Negotiations for New Contract Begin
Barbara Bowen, PSC President
March 19, 2018
After months of pressure by the PSC, CUNY management came to the table last week for collective bargaining for a new contract. The current contract, the 2010-2017 agreement, expired on November 30, 2017. Under New York State law its provisions remain in effect while a new agreement is being negotiated. Two bargaining sessions were held last week, on March 14 and March 16.
It was a good beginning. The PSC bargaining team presented the union’s list of demands for a new contract and argued forcefully for the union’s full bargaining agenda. The union stressed the urgency of reaching an agreement far more quickly than in the last round and emphasized that members will not tolerate inordinate delay.
The PSC bargaining team also asked CUNY management whether they were prepared to make an economic offer at this point and called on them to provide an offer that does not reinforce austerity at CUNY. The value of salaries for full-time faculty and staff has eroded, and the wages of adjuncts are grossly inadequate. Both must be addressed. As chief negotiator for the PSC, I called specifically for annual increases for full-timers to restore competitive pay and for an increase in the minimum pay per course for adjuncts to $7000. Speaking for the bargaining team, I also outlined the union’s full list of demands, each of which will be presented in detail at later sessions.
A critical point made by the PSC was that the strength of our union is growing as we enter a new contract fight. We cited the increase in membership since the last contract and the higher percentage of members (as opposed to fee-payers) among all categories the union represents. (It’s not too late to add to that strength; click here to sign the new, stronger membership card, if you have not signed already.)
CUNY management outlined the role of New York State and City governments in authorizing any economic offer to be made to the PSC. They also listed major agreements the PSC and CUNY management have reached during the past ten years and expressed the hope that the two sides can build on those in the coming contract: paid parental leave; adjunct health insurance; graduate employee health insurance; phased retirement; dedicated sick leave and the sick leave bank; salary differentials for CLTs and Assistants to HEO with advanced academic degrees; the teaching load reduction; salary differentials for eligible HEOs; three-year appointments for adjuncts; conversion of CLIP and CUNYStart instructors to full-time positions; and more.
At the second session, on March 16, the two sides discussed and agreed on ground rules for future sessions, a process that in past rounds has sometimes taken numerous sessions. The ground rules include the PSC’s right to invite members to attend and observe bargaining sessions. Labor and management also agreed to begin in-depth discussion of certain non-economic issues in subcommittees, to allow for faster progress. Subcommittees will begin meeting soon, and formal sessions of the entire bargaining teams will also continue. The PSC will notify members of when the next session is scheduled and of how you can help to keep the pressure on for a good contract.
Remember, the most important thing you can do right now is make sure you have signed the union’s new membership card.