May 27, 2008
Bargaining and Contract Campaign Update
Informal talks between the PSC negotiating team and CUNY management have continued almost daily since the last full bargaining session on May 12 (see last week’s report in “This Week in the PSC”). The next formal session has been scheduled for this Thursday, May 29. Responses from members to CUNY’s economic offer have poured in to the union office, with almost everyone speaking up for the urgency of making real salary gains in this round of bargaining. Both at the bargaining table and in the informal sessions, the union negotiating team continues to focus on the need for an improved economic offer, while being aware of the difficulty caused by CUNY’s long delay in making any offer at all. We have also used the informal meetings as an opportunity to resolve some of the outstanding issues raised by both union and management, and to move closer to a settlement. The main issue remains the size of the economic package, and the union is concentrating on ways to expand it.
It’s summer on the academic calendar, which means some PSC members won’t be on campus. But it’s crucial that all of us stay updated and involved in the contract campaign. The union is putting together a “rapid response” plan that will enable members to organize and coordinate responses to developments at the bargaining table. You can sign up to be part of a phone campaign so we can have hundreds of people make cell phone calls or send faxes in response to developments, regardless of where you are. The union is also asking members who are on campus this summer to sign up for local activities, particularly to help mount quick creative responses as things unfold. You can join either the phone campaign or the one-the-ground response team on the website or by contacting Organizing Director Chris Aikin.
For the latest news and development, resources and background information on the issues at stake in this round of bargaining, make sure to visit the negotiations section of the PSC website regularly.
Research Foundation Workers Press for a Contract
This morning workers at the Research Foundation of the City University of New York (RF-CUNY) picketed outside the RF-CUNY Board of Directors meeting stepping up the pressure on RF-CUNY management to settle contracts. RF-CUNY workers at LaGuardia are entering their fifth year of bargaining and RF-CUNY workers at NYC Tech have worked for more than three years without a contract. Both are seeking first contracts with RF-CUNY. Some of the workers have not received raises in almost nine years. They have no seniority rights and no fair system for use of earned vacation time. RF-CUNY employs thousands of workers on 23 CUNY campuses in grants headed by CUNY faculty and staff. Though CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein is also the chair of the RF board, the RF has been ruled by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to be a separate, private entity. In addition to the RF employees at LaGuardia and NYC Tech, the PSC also represents RF workers at the CUNY Graduate Center, where workers had to fight for over four years to assert their right to get their votes counted, in favor of representation.
Take Action for Adjuncts
Part-time faculty teach over half the courses at CUNY and are almost 9,000 strong. CUNY balances its budget on the backs of adjuncts, but they are treated little better than day laborers. Most egregiously, part-timers have virtually no job security. This is not only profoundly unfair to adjuncts. It also hurts students; it is detrimental to the quality of education the University can offer. Moreover, insecurity and substandard work conditions for part-time faculty threaten all faculty and staff. None of us can count on academic freedom when half of us teach without it.
The union is addressing the job security issue for adjuncts on multiple fronts, and has made the achievement of improved job security for experienced adjuncts a priority in this round of bargaining. There are two ways you can support these efforts right now: First, sign the contract campaign petition calling for job security for part-time faculty and for health benefit coverage under the City’s healthcare plan. Second, send a letter to your State representatives in support of unemployment insurance reform. Many adjuncts are now denied UI coverage when they are out of work because the current legal criteria excludes them. Legislation (A 2515 / S 4845) initiated by the PSC would fix this.
Israel Kugler Memorial June 11
The PSC will hold a memorial service for Israel Kugler at the CUNY Graduate Center on June 11 at 1:30pm. Kugler, one of the founders of the PSC along with Belle Zeller, was a lifelong champion of academic freedom, collective bargaining and democracy in the workplace. For more than two decades, Kugler led the United Federation of College Teachers (UFCT) and its predecessor unions. In 1972, the UFCT and Legislative Conference merged, forming the PSC with Kugler as its first Deputy President. Even in retirement, Kugler remained active, attending rallies, chanting on PSC picket lines, regularly writing letters to Clarion and, with generosity and wisdom, providing counsel to the union. All are invited to the memorial; contact Linda Slifkin at the union office for more information.