Irwin H. Polishook, President of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, Local 2334, AFT, AFL-CIO for 24 years from 1976 to 2000, died on September 13, 2019 at age 84. Polishook was a scholar of colonial America and taught History at Hunter and Lehman Colleges, CUNY. He was a founding leader of the PSC when it was formed through a merger of the Legislative Conference and the United Federation of College Teachers in 1972, and became president in 1976. He helped negotiate the union’s first contracts, led the PSC through the fiscal crisis of the 1970s and later staunchly resisted structural upheavals at CUNY. He was a leading voice for unions in higher education within the PSC's affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers, and led the AFT's Higher Education Program and Policy Council. Polishook was also a member of the Executive Committee of New York State United Teachers, the Steering Committee of the NYC Municipal Labor Committee and held offices in the American Association of University Professors.
Polishook is survived by his wife Sheila, also a retiree member of PSC, his son Lewis, daughter-in-law Susan Sapiro, and two granddaughters. Donations in his memory may be made to the Belle Zeller Scholarship Trust Fund, which provides an annual graduate scholarship in his name. (Send c/o PSC 61 Broadway NY, NY 10006)
A video biography detailing Polishook’s accomplishments is posted on the CUNY Digital History Archive. It was produced to celebrate his retirement in 2000.