Latest News on Contract Negotiations--3/25/19
Dear Members and Colleagues:
We write to update you on important developments in contract negotiations.
On March 14, hours after hundreds of members rallied for a fair contract at the offices of the governor and the mayor, the PSC bargaining team put a comprehensive counter-proposal on the table. We called on CUNY management to accept the proposal and bring negotiations to a close.
The union’s proposal is outlined below. Management’s initial reaction was that the University does not have the money to pay for it. They asked for more time to analyze our proposal and respond. The PSC bargaining team believes that our proposal, though ambitious, is reasonable, and that CUNY, the City and the State must find a way to pay for it. Funding is the primary issue in this round of bargaining.
The most important source of new funds for CUNY is New York State, and the State budget will be decided in a matter of days. Before you read on, please take one minute to send a message to Albany calling for the funds we need to settle this contract. The key to winning our contract demands is getting additional public money into CUNY’s budget.
The union’s March 14 counter-proposal was a response to the proposal made by CUNY management on February 21, their first economic offer after more than a year of bargaining and union pressure. Management’s proposal included zero back-pay for the period since the last contract expired; salary “increases” below the projected rate of inflation, including a 0% increase in the final year; no money for equity increases or other needs; no agreement on non-economic demands; and an increase in the minimum adjunct pay for a three-credit course to only $4,000.
The union acknowledged that for the first time in our bargaining history, management had officially recognized the need for higher adjunct pay. That’s a victory for the union’s campaign. But CUNY management’s proposal funds the adjunct pay increase by reducing the anticipated increases for all other full-time and part-time employees—rather than by adding new money. Management’s proposal only deepens austerity. The union bargaining team responded that the proposal was not acceptable and that we would offer a counter-proposal.
THE UNION’S COUNTER-PROPOSAL
The PSC offered a counter-proposal that calls for increases above inflation for all members of the bargaining unit, makes significant investments in equity increases, offers a way of reaching a $7K minimum per course for adjuncts, and addresses important non-economic issues. It has five main elements; we summarize it below.
Important as the details of the proposal are, the real challenge is to build power behind our demands. We will have to fight hard for the equity increases, the non-economic gains, the annual salary increases and the new proposal to pay adjuncts for their work outside of class as well as their class time. How strong we are at the bargaining table depends on how strong we are on the campuses, in Albany, at City Hall and in the streets.
This contract is fundamentally a struggle for resources to educate our students. That’s why the fight is so hard—and so important.
1. Proposed Across-the-Board Salary Increases:
- December 1, 2017: 2%
- December 1, 2018: 2% compounded
- December 1, 2019: 2.5% compounded
- December 1, 2020: 3% compounded
Increases to be applied to each salary step and salary range, and to every member of the bargaining unit, full-time and part-time, including employees of the EOCs.
By calling for raises effective in 2017 and 2018, the union demanded retroactive pay increases for all. Other statewide contracts for the current period provide increases of only 2% per year. Clearly, much higher increases are needed to restore competitive salaries at CUNY, but the union’s proposal makes a modest start on raising salaries.
2. Proposed Equity Increases
Following a practice the PSC has developed over the last four contracts, the union proposed a series of targeted investments to address salary needs for the lower-paid full-time employees and for other economic improvements. Among the proposed equity increases are: $1,500 on base salary for full-time CLTs and Lecturers; additional funds for professional development grants and PSC-CUNY Awards; graduate employee improvements; an increase in support for Department Chairs; and needs for employees in other titles.
The union also proposed a $100 per capita increase to the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund to maintain and enhance supplemental health benefits such as prescription drugs, optical and dental care. Management had proposed half that amount.
3. Proposed Workload and Pay for Individuals in Teaching Adjunct Titles
This is the newest concept in the proposal. We propose that, starting next fall semester, all employees in teaching adjunct titles be paid at their current teaching adjunct rate for one additional hour for every one teaching contact hour. Doing so would double adjunct pay. It would also give formal recognition of the many, many hours of work outside of class needed to teach a college course. The proposal is an investment in both adjuncts and CUNY students.
