application.