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May 7, 2007

“CUNY at the Council – PSC Day of Action!” this Wednesday

New York City has a record surplus of $3.9 billion, yet City funding for CUNY is down 17% from its 1990 level, and the Mayor’s budget proposal falls $34.8 million short of CUNY’s budget request for this year. That’s unconscionable given how urgently CUNY needs additional funding to serve our students and how vital the University is to the life of the City. Join us this Wednesday at the City Council as we lobby and demand better funding for CUNY. The PSC will hold a press conference at noon on the steps of City Hall with Council Higher Education Chairperson Charles Barron and a dozen other Council Members; students and faculty will speak; and we will turn in the thousands of postcards we’ve gathered asking Speaker Christine Quinn to take action on CUNY’s budget needs. Bring your students and your colleagues!  And if you have one, wear your academic gown.

If you missed it last week, you can still see our TV commercial telling the City “The time in NOW to INVEST in CUNY.” Watch for it on NY1’s “Inside City Hall,” CNN, MSNBC, “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning.”  You can also see it on the website.

PSC Back in Albany Today

PSC members are back in Albany today and tomorrow for the third round of mass lobbying this year. With the state budget settled, our attention turns now to the PSC’s other legislative priorities. Chief among these is the push for pension equity for Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) participants and unemployment insurance for adjuncts. The pension equity bill would mean a 3% increase in pay (because 3% deductions from paychecks would be eliminated) for participants in TIAA-CREF and other ORP plans after 10 years of full-time service at CUNY or SUNY.  The adjunct insurance bill focuses on the right of CUNY and SUNY adjuncts to receive unemployment insurance when they do not get “reasonable assurance” of teaching assignments.  You can send a letter to your state legislators on one or both of these issues with the click of a button on the website; click here now.

Bargaining Update

Union negotiators met again on Friday with management in the latest bargaining session. We continued the presentation of our demands and asked for some clarification about CUNY’s proposals.  The PSC presentation focused on the need for increased access to advancement for professional staff—higher education officers and college laboratory technicians.  Management’s demands for HEOs move in exactly the opposite direction.  Both sets of demands, plus an analysis, are available in the negotiations section of the website. The next negotiations session will be May 25.

You can also sign up to join the “My Five” network on the website. The idea is simple: If we want a good contract, we need to organize, and one of the first steps in getting organized is talking to each other and having a way to communicate critical bargaining news to every PSC member. The My Five organizers will be the heart and soul of that effort, serving as a bridge between the union’s bargaining team and the rest of the membership. Each My Fiver will keep in contact with five colleagues. There will be a training for My Fivers and those considering joining the network on Thursday, May 31, at 5:30 at the union office.

“Campaign of Outrage” Stepping up the Pressure with Finals-Week Protests

Five colleges (Baruch, Bronx CC, Staten Island, Kingsborough and Queensborough) pay teaching adjuncts only two hours during finals week for time they spend proctoring exams rather than the three hours pay rate they receive during the rest of the semester. This is much more than “nickel and diming” cheapness: it’s an insult to our professionalism as teachers. The reality is that teaching is more than standing in front of the classroom and that adjuncts, like other faculty, teach as much in that finals week as in any other (indeed, often more: meeting with students, grading exams and papers and more). This is not just an adjunct issue; this is everybody’s issue. Reversing this unfair practice is an important first step in our campaign for a fair contract. Please sign the petition and make every effort to come to one of the demonstrations during finals week; click here for a schedule as well as to sign the petition.

Chapter Election Results

Full results from the PSC elections are now posted on the website.

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Traveling to Albany to speak to legislators can be difficult for many of us; this Wednesday we have a chance to speak to them in our in our own city.  If you believe, as I do, that it is not acceptable to cut funds for CUNY when the City has the largest surplus in its history, join me on the steps of City Hall to deliver that message. I want to stand with you there. ~Barbara Bowen, President