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In observance of Martin Luther King Day, next week's edition of This Week in the PSC will come out on Tuesday, January 22.

January 14, 2008

State of the State

“Without world-class education, we cannot have a world-class economy,” Governor Eliot Spitzer said in his State of the State speech Wednesday, making higher education, and particularly public higher education, a prominent theme in his address. PSC President Barbara Bowen and First Vice President Steve London were in attendance as the governor called for the creation of a $4 billion endowment for the SUNY and CUNY systems and endorsed the Commission on Higher Education report’s call for 2,000 additional full-time faculty. Significantly, the governor did not embrace the Commission’s call for increased tuition and differential tuition. Both proposals would reduce access to higher education and have received a frosty reception among Albany lawmakers. The governor’s recognition that strengthening CUNY and SUNY is an indispensable part of revitalizing New York State offers an important opportunity for this year’s budget season. The governor called for “tough choices” amidst a projected budget deficit, and as the Legislature debates the 2008-2009 budget the PSC will be in Albany to remind the Legislature that increased funding for CUNY must be one of the choices New York makes. It’s critical that PSC members’ voices be heard in Albany. Sign up today to join the NYSUT higher education lobby day February 25-26 by contacting Britt Minott in the PSC office.

Contract Campaign

From meetings of the Contract Campaign Organizing Committee in the PSC central office to local actions on various campuses and one-on-one conversations in departments all over the university, the union’s contract campaign continues to build. One way PSC members have gotten involved is through organizing efforts directed at  specific demands. Parental leave activists have met several times to discuss next steps following the boost from last fall’s WNBC piece “Choosing between Career and Baby." Graduate employees gathered over 700 signatures on a petition demanding health insurance. And part-time faculty have set up a series of sub-committees; two of them, focused on the union’s demands for adjunct job security and inclusion in the City’s health plan, will meet this week. HEOs, meanwhile, have been organizing since last summer, galvanized in part by the need to beat back management’s demand to weaken HEO job security. To join any of these efforts, contact Nick Cruz at the PSC office.

There is one thing everyone can do right now to help the contract campaign: wear a union button. The buttons highlight some of the crucial issues at stake in the negotiations. They say “CUNY needs a raise,” “CUNY is contingent on us,” “Hands off salary steps,” “Hands off HEOs” and “Hands off Department Chairs.” Get yours today by talking to your chapter chair or contacting Nick Cruz at the union office. Get one for yourself, and take a few extras to give to colleagues. Our visibility matters.

Health and safety workshops coming in February

Nothing at work affects us more immediately than the physical environment.  As New York State begins to focus on the need to address the backlog of maintenance and repair at CUNY, it is the perfect time to become better informed about how you can take action locally.  On February 5, 13 and 26, the PSC Environmental Watchdogs, our union’s health and safety committee, will sponsor a series of workshops that offer training on how to identify and resolve environmental issues at CUNY.  The February 5 session will be about indoor air quality; on February 13, the goal is “know your rights” about occupational safety and health; and the February 26 workshop will look at environmental problem-solving through local health and safety watchdog committees. All sessions, at which dinner will be provided, are in the PSC union hall, 61 Broadway, 16th floor, from 5:30-7:30pm. To sign up, e-mail the Watchdogs or call them at the union office, 212-354-1252; ask for the heath and safety desk. For more information, see the website.

MLK Day Rally in Support of Educational Justice

On Monday, January 21, Martin Luther King Day, the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) is sponsoring a march and rally that the PSC Executive Committee endorsed at its meeting last week. "Why We Can't Wait! Close the Middle Grades Gap Now!” will begin at St. Paul's Chapel (Broadway and Fulton St. in Manhattan) at 11:00am. CEJ, a growing coalition of parents, community and labor, says the achievement gap in reading for Black and Latino middle grade students is growing just as "the road to college begins." CEJ is calling on the NYC Department of Education to provide public schools serving low-income, minority students with college track classes, enhanced ESL and art courses, and additional guidance and mental health counselors, among other crucial needs. Come support our future CUNY students and parents so they can get the education they need to succeed!

 

"Seven years ago, when I first went to Albany as PSC president, the PSC was a voice crying in the wilderness about the depth of public disinvestment in CUNY.  No other organization was telling the whole story of the evisceration of CUNY’s budget and calling for a transformative new investment.  We were laughed at as idealists.  Now, the governor is seeking a transformative re-investment and making higher education the centerpiece of his legislative agenda.  The PSC had many partners in making our case—including CUNY management, NYSUT and several key legislators—and there is still a long way to go, but our intervention was a significant factor in this turnaround.  If you ever considered getting involved in legislative action with the union, this is the year to do it!” ~Barbara Bowen, President