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March 3, 2008

CUNY Funding: Send  the Message to Albany  

Despite unprecedented attention to the issue of higher education in the State capital this year, Governor Eliot Spitzer’s executive budget proposes cuts in CUNY funding for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. State legislators need to hear from PSC members—they need to hear from you—about the importance of restoring  the budget cuts and making  a down payment on the  investment CUNY needs. This is a critical week in budget deliberations; we need to flood legislators with letters this week.  You can send a letter now through the PSC’s website to your Assembly and Senate representatives urging them to fund CUNY. Last Monday and Tuesday PSC members were in Albany meeting with legislators to deliver that same message. For more information on the budget and an online copy of this year’s budget brochure from the PSC, visit the website. For hard copies of the brochure to share with colleagues or bring to meetings, contact Britt Minott in the union office. Your PSC VOTE/COPE contributions fund the PSC's efforts to increase CUNY's budget.

Community College Faculty Tackle Workload Issues

Fifty full-time faculty members from all six community colleges met on Friday afternoon to map out short- and long-term strategies for addressing workload problems. The event, which is the latest action by the growing group that began meeting last May, was designed as a problem-solving session and consisted primarily of group discussion. “What do we want to achieve and what can we achieve? How are we going to do it, and who is going to do it?” Anne Friedman from BMCC, the PSC’s vice president for community colleges and a key organizer of the event, summarized the approach of the group. The “who” and also the “when” begins this week as members begin planning the next meeting, set for March 12, 5:30-7:30pm. Meanwhile, the PSC bargaining team has identified reducing the contractual teaching load as one of the union’s three major long-term economic priorities, an issue to be tackled at both the senior and the community colleges as soon as progress is made on salaries.  To get involved, or for more information, contact Anne Friedman.

Take the Family Leave Survey

One crucial element in fighting to win paid parental and family leave for PSC members is to document exactly how the current lack of paid leave affects us, our ability to teach, our research and our quality of life. The union is now conducting a survey to do just that; you can help by taking a minute to fill out the survey. The survey is part of a new section on the website with resources and information on family leave policy at CUNY and elsewhere and contract campaign materials on the subject. The union is demanding paid leave in this round of contract negotiations. Members on 13 campuses collected signed Valentine’s Day cards from students, faculty and staff addressed to Chancellor Goldstein. In all, we collected over 3,000 cards, and the chancellor’s office reports receiving many cards directly as well.

Contract Campaign Resources

What we win at the bargaining table depends on the strength of an informed, active membership behind the bargaining team. PSC members talking to other PSC members about the issues at stake in these negotiations is one important way we build that strength. The union has six brochures available to help inform members about those issues and to offer a tool to help start a conversation between colleagues. You can read them all on the website . For hard copies, contact Nick Cruz. The brochures address the need for competitive salaries; the reasons management’s proposal to eliminate the salary steps is a terrible idea; how increasing job security for adjuncts helps everyone; why we need to defeat management’s efforts to erode job security for HEOs; how the lack of paid parental leave is forcing PSC members to choose between having a career and having a family; and what must be done to secure our health benefits.

Meanwhile, the bargaining team continues to pressure management for an economic offer, and we need to hear your stories in order to fight for the best salary increases possible. Testimony from members has poured in to the union office, but there are many parts of the University from which we haven’t heard yet.  We need to document, college by college, department by department, member by member, how the lack of competitive salaries is undermining our ability to offer a quality education to our students. Click here to tell us your story. Be sure to include your name, title, department and campus, and let us know if we may use your name in sharing the information you provide.

Thousands of Teachers Strike in Puerto Rico for Better Working Conditions

Teachers in public schools in Puerto Rico have been on strike since February 21, braving an anti-strike law similar to New York’s Taylor Law to demand an end to horrible physical conditions, low salaries and a plan to privatize public schools.   Government retaliation has been swift and extreme, including the use of police force against the strikers, and the firing and suspension of union activists.   The PSC Delegate Assembly discussed the complex politics involved in the struggle and passed a motion of solidarity with those on strike.  Colleagues on many campuses are informing members about the strike, asking for signatures on a petition calling on the governor to negotiate fairly, and collecting contributions to the strike fund.