Professional Staff Congress | 61 Broadway, 15th Floor, NYC 10006 | 212-354-1252 |212-PSC-CUNY | firstname.lastname@example.org | AFT Local #2334
Campaign for a New CUNY Contract
PSC Makes Salary Proposal
A message from President Barbara Bowen
May 20, 2015
At the contract negotiating session last week, the union presented an economic proposal for annual salary increases. The PSC bargaining team made the proposal in order to demonstrate to the CUNY administration—and to New York City and State—that we urgently need salary increases and that we are prepared to reach a reasonable settlement. The biggest battle for our contract remains the political battle, for funding to support increases, but the union bargaining team felt the moment was right to put a number to our demand.
The PSC proposed the following increases, compounded each year after the first: a 4 percent increase, retroactive to 2010; an additional 3 percent increase, retroactive to 2011; an additional 2 percent increase, retroactive to 2012; another 2 percent increase, retroactive to 2013; another 2 percent increase, retroactive to 2014; a 2.5 percent increase in 2015; and a 3 percent increase in 2016. The total proposed increase would be 18.5 percent, about 20 percent with compounding.
I want to emphasize that the salary increases above are the union’s proposal—they do not represent agreement by management, nor do they signal a commitment of public funding. CUNY management’s response was that the proposal is overly ambitious, but that they would take it under advisement.
The union also emphasized that our proposal covers salary increases only; there are other important economic demands, such as relief in the teaching load, that would require substantial additional funding. The PSC has historically negotiated within the annual salary amounts for equity increases for certain lower-paid positions, such as College Laboratory Technician and Adjunct Lecturer, or for additional amounts applied to top salary steps; we reserved the right to negotiate similar equity increases in this round.
Why this proposal and why now? The PSC negotiating team developed the proposal after an assessment of what is needed to make progress toward competitive salaries and what has been negotiated in the recent settlements by other unions of State and City employees. While a 20 percent increase would go a long way toward addressing our salary needs, even an increase at that level would not undo all the damage done to CUNY salaries through years of planned under-funding. At the same time, we felt that it was important at this stage of bargaining to present a proposal that bears a relationship to other recent settlements with education unions in the city and other public-employee unions in New York. For instance, other City and State public employees also received a 4 percent increase in 2010. Naturally, as a union proposal, the PSC’s salary proposal aims higher and represents a higher total than in other recent settlements, but it is a serious and responsible proposal in the current fiscal climate.
The moment is right for an economic proposal, in part because the legislative session in Albany is nearing an end and in part because of developments closer to home. Above all, the union leadership has listened to you. We are painfully aware of how CUNY’s failure to produce a raise hurts each one of us, whatever our position. We felt that we had to express concretely just how sharp the need is for higher salaries. The union had not presented a proposal earlier in negotiations because of the sensitivity of discussions about economics at the State and City levels.
There has not been a bargaining session since the union’s salary proposal was presented, and we do not expect an immediate response from CUNY management. But as a union we have made it clear that we are prepared to fight for raises, retroactive pay and other improvements. We will not succumb to the false narrative that there is no money for public institutions and no possibility of better working conditions at CUNY.
And we are making progress. The pressure the PSC applied to management through the March 31 demonstration and other actions has paid off: we have finally seen real movement at the bargaining table. For the first time, CUNY representatives have engaged in meaningful discussion of our major demands on non-economic issues, such as career advancement for colleagues in HEO titles and job security for long-term adjuncts. Any agreement reached is likely to reflect a compromise between the two sides, but there has been significant movement on management’s part and some promising discussion.
Meanwhile, the PSC leadership is conducting an aggressive, strategic campaign in Albany to tackle the root problem of failure to provide adequate funding for public higher education. I thank the 1600 PSC members who are wearing t-shirts about the contract and starting conversations with students and colleagues about our shared purpose. I also thank the more than 200 members who are now meeting with their local elected representatives, reinforcing the demand that Albany must act this session to resolve our contract. (You can still sign up—we need you! Click here to join.)
