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September 8, 2008

PSC members ratify contract: 93% vote yes 

The PSC announced on Wednesday that PSC members ratified the proposed new collective bargaining agreement with CUNY. The ballots were counted September 3 by the American Arbitration Association.  The total number of votes counted was 7,245.  There were 6,764 "yes" votes and 480 "no" votes, and one was void. The last contract was ratified in 2006 by a 87% yes vote.

The new 37-month contract expires on October 19, 2010.  Under its terms, PSC members will receive a salary increase of at least 10.5%, in addition to annual step increases of between 3.5% and 4.5% for the thousands of employees entitled to annual salary step increases.  While the total economic package conforms to the constraints imposed on public employee unions by New York City and State, the new contract contains innovative provisions beyond the salary increases; it is also supplemented by two additional agreements that add up to real change.  Among the innovations are salary differentials for certain professional staff who earn advanced academic degrees, a pilot program of individual student mentoring, a fund to support paid parental leave, a program for sharing sick days with colleagues in need, and a limited number of positions in a new title, Clinical Professor. Separate agreements create 100 new full-time faculty positions, to be filled after a selection process from among CUNY’s outstanding part-time faculty, and a major advance for the CUNY Graduate Center—health insurance for doctoral students employed by CUNY.

Information about the new agreement is still on the PSC website. The ratification was covered in Inside Higher Ed and other outlets.

Grievance Counselors Wanted

The PSC is always looking for more members to help enforce our contract – this semester, you can get trained and get started! PSC Director of Contract Administration Debra Bergen will hold grievance counselor training beginning in October. Grievance counselors represent members in formal grievances and assist in resolving workplace issues directly with the college administration. In addition, they participate in campus-based contract enforcement committees. For more information, or to sign up, contact Bill Mulholland via email or at 212-354-1252..

New Textbook Access Act Will Protect Students

Over the summer, New York State lawmakers passed the Textbook Access Act to combat the rising costs of college textbooks. The average first-year student now pays about $1,000 annually for textbooks and supplies.

The new law requires publishers to disclose wholesale book prices “on request” and to sell textbooks and related materials without expensive shrink-wrapped CDROMs, workbooks, and other ancillary materials. Faculty who wish to assign textbooks without the additional materials must request the books be sold unbundled. The law will take effect next year.

NYPIRG, which advocated strongly for the law, is organizing on-campus “Sticker Shock” events and taskforces made up of students and faculty around CUNY to draw attention to the problem of textbook expense.

Remind New Full-Time Colleagues: 30 Days from Appointment to Decide on Pension Plan

Remind your new full-time colleagues! New full-time hires must make a permanent choice about which pension system they select 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.

CUNY Social Forum in October

The CUNY Social Forum will run from October 17 to 19 at City College and the PSC International Committee supports the project and encourages PSC members to participate. The deadline for proposals is Sept. 17th.  More information is available on their website.

Of particular concern are issues relating to CUNY's historic mission to serve the diverse working people of NYC andits status as an urban university dedicated to producing knowledge that contributes to the public good.

Bronx PSC Chapters Support Striking Stella D’Oro Workers

Union workers are on strike at the Stella D’Oro factory in at 236th Street and Broadway in the Bronx, and the PSC chapters at Hostos and Bronx Community College invite you to join them in offering support.  Local 50 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers International is threatened by new owners who seek to reduce salaries.  It strengthens the labor movement for all of us in New York to support labor solidarity.  Call Chris Aikin in the PSC office at 212-354-1252 for more information.

“Thousands of members participated in the contract ratification vote—thank you!  Now we can get down to the business of putting the new provisions into effect.  The complete new salary schedules will be available shortly on the PSC website; we are in the final stages of proofreading the numbers prepared by CUNY management and resolving some details. The union is also actively pressing CUNY to move as quickly as possible on paying faculty and staff their retroactive money and new salary rates.  Both the City and State have to reprogram their computers to calculate our raises, and it normally takes two to three months to receive our money.  We will announce the dates for payment of retroactive money and new salary rates as soon as we get them.  Given the rising costs we are all facing, I think CUNY understands that there is special urgency about getting the increases in place.” – Barbara Bowen, President