Demanding A Fair Contract, Funding for Quality Education
Elected leaders of the faculty and professional staff union at the City University of New York (CUNY) were arrested Monday, December 10 while demanding a contract that will help ensure a quality education for the half-million CUNY students across the city. Seventeen protesters, including the union president, vice president and secretary, local campus leaders and members of the executive council, blocked the doors to Baruch College near the Flatiron District of Manhattan during a meeting of the CUNY Board of Trustees. Hundreds more CUNY faculty and staff chanted “CUNY Trustees, do you job! Demand the funding CUNY needs!” during the blockade. Read more.
Bargaining Update #5
As pressure builds for an economic offer on our contract, it’s time for some graphic expression of our demands. The eleven new posters in the above slideshow have been issued by the PSC. The posters call for “Contract Now!” and highlight many of the union’s major demands. Send a visual message about the demands that are important to you and show your support for demands that are important to your coworkers. Contact your chapter chair to find out how to get a poster or two, and plaster your hallways!
As of November 30, our contract is a year overdue. The CUNY Board of Trustees is expected to announce the University’s budget request within the next two weeks. The budget request should reveal whether management is asking the City and State for full funding for our contract, plus funding for the full-time faculty teaching load reduction and the substantial additional investment needed to reach a $7,000 minimum for adjunct pay.
The trustees have another public hearing scheduled for Monday, December 3, at LaGuardia Community College, and the hearing may include testimony on the budget. The PSC leadership plans to testify, and other members and students are also planning to speak. All members are encouraged to speak out, but the major PSC event will be Monday, December 10, the day of the expected Board vote on the budget proposal for next year.
Join the bargaining team at the December 10 meeting and help us to pack the room. The trustees need to know that we are watching and that we are prepared to act. If the budget request does not include what PSC members need, members should be ready for a protest action as early as that evening. We need everyone there in support! Click here to let us know we can count on you to attend the Board meeting: Monday, December 10, at 4:30 p.m. at Baruch College’s Vertical Campus.
As the union leadership and activists built pressure on the trustees throughout the fall, the bargaining team continued to meet across the table from CUNY management for detailed negotiations. Formal bargaining sessions have been held about every two weeks, and scores of rank-and-file PSC members have attended as observers. Click here if you’d like to be contacted about upcoming opportunities to observe.
CUNY management continues to focus on a small number of demands. In addition to the demand discussed in the last bargaining update to allow summer teaching to be substituted for teaching in the Fall and Spring semesters as part of the annual full-time faculty teaching load, management representatives introduced two other demands as priorities. One is to create a new provision for non-recurring payments to full-time faculty for specialized work assignments performed in addition to their normal workload, such as development of new online courses. The other is to reconfigure six credits of the current 24 credits of reassigned time for junior faculty, to be used only after receiving tenure.
The PSC bargaining team is considering both proposals carefully and weighing whether to make counterproposals. We are taking into consideration the potential effects of management’s proposals as well as the needs of tenured and untenured faculty, part-time faculty and professional staff. At the same time, the bargaining team continues to call on University management to secure full funding for the teaching load reduction agreed to last year and to preserve the vital current allocations of reassigned time.
PSC Demands for HEOs and Graduate Assistants
The October 26 session focused entirely on improvements for Higher Education Officer (HEO) employees. Previous sessions had featured union demands for higher salaries across the board, equity increases for CLTs and Lecturers, $7K for adjuncts, and other needs. One of the union’s priorities in this round is to improve the new program for a discretionary salary differential of $2,500 for Assistants to HEO, HEO Assistants and HEO Associates who have reached the top step of the salary schedule. The salary differential, along with changes in the reclassification criteria for HEOs, was one of the breakthroughs achieved in the last contract; the bargaining team argued strongly for additional adjustments to ensure that the provision works as it should. Joined by a large group of HEO observers, the bargaining team presented a detailed account of where the provision has worked well and where it has not and argued for the changes needed to ensure fairness and transparency on every campus. We also presented the other union proposals to address the needs of HEOs, who now number more than 5,000 at CUNY.
The November 7 session addressed the PSC’s comprehensive proposal to reconfigure graduate assistantships to align with the new structure of doctoral employee funding implemented by the Grad Center several years ago. A large contingent of graduate employees attended the session as observers. A detailed account of the proposed changes was sent immediately after the session to all graduate employees and central Grad Center faculty; send a message here if you would like to receive it. Graduate employees not only teach a significant number of CUNY classes; they represent the future of the profession. The union bargaining team pressed hard for provisions that would enable them to live in New York and contribute to CUNY while earning their degrees.
Keep the pressure on!
The PSC is a large and diverse union. Years of contract battles have taught us that we achieve the most for each group when we organize together and fight for all. That’s why the bargaining team is asking you to display a poster not just for the contract demands closest to you, but for the demands that matter most to others. And it’s why we need a powerful presence at the Board of Trustees meeting on December 10.
Pressure works. As the CUNY trustees decide what to seek in next year’s budget, this is the moment to keep the pressure on.
Press the Presidents Petitions
PSC chapters are collecting signatures on local petitions urging the presidents of their colleges to publicly support fair adjunct faculty pay of $7000 per course and increased salaries for all CUNY faculty and staff. Just as important, the petitions urge the college presidents to push for a CUNY budget request that includes public funds to support the union’s contract demands. The current collective bargaining agreement is not sufficiently funded by the State. As a result, colleges have been forced to cannibalize academic budgets to help cover the costs. Seven chapters have their petitions posted online. Add your name to the petition for your campus.