News & Events

Legislators Reintroduce Albany’s Anti-academic Freedom Bill

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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has introduced an amended version of a controversial bill that would outlaw the use of State funds to support any employee participation in groups conducting a boycott "in certain countries." The version of the bill that was pulled from consideration last week after a groundswell of pressure from faculty unions and civil libertarians would have denied all public funding to New York colleges and universities for even reimbursing part of a faculty members’ travel to a conference hosted by an organization that endorses such a boycott. The new bill (Assembly Bill 8392a) )does not threaten to eliminate State funding for colleges and universities, but it does prohibit the use of State funds to support employee participation in groups conducting such a boycott.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has promised to litigate if the bill was reintroduced, and faculty groups are again mobilizing to oppose it.

PSC’s work to improve working conditions and job security for CUNY adjuncts received prominent coverage this week in the New York Times and In the NY Times, see “Crowded Out of Ivory Tower, Adjuncts See a Life Less Lofty” by Rachel Swarns, author of a column called The Working Life. On, see “Class divide on campus: adjunct professors fight for better pay, benefits” by Nona Willis Aronowitz.

At the urging of PSC, United University Professions, and SUNY community college union leaders, our statewide affiliate, NYSUT, has launched a sustained campaign demanding an end to chronic underfunding of CUNY and SUNY, and a proactive plan for reinvigorating the state's public colleges and universities. The legislative campaign, "Keep New York A State of Mind," calls for increased state funding for both senior and community colleges of CUNY and SUNY, along with additional state investment to strengthen and expand student financial aid and opportunity programs. It also includes an innovative demand for the creation of an endowment to fund new full-time faculty and professional staff lines at CUNY and SUNY. The legislative platform is called the “Public Higher Education Quality Initiative.” The platform and campaign were developed by higher education union leaders over the past several months. A communications effort to support the campaign started last week with a media release and print advertisements. A social media campaign is also in the works.

PSC hosted the Sixth National Gathering of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE) over the Dr. Martin Luther King Day weekend. CFHE is a national grassroots campaign to support quality higher education comprised of faculty organizations from 21 states, including the PSC and our sister union at SUNY, United University Professions. The theme for the Sixth National Gathering was “Building Effective Campaigns to Defend and Promote Higher Education.” It was a working conference with sessions about campaign building, case studies of effective campaigns waged by university faculty and staff, and workshops on speaking to the media.

Last week the CUNY Board of Trustees voted to appoint James B. Milliken, president of the University of Nebraska system, as the next Chancellor of CUNY. (Read CUNY’s announcement.) When the announcement was imminent and the chancellor’s name had not yet been made public, Barbara Bowen, president of the PSC, released this statement welcoming the new chancellor and pledging to work with him to “address the urgent needs of CUNY faculty, staff and students.”

In her statement, President Bowen called on the new chancellor to respect the faculty's knowledge and experience, and develop an adequate response to the faculty’s denunciation of Pathways. She also said the union looks forward to working with him to press for increased public funding for CUNY and to negotiate a new contract.

New York—An announcement of the next CUNY chancellor is imminent. Dr. Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, the union representing 25,000 CUNY faculty and staff, made the following statement, noting that the union was not part of the selection process and that the names of finalists were not made public:

Workers at the Central Office of the CUNY Research Foundation (RF) received their full retroactive pay on Wednesday, January 8. It was a major accomplishment. The union fought long and hard for it, and management did not agree to it until the very end of the negotiations.To demonstrate that this was won through collective action and to show that the new dress code will not prevent future displays of union solidarity, RF central office workers wore new union polo shirts the day they received their retro pay.

The Professional Staff Congress/CUNY congratulates Melissa Mark-Viverito on gaining the trust and support of her colleagues for the position of Council Speaker. As the union representing faculty and staff at CUNY, the PSC embraces the progressive agenda Melissa has represented in the Council. A founder and co-chair of the City Council's Progressive Caucus, Melissa has championed social and economic justice legislation, especially for immigrant and working-class New Yorkers.

As Speaker, Melissa will be an independent, necessary voice. She will be a leader in advancing a new, progressive direction for New York. We look forward to working with her, and the entire Council, on the urgent project of addressing inequality in New York City. CUNY is an essential part of that project, and we are proud to support a Speaker who will focus on reducing poverty and expanding opportunity.

The deadline for enrollment in CUNY's new Catastrophic Sick Leave Bank Program ("CSLB") for eligible full-time University employees has been extended to January 31, 2014.

The CSLB is a pool of sick leave and annual leave, voluntarily donated by individuals employed full-time on an annual salary basis, for potential use as sick leave by employees who are also donors to the bank.