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June 16, 2008

Bargaining Talks Intensify

Talks have intensified in the last week as negotiators from the PSC and CUNY continued to meet almost daily. PSC members, meanwhile, worked to keep the pressure on and to drive home the importance of a crucial set of gains in this round of bargaining. The PSC is seeking to make progress toward more competitive salaries and to introduce other enhancements that would begin to put conditions at CUNY on par with those at other comparable universities.  Meanwhile, the union continues to hold strong against concessionary demands made by management.  As part of the union’s campaign to reform the abusive adjunct system, PSC President  Barbara Bowen delivered over 1,000 petition signatures to CUNY on Friday, calling for job protections for long-serving adjuncts and inclusion of eligible part-timers in the City health plan.

What the union’s bargaining team can achieve at the table depends on the strength of a unified and mobilized membership behind it. If you have not already signed up to be part of the union’s “rapid response” team over the summer – members who are ready to make phone calls at a crucial moment and those on campus able to respond to developments – please do so today on the PSC website.

Declaration of Principles of Immigrant Worker Rights

On Saturday, the PSC was an active part of the launch of a new immigrants’ rights campaign. Last month, the Delegate Assembly voted to sign on to the “Declaration of Principles of Immigrant Worker Rights,” and the roll-out of this document, signed by dozens of labor, faith and community organizations, marked the beginning of a public education campaign to explain how all New Yorkers have a stake in defending and extending immigrants’ rights. The PSC has been an active advocate for immigrants because a significant number of CUNY students (and faculty and staff, too) are immigrants or the children of immigrants.

Theaterworks Free Performance June 23

Ever since the 1912 Lawrence textile strike, when workers sang a now-famous song that said “hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread but give us roses,” the importance of culture to workers’ lives has been recognized and nurtured by working-class organizations. Next Monday, June 23, the Working Theater will present “Theaterworks,” an evening of short plays writtem by members of DC 37. The performance – which is free – is the culmination of a 16-week theater class in which union members learned to develop, write and perform their own short plays. The show is at 7pm at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, East 25th Street in Manhattan, between Lexington and 3rd Avenues; for reservations, call 212-539-5675. The Working Theater is dedicated to bringing plays for, by and to New York’s working people.

The Working Theater is only one of many arts organizations dedicated to nurturing working-class culture. Others include Labor Arts and the Bread and Roses Project. The importance of artistic expression was perhaps best summarized by the poet Audre Lorde when she said “Poetry is Not a Luxury,” the title of a famous 1977 essay.