March 21, 2019
To the Proponents of "7K or Strike":
The misrepresentation of the PSC's position on the question of a strike has to stop. "7K or Strike" is not the position of the union.
Some members who have participated in "7K or Strike" events have done so because they want to open up discussion of whether a strike is the right tactic for this moment, or because they believe they are advancing the union's contract campaign, or simply because they want to show their support for adjuncts. All of these positions are valid. But a relatively small group of "7K or Strike" proponents has attempted to confuse colleagues and the media about the union's position. This letter is addressed to them.
As the four principal officers of the union, we call on this group to stop the misrepresentation. At a moment when the union needs the power of unity more than ever before, you are creating confusion and division. You are diminishing our power and creating potential legal risk.
We welcome honest debate about tactics and priorities. What we reject is the dishonest practice by a group that has repeatedly tried to represent the union's position as calling for a strike if management does not agree to raise adjunct pay in this contract to $7K per three-credit course. These members do not speak for the union. Specifically, we call on these members to:
- Stop falsely asserting that various union chapters have "endorsed" the position "7K or Strike." These chapters have held unofficial votes in meetings that did not have quorums on various resolutions that described support for a number of tactics, including the possibility of a strike.
- Stop asserting to the media that you speak for the union or that the union's position is "7K or Strike."
- Stop appropriating or approximating graphic designs created by and for the PSC as a whole and using them to suggest that the union's position is "7K or Strike."
- Stop representing events organized by PSC chapters or the union as a whole as events promoting "7K or Strike."
- Stop claiming that a pledge card you have created to indicate support for a strike is a "union pledge card."
The elected leadership of the union is 100% committed to all the bargaining demands on the table for all members, including raising the minimum adjunct pay for a 3-credit course to $7,000. We ask you to be as serious about winning as we are.
The PSC has been building the power to win our demands-for the whole membership-since before the negotiations for a new contract began more than a year ago. An increase in adjunct pay is a demand for the whole membership. Thousands of PSC members-full-timers as well as part-timers, staff as well as faculty-have demonstrated their support. And now labor leaders across the city have pledged their support for our demand as a demand that is critical for all workers in the city.
Last week, the PSC bargaining team answered CUNY management's unacceptable economic offer with a comprehensive counterproposal that includes raises above inflation for all, makes significant investments in equity increases, addresses important non-economic issues, and offers a way of reaching $7K a course for adjuncts.
The union is on record calling for legislation to repeal the Taylor Law's prohibition of strikes, and we strongly support that position. But as elected officers responsible for the wellbeing of the union and the interests of our members, we understand the scope of the Taylor Law as it currently stands and the mandatory penalties it stipulates.
Strikes are a serious thing, especially under current New York law. We do not underestimate the moral and political power strikes can have, especially as the current wave of teachers' strikes is changing the labor landscape. Strikes are a uniquely powerful tool of organized labor. But they also come with profound risks, and the union's elected leadership takes those risks seriously.
If, at some point in negotiations, the union leadership believes that we need to consider a strike, we will make the decision through our democratically elected leadership bodies-not through subterfuge. And if we were to consider a strike, we would put the proposal before the entire membership honestly.
Transforming adjunct pay may be the hardest thing the PSC has ever tried to do. The union also has other urgent demands. We need everyone pulling together, not some people trying to pull the union apart. Cross-title solidarity goes more than one way. We must all support each other and each other's demands.
We invite every proponent of "7K or Strike" to recognize how much public support the demand has already gained. Stop jeopardizing that support by insulting, confusing and alienating your fellow members. Advocate for your position honestly within the union, not through deceit. Above all, join the PSC's campaign for a contract we can all be proud of. Be part of a strategy to win.
Barbara Bowen, PSC President
Andrea Vásquez, PSC First Vice President
Sharon Persinger, PSC Treasurer
Nivedita Majumdar, PSC Secretary