We are all in this fight together, whether the issue is salary increases or teaching load or equity for library faculty. Know that every action you take as part of the campaign for justice at CUNY advances our cause.
Contract Fight Broadens to Build Student Support
Five years without a contractual raise and four without a contract is absurd, insulting and destructive. CUNY management’s failure to deliver on a contract hurts CUNY students, too, by damaging the University’s competitiveness and stalling progress on changes that would protect the quality of education. We may need the whole community in this fight; it’s time to take our message directly to students. Starting April 16, the day of an upcoming negotiating session, faculty and staff will be wearing t-shirts that say, “Five Years without a Contract Hurts CUNY Students’’—and on the back: “Ask Me Why.” Sign up here to join them and make a commitment to wear a t-shirt in class/at work.
Hundreds March to Demand Contract Progress
Hundreds of PSC members turned out Tuesday, March 31 for a rainy but spirited protest outside Hunter College to demand that CUNY management must stop stalling at the bargaining table. The CUNY bosses have put no money on the table for raises or workload improvements, and have made no real movement on the union’s non-economic demands. Albany politicians share blame with CUNY management for the lack of an economic offer, but the CUNY bosses could negotiate to improve our working and teaching conditions right now.
The protesters gathered outside the college and marched through the Upper East Side, past the homes of the “1%” to demand an alternative to anti-worker, anti-student politics. They distributed this flier explaining the action to students and passersby.
When the march returned to Hunter College, President Barbara Bowen and Treasurer Mike Fabricant led chants of "No Contract! No Peace!" and "We will win!."
Urgent Contract Action
Funding for our contract may depend on budget negotiations taking place right now in Albany. We all need to send letters! Click here to send yours.
Legislators count the letters they receive when they determine how important any budget request is. If a contract with retroactive pay matters to you, you need to send your letter—it’s as simple as that.
The letter calls on your local Assembly representative to urge Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to prioritize funding for retroactive pay for the PSC contract as part of this year's State budget negotiation. When you send your letter, a letter will also go to the Speaker informing him that you have contacted your representative.
Feel free to personalize the letters and explain what it means to you and your family and your students to have been without a contract for five years. But don’t worry if you don’t have time to add your own message; the important thing is that you send the message.
11,000 PSC Members Call for Action on the Contract
PSC officers were in Albany again Thursday, March 19 urging legislators to fund retroactive pay increases for PSC members. While there, they delivered petitions signed by more than 11,000 PSC members calling on Governor Cuomo to make the PSC-CUNY contract a priority.
PSC’s Contract-Focused Radio Ad Says:
"It's Time for Albany to Believe in CUNY"
CUNY is a national leader in community college education—but the professors and advisors of CUNY are being denied a fair union contract. That's the message of the latest PSC radio ad, which is airing this week in the Capital District and New York City. Read more.
Contract Demands Voiced at Brooklyn Hearing
Dozens of CUNY faculty and staff turned out to leaflet and testify about the PSC’s contract demands at a CUNY Board of Trustees hearing held at Brooklyn Borough Hall last night (Feb. 17). PSC members and officers delivered testimony about the urgent need for a contract with raises and read quotes from emails sent by members to the CUNY Board of Trustees during the union’s Virtual Mass Contract Action earlier this month. Follow @PSC_CUNY to see tweets about this and other contract actions.
PSC & CUNY to Albany: Fund A Contract with Raises!
PSC President Barbara Bowen and CUNY Chancellor J.B. Milliken both testified about the need for Albany to fund a PSC-CUNY Contract with retroactive raises at a State budget hearing held yesterday in Albany. The union and management also urged the Legislature to fund “mandatory costs” for CUNY, which were not funded in the Governor’s Executive Budget plan for 2015-16. The unfunded mandatory costs from CUNY’s budget request include projected cost increases for energy, rent, fringe benefits and contractual salary step increases. CUNY’s need to hire new full-time faculty and support for the NYS Dream Act were also points of agreement between the two testimonies. The PSC also testified against the governor's ill-conceived plan for performance budgeting and unwarranted intrusions in faculty governance and teacher preparation programs. Read the union’s testimony and CUNY’s testimony. Download a factsheet about CUNY’s unfunded mandatory costs called Keep Albany’s Promise.
