Movement at the Bargaining Table
At City Hall, and in the halls of the state legislature and CUNY colleges, PSC members are mobilizing for significant action in the fight a fair and just contract, even as progress is seen in bargaining.
“We have finally seen real movement at the bargaining table,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen. “For the first time, CUNY representatives have engaged in meaningful discussion of our major demands on non-economic issues.” These include job advancement for HEOs, and job security for adjuncts.
On May 11, with no economic offer yet made by CUNY, the PSC presented to management an economic proposal for salary increases that would total about 20 percent over six years. These would include a 4 percent increase, retroactive to 2010; an additional 3 percent increase, retroactive to 2011; three 2 percent annual increases, retroactive to 2012, 2013, and 2014; a 2.5 percent increase in 2015, and a 3 percent increase in 2016. Bowen stressed that this is a proposal, not an agreement.
“CUNY management’s response was that the proposal is overly ambitious, but that they would take it under advisement,” Bowen wrote to members, noting that any resulting action at the table will likely be a compromise. Settlements with other public employees in this round of bargaining typically have been considerably lower than the PSC proposal—yet PSC negotiators commented that their proposal was still not enough to make CUNY salaries truly competitive. PSC called on Albany to use some of the surplus funds in this year’s State budget to ensure that long-delayed raises for faculty and professional staff would be at a level in line with salary increases received by state employees. (See page 3, “CUNY increase”)
Bowen emphasized that the current union proposal to CUNY covers only salary increases. “[T]here are other important economic demands, such as relief in the teaching load, that would require substantial additional funding.”
“Just having one less class would have a major [positive] impact on all of the professors,” Natasha Yannacendo, assistant professor at Hostos Community College, told Clarion, and would improve the learning environment, she said, by allowing them greater availability to their students.
On May 12, members arrived on campus wearing T-shirts bearing the message: “Five Years Without a Contract Hurts CUNY Students.” On the back of the shirt is an invitation to “Ask Me Why.”
At Hunter College, some PSC members wore their T-shirts to graduation, handing out flyers to newly-minted graduates. Eliza Tom, who works in the registrar’s office at Baruch College, said her T-shirt facilitated a surprising interaction with a student she didn’t know as they passed each other in a hallway. “‘Everyone needs to know about this so it’s not hidden,’” the student said to Tom. “And she said it was a disgrace.”
In 60-second radio spots carried during the first two weeks of June on six stations in Albany and three major stations in New York City, CUNY alumni spoke of how individual faculty members helped them “reinvent their lives.”
Listen to the ads on the web.