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February 25, 2008

Big Budget Push in Albany

This is a critical week for the State budget in which legislators are making key decisions about higher education funding. Please “Act Now” to make sure your voice is heard by sending a letter to your State Assembly and Senate representatives. PSC members are traveling to Albany today to lobby the state Legislature for increased funding for CUNY; and PSC President Barbara Bowen is also meeting with Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, chairs of the Assembly and Senate Higher Education Committees and the State’s Commission on Higher Education. These efforts are all part of the union’s “Building the 21 st-Century CUNY” campaign to significantly increase the public funding of CUNY. Last December the Commission on Higher Education acknowledged in its preliminary report what PSC members have known and said for years: that serious, chronic underfunding of CUNY threatens the quality of education we can offer and that renewed investment in CUNY is urgently needed. In addition to those carrying the message in Albany today and tomorrow, we need everyone in the PSC to contact their legislators. Please take a moment to send a letter to your elected representatives right now through the PSC website’s “Act Now” feature. The union’s budget brochure, outlining the crisis and the PSC’s budget priorities for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, is also available on the website. Hard copies of the brochure that you can share with colleagues and bring to meetings are available through the union office; contact Britt Minott. Your PSC VOTE/COPE contributions fund the PSC's efforts to increase CUNY's budget.

Family Leave Survey Launched

PSC members have been organizing and mobilizing to win paid family leave at CUNY. On Valentine’s Day, activists on 13 campuses gathered thousands of signatures on postcards to Chancellor Goldstein from students, faculty and staff in support of the union’s bargaining demand for paid leave. Reports from the Chancellor’s office indicate that he is also receiving many postcards directly. This week, the union is launching a family leave survey to better understand and document how the lack of paid leave affects members and the University. You can take the survey online now. It is part of a new section on the website that explains your rights under current CUNY policy, reports on policies in other universities and offers tools for talking to colleagues about this important issue. If you have not yet signed one of the Valentine’s Day cards to Chancellor Goldstein, you can do that on the website as well.

Contract Campaign Update

PSC negotiators have put salaries at the top of their agenda as they continue to press management for a good economic offer. Informal talks on bargaining issues occur several times a week, but no formal session is scheduled until CUNY is ready to make an offer. The union is continuing to gather stories from members about how the lack of competitive salaries at CUNY has affected them, their departments and their students. These stories are the best witness we have for the urgent need to address salary erosion. We need your story. Click here to tell us your story . Be sure to include your name, title, department and campus—and to indicate whether we may use your name in discussing the information you provide.

The need for salary restoration is also the topic of one of six new brochures that the union has produced on key issues in this round of bargaining. You can read them all on the website. Hard copies are available through the union office; contact Nick Cruz.

Visit the negotiations section of the website regularly for the latest bargaining and contract campaign news, resources like the brochures, and background information .

City Bill Threatens Independent Environmental Monitoring

Intro 650 (Permits for Atmospheric, Biological, Chemical, and Radiological Detectors) is a City Council bill, introduced at the request of the Mayor, that would require police permits for possession and use of environmental air monitoring devices by public health groups, labor unions, environmentalists, community organizations, and university programs. If enacted, it would restrict, and could prevent altogether, independent environmental monitoring. Had this bill been law at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attack, the independent testing done by community-based organizations would have been prohibited and what we know about the contamination of Lower Manhattan would not be public information. For more information on the bill, visit the NYCOSH website. The PSC Environmental Watchdogs urge union members to write to the Mayor and to their City Council Member to voice their opposition to Intro 650; if you don’t know who your City Council Member is, click here to find out.

Nominating Petitions in PSC Elections Due March 3

Half of the PSC chapters are up for election this spring. Nominating petitions in these contests are due next Monday, March 3. For details, a full list of the campuses holding elections and all election rules, visit the website.