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August 25, 2008

Final Week to Vote on Contract Ratification

If you are just returning to the City after a summer away, there is still time to vote on ratification of the contract.  Ballots must be received by 5:00 pm on September 2.  You can vote by phone, through the internet or by traditional mail ballot, but for any voting method you will need to use the confidential PIN number issued to you by the American Arbitration Association. If you can’t find, or didn’t get, the mailing from the AAA and you believe you are eligible to vote, please call the PSC at 212-354-1252 by Thursday, August 28. That is the last day you can have your voting information mailed to you and hopefully receive it by September 2. Note that to vote by phone or on the web you need your unique pin number from the mailing.

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. 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 degrees or PhDs 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. Delegates’ statements about their votes on the contract are also available on the website.

Legislature Cuts CUNY by $51 Million

Many members called their state lawmakers to express their opposition to Governor Paterson’s CUNY cuts, and PSC and NYSUT political action representatives worked long and hard to line up legislators to oppose further cuts to CUNY during last week's Special Legislative Session, including a press release.  "Opposition among legislators to the Governor's proposed $50.6 additional cut to CUNY was strong," said Steve London, PSC First Vice President.  Right up to the last day before the Special Session, there was no agreement on the cuts to CUNY.  "Then," said London, "we heard that CUNY management sent the message to the legislators that CUNY could manage the cuts.  This made further opposition to the cuts difficult."

The new budget cuts will come mainly out of a CUNY reserve fund, but will also impact funding of OTPS (Other Than Personnel Services).  While the Chancellor said that these cuts will not involve layoffs, he has already imposed a hiring freeze for non-student support "administrative" positions, and these new cuts will means less support for the classroom and professional activities of the instructional staff.

Part B Medicare Reimbursement Information

Eligible retirees’ Medicare B reimbursement checks were mailed by the City of New York two weeks ago. If your reimbursement check is for less than you paid to Medicare for Part B coverage, see the directions for requesting full reimbursement in the letter from the City that accompanies the check.

Remember, this benefit was brought to you by your union: The PSC was part of a union coalition that succeeded in winning this annual reimbursement for our members from the City. For more information about signing up, see page 9 of the January 2005 Clarion.

Remind New Colleagues: 30 Days from Appointment to Decide on Pension Plan
Remind your new colleagues! New hires must make a permanent choice about which pension system they prefer to participate in within 30 days of their start date.   If you do not select a pension system, you will be automatically enrolled in the NYC Teachers Retirement System.  The PSC website includes a very useful chart comparing the pension plans, and information about the options is available at college human resources offices and from PSC Director of Pension and Welfare Benefits Clarissa Gilbert Weiss. Call her at the PSC office, (212) 354-1252.

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 by email or at 212-354-1252.

What’s your favorite children’s pro-labor book?

Stuart Chen-Hayes, a member from Lehman, wrote “This Week” to ask if other members had favorite pro-labor children’s books. The PSC is compiling a list. Click here to email in your favorite.

New Associate Director Starts at PSC
PSC’s new Associate Executive Director, Naomi Zauderer, comes to the PSC with a strong labor and policy background as well as administrative experience. For the last five years, she served as executive director of an independent local of professional nurses after time at the National Employment Law Project and the National Writers Union.  She is also ABD in Political Science from University of California at Berkeley, where she was elected president of the association of graduate student employees.

Please note
Next week’s “This Week in the PSC” will be published on Tuesday, September 2.

“Chancellor Goldstein sent the message to State legislators that CUNY could absorb a $51 million budget cut.  That’s one of the reasons the legislators voted for the cut.  While I appreciate that Goldstein’s administration has protected new hires of faculty and student support personnel from the cuts and has maintained its commitment to hiring 100 new Lecturers from among our experienced adjuncts, the union’s position is that not one more dollar should be cut from CUNY.  After two decades of fiscal starvation, it is a myth that CUNY can withstand a cut of that size and not be hurt.”   – Barbara Bowen, President