Hundreds Call and Email Trustees during PSC’s Virtual Mass Action
Hundreds of CUNY faculty and staff took part yesterday in the PSC’s Virtual Mass Action to press Chancellor Milliken and the Board of Trustees for a fair economic offer. They placed calls to the trustees, sent emails to Chancellor Milliken and to Board Chair Benno Schmidt and tweeted at the Chancellor. (Use the hashtag #CUNYNeedsARaise to join the campaign on Twitter.) Some who took part spoke directly to trustees and demanded action on the contract. If you spoke with a trustee, email Ida Cheng at Icheng@pscmail.org to tell us about it. You can add your voice to the union’s urgent call for a fair contract offer by emailing the Chancellor and calling members of the Board of Trustees. Contact information and campaign targets are listed in the call to action emailed to CUNY faculty and staff by President Bowen the morning of Monday, February 3.
9,000+ Have Signed the Contract Petition
Add Your Name by the Feb. 17 Deadline
Last fall thousands of CUNY faculty and staff signed the contract petition to demand action on our contract by the City and State. The petition will remain open for signatures until February 17 so that everyone will have a chance to sign before it is presented publicly. Nearly 10,000 faculty and staff have already signed—if you need a raise, your name should be there! Sign here to show that you are serious about a new contract. And be ready to take part when union members present the petition at a public event.
PSC Voices Rise at CUNY Board Hearing
The University Budget Must Fund a Fair Contract
Chancellor Milliken and the CUNY Board of Trustees heard from 30 rank-and-file union members and officers at the Board’s annual budget hearing at Baruch College on November 24, 2014. The members testified about the CUNY Budget Request for 2014-2015 and its connection to a fair PSC-CUNY contract. Together, they made the case for increased salaries at every level and offered unforgettable images of the damage unmanageable workloads can inflict on CUNY students, faculty and staff. Read the testimony.
Mass Rally and March, Tues., Oct 21.
CUNY contracts are negotiated at the bargaining table, but won on the ground. And we need to keep up the pressure on CUNY and the State and City officials who approve our contracts. That's why hundreds of CUNY faculty and professional staff rallied and marched on Tuesday, October 21st. After a spirited early evening rally at the Community Church of New York on East 35th Street, attendees took to the streets, marching, chanting and singing as they went past the governor's NYC office and then to new CUNY headquarters on East 42nd Street. The message: CUNY NEEDS A RAISE. To view a photo slideshow from October 21 click here.
Contract Demonstration at Board of Trustees, Sept. 29
Sights and sounds from the demonstration are collected in the above slideshow from the PSC and a video from The Chief Leader. Check them out.
President Bowen's Sept. 29 Letter to the Board of Trustees
President Bowen delivered this letter to the Trustees during the PSC demonstration at the Sept. 29 CUNY Board meeting. In it, she says negotiations “cannot advance without money on the table.” She demands “an economic offer that recognizes the quality and importance of the work we do.” Read the full letter.
Why Our Budget and Contract Campaigns are so Intertwined.
Contracts are negotiated at the bargaining table, but won on the ground. That means mobilizing our colleagues on every campus, in our departments and in our everyday interactions. But in an era of budget shortfalls and attacks on public workers, that ground operation, while beginning on our campuses, must extend its power to Albany and City Hall. As we come to the bargaining table to negotiate a new contract with the University, the political and economic conditions that we face will no doubt influence our demands and the demands of management. That is why PSC’s budget and contract campaigns are so intertwined.
Q and A: What’s Going On in Contract Talks?
The PSC and CUNY management have made some progress in contract talks. But CUNY has not yet put forward an economic offer, and union negotiators are pressing management to do so. President Bowen answers some frequently asked questions about the contract negotiations in this article from the Sept. Clarion.
Demands for the new contract were approved at a November 4, 2010 Delegate Assembly meeting. The full text of the demands, and coverage of the DA, are available here as a special supplement of the December 2010 Clarion.