September 24, 2007
Union Steps Up Pressure as Contract Expires
The expiration date of our old contract came and went last week—Wednesday—with CUNY management continuing to make it impossible to move towards a settlement. By refusing to make an economic offer thus far in these negotiations, management has effectively said that we should be willing to wait indefinitely for a settlement and a raise. But PSC members are not willing to be passive bystanders in this situation:
Petitions with 5,534 Signatures Delivered to Goldstein
On Wednesday morning, a delegation of several dozen members rallied loudly outside Chancellor Goldstein’s office while President Barbara Bowen hand-delivered the thousands of signatures the union gathered on its petition in support of our bargaining agenda. Afterwards she reported that they could both hear the chanting PSCers on the sidewalk below. Clearly, notice has been served that PSC members are mobilizing to win the contract they deserve.
Our CUNY vs. Their CUNY
On Wednesday evening, our activities marking the expiration of the contract continued with a performance of plays, songs, poems and cartoons that presented in vivid detail two possible futures for CUNY: one under management’s demands and the other under the PSC’s. Over 150 people packed the union hall and broke out in raucous laughter many times during the evening. They also heard a bargaining update from President Bowen and left the hall with postcards for the October 30 mass meeting to hand out to colleagues. You can read all the works performed on the union’s website.
Meanwhile, the union was back at the negotiating table on Friday for the latest formal session. The PSC bargaining team opened the session by asking whether CUNY was ready to make an economic offer, and again received the answer “No.” CUNY management continued to cite their need to consult with the State. PSC representatives discussed why faculty and staff feel that the failure to produce an offer and to provide adequate salaries and working conditions is a sign of disrespect for our work. There was productive discussion of several non-economic issues, including management’s demands on grievance and arbitration procedures, and the union’s demand on “banking” or donating sick leave days to others. Some progress was made in both areas, and plans for future technical and formal meetings were discussed.
Contact Amanda DeJesus Magalhaes at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend a future bargaining session. For a full list of the union’s demands, management’s demands and the latest contract news, visit the negotiations section on the website regularly.
October 30 Mass Meeting
On October 30 in the Great Hall at Cooper Union PSC members will gather to show our strength and discuss the union’s strategy for winning a fair contract in the current political environment. A postcard announcing the meeting was mailed to all members last Thursday—watch for yours in the mail today. Mark the date in your calendar. Speak to your colleagues and urge them to join you at the meeting.
Last Raise of the 2002-2007 Contract
The final salary increase of the 2002-2007 collective bargaining agreement took effect on the last day of the contract, Wednesday, September 19. The details, previously reported in “This Week in the PSC,” are available on the PSC website.
PSC Members Speak Out about Union Solidarity in New Orleans
On Thursday the PSC held a reception for the 18 members who participated this year in the AFT’s Union Summer program. Most volunteered to help rebuild New Orleans while others went to Baton Rouge, St. Louis, Houston and San Antonio. Other PSC members have been to New Orleans on their own or through other organizations. They were all honored on Thursday. Following the reception was an interesting panel discussion about the New Orleans experience, the role of union solidarity in the rebuilding process, the broader context and the union-building work members did in other cities.
Victory for Immigrants’ Rights
The PSC, through its Solidarity Committee, was among the unions that fought for many years for a change in New York State policy on drivers’ licenses for immigrants. On Friday, Governor Eliot Spitzer announced a change in the policy. Under the new rules, the state will issue licenses without regard to immigration status. CUNY has always been the intellectual home of immigrants in this city. Immigrants, and especially working college students, frequently work in jobs that require the operation of motor vehicles. Allowing all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, access to legal drivers’ licenses not only allows the newest generation of immigrants to continue to build this city—it makes the city safer for all of us.
Labor Goes to the Movies Kicks off the Season this Friday
This Friday, the PSC will show Grand Illusion, the first movie of the 2007-2008 season of Labor Goes to the Movies. This1937 classic about World War I is the first of 10 movies about war the union will screen this year. The war theme aims to create a forum to deepen the collective discussion across the labor movement about the current war and strengthen opposition to it. Friday’s screening will be at 6pm in the union hall on the 16th floor at 61 Broadway; free for CUNY student, $2 suggested donation for others.
SAVE THE DATE: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 6PM, COOPER UNION: MASS MEETING FOR A FAIR CONTRACT
"Last week was unlike any other in the PSC’s recent history: we marked the expiration of our contract with a series of events that combined militancy and negotiation, satire and solidarity. I wish you all could have seen how 80th Street looked when its façade was covered with huge placards bearing the names of the 5,534 members who signed the petition, or that you had heard the other PSC members who traveled to New Orleans this summer and worked with the local teachers’ union. We are creating a rich union culture at the PSC, and I am confident that it will support us as we work on amassing the political leverage we need on this contract."
~Barbara Bowen, President