January 22, 2008
State Executive Budget Out
Governor Eliot Spitzer released his 2008-09 Executive Budget today, and announced a $4.4 billion deficit. The governor reiterated his commitment to new investment in CUNY and SUNY, but the proposed budget includes widespread cuts in State funding. In the coming days, the PSC will be analyzing the budget and developing our strategy for ensuring that the State’s historic announcement of a commitment to higher education is fully supported. The PSC will work vigorously to protect CUNY from cuts. The Executive Budget becomes the starting point for the Legislature’s discussions about a final budget. As our elected representatives debate the State’s priorities this winter, it’s essential that PSC voices be heard in Albany. One important way to make sure they are is to join the NYSUT Higher Education lobby day on February 25-26. You can sign up today by contacting Britt Minott in the PSC office.
Budget Issue in Focus: Maintenance and Repair—and Your Environmental Health and Safety
CUNY has requested $8 billion for building construction, repair and maintenance in the next five years. This is an impressive sum compared to prior years, and for the major projects the request specifically earmarks: 14% of the budget for facilities preservation; 9% for critical maintenance; 6% for energy conservation and 7% for health and safety. That means that if approved, we have a real opportunity to organize to make our workplaces safer and more comfortable to work in.
If you could have a wish list of things that could be done to improve your working environment (i.e. air circulation, temperature controls, cleanliness, bathrooms, elevator/escalator repair, noise reduction, etc.), what would it be? Talk to your co-workers and e-mail a list of your top concerns to the PSC Environmental Watchdogs; please copy your PSC chapter chair. The PSC Environmental Watchdogs, our union’s health and safety committee, are the eyes and ears and noses on our campuses. For more information, or to sign up for one of the Watchdogs’ upcoming workshops (February 5, 13 and 26), visit the website.
Free Speech Fight at LaGuardia Continues
This Wednesday PSC members at LaGuardia Community College will deliver a petition with faculty and staff signatures to LaGuardia President Gail Mellow. The petition calls on Mellow to rescind the decree she issues last fall banning all union communications on the college’s e-mail system. As reported in “This Week in the PSC” in December and in the current issue of Clarion (see page 3), the union filed a federal lawsuit as well as grievance and an improper practices charge with the state Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) in response, and members at LaGuardia are fighting back in a variety of other ways as well.
Research Foundation Workers Push for Contracts
PSC members who work for the CUNY Research Foundation on three campuses are organizing as part of their bargaining efforts for contracts. RF workers at LaGuardia Community College and the Graduate Center met last week, and members at NYC Tech are meeting this week. The Research Foundation employs workers on all CUNY campuses paid for by grants won by faculty, staff and administrators. Even though RF workers work side by side with others in CUNY and CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein is also the chair of the RF Board, the Research Foundation has been ruled by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to be a separate, private entity. That means for RF workers to be represented by the PSC, they have to go through the contentious and anti-union NLRB election process rather than the state Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) process. Workers at four locations have done that. PSC members at the central office have had a contract for decades, but those at LaGuardia, NYC Tech and the Grad Center are still fighting to get a contract. (For more information on the four-year battle to win the union at the Grad Center RF location, see the website.)
"Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” ~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Letter from Birmingham Jail