July 7, 2008
DA Recommends Contract Ratification; Campus Meetings Begin Tomorrow
After almost three hours of discussion last Tuesday, the Delegate Assembly voted 92 to 13 (with seven abstentions) to recommend the proposed 2007-2010 contract settlement for ratification to the full membership. The DA vote followed a unanimous recommendation for ratification from the Executive Council earlier in the evening and came after an extensive question and comment period at the DA. In addition to a record turnout of delegates, the meeting was attended by dozens of other members, including many part-time faculty and graduate employees who came to advocate against the proposed agreement.
Bargaining team members spoke passionately about both what the proposed contract achieves and what it does not, emphasizing the salary gains to the top steps, the importance of securing reasonable increases in the current economic climate, the success in resisting management’s demands, the paid parental leave fund, the new sick leave bank, the end of the ban on use of college email for union communication, and the additional agreement for 100 new full-time lines reserved for adjuncts. Even though the union fought hard, the failure to achieve adjunct job security protections in the proposed contract, beyond the100 conversion lines, and the desire for greater economic and health insurance gains by adjuncts and graduate employees were major points of often heated discussion. Many full-time delegates expressed solidarity with adjuncts and graduate employees and vowed to work even harder to create the conditions that make a more transformative agreement possible in the future.
With the DA vote, the proposed contract now goes to the full membership for a ratification vote. A special issue of Clarion will be published at the end of July, and members will have all of August and until after Labor Day to vote on ratification of the proposed agreement. Exact details of the ratification process will be posted on the website as soon as they are set.
A series of campus meetings to discuss the proposed contract starts tomorrow, with gatherings at John Jay, Hostos, LaGuardia and Brooklyn. PSC members are invited to attend any or all of the meetings, whether they take place on your home campus or not. You may find a campus meeting near your home more convenient than one where you work. More meetings will be scheduled after the AFT convention this week. Bargaining team members will be at each meeting to answer questions and listen to comments. See the website for detailed information on when and where each meeting is.
City Budget Details
While the full impact has yet to be determined, the final budget agreed to by the Mayor and the City Council is disappointing. The lobbying in support of CUNY by PSC activists, students and CUNY administration did, however, achieve substantial restorations from the mayor's proposed cuts. The Council restored $24.4 million to the community college operating budget and provided $10.6 million for student services and programs, including the Black Male Initiative, Veterans Resource Center, the Creative Arts Team and other centers. However, only $ 6.75 million of this amount was set aside for Vallone Scholarships, much less than the $11 million provided in recent years, and the budget included no funds to rebuild BMCC's Fiterman Hall.
AFT Convention This Week
The PSC’s national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers, holds its biennial convention in Chicago this week, and 35 PSC delegates will be among the 3,000 attendees. This year’s convention will include a strong focus on the upcoming presidential election, for which AFT’s Executive Council has recommended endorsement of Senator Barack Obama. Several members of the PSC leadership will speak at convention events, including PSC First Vice President Steve London, who will speak to pension trustees on socially conscious investing; Treasurer Mike Fabricant, who will speak on a panel about member organizing and communications along with PSC Communications Coordinator Dorothee Benz; and President Barbara Bowen, who will speak on the national campaign, developed from a proposal she initiated for the AFT, for legislation addressing the academic staffing crisis. PSC delegates, elected from the entire membership, will advocate for AFT adoption of positions recommended by the PSC. In the past, PSC resolutions have played a major role in changing AFT policy on the war, and enhancing AFT policies on higher education. This year’s resolutions include proposals for legislation on environmental sustainability in schools and colleges; national entitlement to paid family leave; access to unemployment insurance for part-time college and university faculty; support for a national teachers’ campaign against racism and in defense of the “Jena 6”; support for striking teachers in Peru and Puerto Rico; and two resolutions on U.S. foreign policy—one against expansion of war into Iran, and one against the policy of “permanent and preemptive war.” The convention will also feature the election of a new national president for the AFT. Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, is the only declared candidate.
“This Week” Takes Top Honors in Awards Contest
“This Week in the PSC” has won a first-place award in its debut year for general excellence in the on-line publication category of the AFT Communications Awards Contest. Clarion continues to receive honors as well, this year taking top honors for graphic design, second place for best column and best original photo or illustration, and third place for news writing. The union’s series of contract campaign brochures also won an award, second place for “best issues-based organizing materials.” The awards will be presented at the AFT Communications Network conference, which precedes the AFT convention this week.