For example, an adjunct currently paid the minimum rate, $71.59 per teaching hour, would—under the union’s proposal—be paid an additional $71.59 for every class hour. So for a three-contact-hour class, for which an adjunct is currently paid $71.59 x 3 hours x 15 weeks, or $3,222, an adjunct under the union’s proposal would be paid $71.59 x 6 hours x 15 weeks, or $6,443, plus all negotiated across-the-board increases. The result would bring the minimum pay per three-contact-hour class to above $6,900.
In formal terms, the union proposed that we replace Article 15.2 (b) of the current contract, which provides certain adjuncts with one paid professional hour per week for every two courses, with a provision stipulating that:
- All employees in teaching adjunct titles be paid at their current teaching adjunct rate for one additional hour for every one paid teaching contact hour.
- One of the paid hours per course per week must be used as an office hour and must be formalized in whatever manner other office hours in the adjunct’s department are formalized.
- The additional paid hours outside of class time are to be used on the adjunct’s own schedule and at the adjunct’s own direction for course preparation, evaluation of student work and other tasks necessary to teach the class and contribute to student success. There is no restriction on where the work during these hours may take place.
- Paid hours resulting from this provision shall not be counted toward the maximum adjunct teaching hours in Article 15.2 (a).
- Management’s proposal had included a minor provision for one paid hour per adjunct per semester for various training programs required by the State, on such issues as sexual harassment. The union included this one hour per semester in our proposal.
4. Proposed Non-Economic Gains
The PSC bargaining team emphasized to CUNY management that a contract that is likely to include fairly modest across-the-board salary increases must provide substantial non-economic improvements. Our proposal called for the following:
- Anti-bullying language
- Tuition waivers for children of full-time employees who attend CUNY
- Implementation of NY State Paid Family Leave for all eligible members of the bargaining unit (considered non-economic because it would be paid for by small salary deductions), in addition to the existing Paid Parental Leave
- Restructuring of the Graduate Assistant title and restructuring of the committee in Article 11.2 (b)
- Improvements in the HEO salary differential process
- Adjunct Multi-Year Appointments: change eligibility requirement to 10 out of the last 12 semesters
- Improved tuition waivers for part-time employees, including non-teaching adjuncts and Continuing Education teachers
- Protections of rights in use of educational technology
- Changes in Articles 4 and 5 on practices of dues check-off and employee information
- Improvements in contractual language on letters of appointment for non-teaching adjuncts
- Expansion of contractual protections for instructors in Continuing Ed, CUNY Start and CLIP
- Non-economic protections on late paychecks for adjuncts
- Formation of an exploratory task force on childcare options for employees
5. Proposed Agreements on Management Demands
Management identified a few priorities in this round of bargaining, and the union bargaining team has proposed including several, with some modifications, as part of a final settlement. They are as follows:
- Beginning with incoming full-time faculty whose appointments start in the Fall 2020 semester or later: restructure the timing of junior faculty reassigned time, with adjustments proposed by the union
- Implement pilot program on “stipends” or “project pay,” with modifications proposed by the union, to allow for contractual payment amounts for specific projects, such as design of an online course requested by the college
- Extend Adjunct Multi-Year Appointments pilot program by three (3) years
- Extend certain other successful pilot programs; negotiate other technical changes in language and notification dates.
We know there are a lot of details here, but we are committed to making the bargaining process as transparent as possible. Even so, this summary cannot address every detail of our proposal. As a bargaining team that is representative of the entire membership—and even those who have not joined the union—we have developed a proposal that would improve the professional lives of all of our members, full-time and part-time, faculty and staff. It also addresses the needs of CUNY students for an environment that supports their education.
The PSC counter-proposal seeks to be responsive to members’ desire not to have to wait years for a settlement. It also emphasizes PSC priorities while acknowledging certain constraints, but it does not accept CUNY’s minimalist proposal.
The success of the union’s proposal depends on all of us, together. Take the first step now, if you haven’t already: more than 10,000 messages to Albany legislators have been sent by PSC members calling for money to support our contract. Send your message today—we have only one or two days left to influence the State budget. Thank you.