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August 11, 2008

Contract Ratification Underway

The proposed contract brings salary increases across the board, additional increases in the highest salary steps of all annual full-time and adjunct titles, a fund for paid parental leave, a salary differential of $1,000 or $2,500 for CLTs and Assistants to HEO who have earned Master’s or Ph.D.s in relevant fields, the right to use 3 sick days a year for family care, and more.  It also comes with two additional agreements for major gains—health insurance for doctoral employees, and 100 new Lecturer lines reserved for experienced adjuncts.

The union’s negotiating team, Executive Council and Delegate Assembly strongly recommend that you vote yes.  But don’t rely on our word—study the agreement for yourself and cast an informed vote.  All contract documents are available online.  A ratification vote is a chance for you to have a say in your own conditions of employment; don’t miss the opportunity to read and to vote.  And remember, you now have three ways to cast your ballot—mail, online and phone—allowing anyone who is traveling this summer to cast a vote from out of town.  

Delegates’ Statements Published

Tomorrow, Tuesday, the PSC will publish on the web statements from delegates who voted on whether to recommend the proposed contract for ratification by the membership at the July 1 special meeting.  The Delegate Assembly voted 92 to 13 (with 7 abstentions) to recommend the settlement; several delegates have asked for an opportunity to discuss their vote in a public forum.  Visit the webpage to see to sample the rich and sometimes heated debate about the proposed agreement.  Visit it also to hear a unanimity of purpose about achieving more investment in CUNY in future contracts.

PSC on WBAI

On Thursday, President Barbara Bowen and Treasurer Mike Fabricant appeared on the WBAI program “Education at the Crossroads,” talking about the proposed contract agreement. The show, hosted by PSC member Basir Mchawi, is available for listening on the WBAI website

Albany’s August Budget Fight

As Governor David Paterson advocates budget cuts, others are working for another, more rational approach. The Working Families Party Budget Battle Bulletin has posted a letter from a Nobel Prize winning economist advocating raising taxes on millionaires. “As you consider how to close a $4.6 billion budget gap…” Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote Paterson and Joseph Bruno, “it is economically preferable to raise taxes on those with high incomes than to cut state expenditures.  Governor Paterson’s proposed cuts fall especially heavily on CUNY and SUNY, with $50.6 million called for from CUNY’s general revenues—on top of the $17.7 million in cuts earlier from the approved 2008-2009 State budget.  The PSC maintains that public higher education should be off the table during discussions of cuts, and that further budget cuts to CUNY would harm the quality of education.

PSC leaders and Legislation Committee members are in Albany this week developing strategies to roll back these cuts. Steve London, PSC First VP, said, “these cuts are unnecessary and if left to stand, CUNY would be seriously hurt.”

Deadline for HEOs Submitting Claims for Back Compensatory Time is 8/24

Members in the Higher Education Officer title series who want to claim compensatory time to which they are entitled for authorized time worked in excess of 35 hours per week between July 19, 2007 and June 24, 2008 must submit a claim by August 24, 2008 or else they will forfeit the right for compensatory time for this period. A letter and fact sheet explaining the background and details on how to file a claim was mailed to all HEOs is available on the website. If you have questions after reading this material, please contact a HEO grievance counselor in the PSC office at 212-354-1252 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays.

Jena Six Win New Judge

Soon after the AFT passed a resolution in support of the Jena 6 at its convention last month in Chicago, the remaining five defendants of the Jena 6 received a new judge. On July 31, the first judge, J. P. Mauffrey, Jr. was ordered recused after he called the Jena 6 a “violent bunch” and the court found “an ‘appearance of impropriety.’”  The judge who ordered the recusal has since been named the new judge for the five remaining trials.  The Jena 6 are young African Americans indicted after conflict broke out at their high school in the wake of nooses being hung from a tree on school grounds. Their prosecution was widely criticized for unfair and harsh indictments.

The AFT resolution originated at the PSC. NYSUT passed it at its April convention, and the AFT passed it in July. The resolution calls for a campaign to foster local activism on the issue, and linking this case and other noose-hanging incidents to broader and persistent problems of racism in the US today.

The NAACP has a petition you can sign, protesting Bell’s wrongful conviction and reminding the Louisiana Court that “All citizens should be entitled to equal treatment under the law.”

Hold the Date—Labor Day Parade Saturday, September 6

Plan to join fellow faculty and staff, as well as thousands of other working people, in organized labor’s traditional show of strength on September 6.  This year’s parade assumes special political importance, as it will seek to focus the presidential candidates on labor’s demands.  The parade will call for a new political agenda that includes universal health care, passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, and improved health and education benefits for veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq.  Be part of the PSC contingent—contact Amanda DeJesus Magalhaes at 212-354-1252 or by email.

"Voting on a proposed contract is one of the most important rights of union membership.  Don’t miss the chance to curl up with the proposed contract this summer and read.  Then cast your vote.  Like the union’s leadership bodies, I strongly recommend that you vote yes, so salary increases and other new benefits can begin.  However you vote, though, it’s important that your voice be heard.  Cast your vote—by mail, phone or internet—by September 2." – Barbara Bowen, President