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November 9, 2009

Have You Sent Your Message to Albany?  Legislature Returns Tomorrow
The legislature needs to hear today from thousands of CUNY faculty, staff and students: No more cuts to CUNY, and no to a lower pension tier that would reduce take-home pay by 3% for future employees.  Send your message now.  Governor Paterson has convened a special session of the legislature for tomorrow, Tuesday, and high on his list of priorities are the cuts to CUNY and SUNY and a pension Tier V.  To work at CUNY is to know that we cannot absorb another cut.  Send your message, ask your colleagues to do the same, and invite students to use our website to join you.  We have seen before that thousands of messages from the PSC can make a difference.  Add your voice to the impact of the PSC-UUP rally last month and the numerous direct meetings PSC members have held locally with legislators.  Contact Amanda Magalhaes in the PSC office, 212-354-1252, to get more involved; this is the time to defend our working lives and our students’ futures.  

TRS Deposits Restored, Bank Fees Will Be Reimbursed
The PSC, along with TRS and the other education unions in the city, applied intense pressure on Friday to resolve a $189 million error involving pension checks for all TRS participants. Monthly pension checks for thousands of retirees in TRS, deposited electronically on 11/ 2, were inadvertently withdrawn from the accounts on 11/6.  The error was caused by the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, which handles all TRS deposits.  According to the Bank of New York Mellon, about 70 percent of deposits were restored by 9:00 am on Saturday, and the remainder were restored by 9:00 Monday morning, 11/9.  The Bank of New York has agreed to reimburse affected retirees for all bank fees that may have been applied as a result of their error.  If you are a TRS participant whose check is deposited electronically, check your balance at the end of the day today to see if any bank fees have already been waived.  If not, call the Bank of New York to arrange for reimbursement of any fees: 1-800-627-8000 or 1-800-242-9100.  If you have any problems or questions, the PSC would be happy to help.

“This is our members’ money,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen. “There is no excuse for a Wall Street bank to allow thousands of people to be denied access to their own funds.  The PSC is calling for an investigation of how the error occurred and a procedure to ensure that it does not happen again.”  

David Harvey to Speak at PSC Forum on Afghanistan
Tomorrow, 11/10 at 7:00 pm, the PSC will host a forum on the Afghanistan war asking, “Escalation? Withdrawal? What Should Labor’s Position Be?” It features CUNY faculty David Harvey and Jawied Nawabi, former UN official Indai Sajor and a panel of respondents. The event will be held in the PSC Union Hall, 61 Broadway, 16th Floor.

RF Workers Continue to Mobilize for a Fair Contract
PSC members at the central office of CUNY’s Research Foundation (RF-CUNY) continue to struggle for a fair contract. PSC and RF-CUNY management have met at the bargaining table seven times since the union members held a one-hour walk out and voted in September to authorize a strike; the parties are finally making a little progress, but RF-CUNY has yet to put a realistic offer on the table. Please email Kian Frederick or call her in the PSC office, 212-354-1252, to find out how you can help in the fight for a fair contract.

National Conference to Create Living-Wage Jobs for All on 11/13-14
The National Jobs for All Coalition, a group of unions and other organizations committed to economic justice and human rights, will hold a national conference on creating living-wage jobs for all on Friday, 11/13 and Saturday, 11/14. The PSC has endorsed the conference and PSC President Barbara Bowen is scheduled to speak. Learn more or register here.

City Elections: Most PSC-Backed Candidates Win Big
Most progressive candidates backed by the PSC were elected in last week’s City elections, including Bill De Blasio as Public Advocate, John Liu as Comptroller and a number of new City Councilmembers who strongly support CUNY and its mission. PSC looks forward to working with these new leaders to make sure that  the City’s budget deficit is not used as an excuse to make further cuts to CUNY’s community colleges where enrollment has increased 9% since Fall 2008.  To get involved with our political/legislative committee, contact Amanda Magalhaes in the PSC office, 212-354-1252.

Full-time and Adjunct Faculty: Fill Out the UFS Survey by 11/25
The University Faculty Senate is conducting an important survey on faculty quality of life at CUNY.  The results could make a difference at the bargaining table next year.  Don’t miss the chance to participate; high levels of participation will increase the survey’s impact. If you were a full-time or adjunct faculty member on April 1, 2009, you should have received a postcard with your user I.D. and password for the UFS Faculty Experience Survey. The survey data is being collected by a non-CUNY entity, Votenet.

If you have lost your postcard, you can call the toll-free Votenet number at 1-866-975-7133. Upon verification, you will receive your user I.D. and password. If you have questions about technical aspects of taking the survey, call Votenet. For other questions about the survey, you can email the UFS office or the principal investigator, PSC Executive Council member Kathleen Barker.

Reappointment Letters Due 12/1
Adjuncts and other part-timers must receive written notice of reappointment (or non-reappointment) for next semester by 12/1. This letter should include your title and your hourly rate. If by 12/1, you have not received a letter, or your letter does not include your title and hourly rate, please call a part-time grievance counselor at the PSC office, 212-354-1252. Class assignments, however, depend on the budget, curriculum, and sufficiency of registration. Once you have received an appointment, you must be told of changes in the conditions which affect your employment as soon as the college knows of them.

As of their second year of service, full-time faculty, CLTs and instructors are also due written notice of reappointment with tenure (or non-reappointment) by 12/1. If you do not receive a letter, or if you receive a letter of non-reappointment, immediately contact a PSC grievance counselor, 212-354-1252. The last day the union can file a grievance challenging a denial of reappointment is 1/14/2010.

H1N1 Flu: Is Your Campus Prepared?
Although New York City appears to have been spared widespread illness so far this fall, the union continues to press the City and CUNY to do more to be ready for this fall’s expected H1N1 epidemic since young people are particularly vulnerable. Bowen’s testimony to the state legislature is available on the PSC website. Have you noticed H1N1 preparations on your campus? Are you still waiting to see some indication of preparedness at your college? The PSC is asking union members to survey the conditions in their buildings and report them directly to the union. Take the survey by clicking here.

Welfare Fund Benefits Survey
The PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund will conduct a random sample survey during November to determine participants’ familiarity with the Welfare Fund benefits program and which plans they and their families are regularly using. The survey will also gather opinions on what benefits are most valuable and where members would most like to see changes. A sampling of all Welfare Fund participants, active and retired, across all job titles, will be invited to answer an online questionnaire or complete a paper version if they do not have internet access. Details are available on the Welfare Fund website, www.psccunywf.org.

Unions Fight for Equality and Justice for LGBT Members and Their Families
The Empire State Pride Agenda will hold a forum on solidarity and LGBT rights. The forum will be Saturday, 11/14 from 2 to 7 pm at CUNY’s Murphy Institute for Labor Studies in midtown Manhattan. Click here for more details. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Sheilah Sable (518-472-3330 ext 303).

Labor Goes to the Movies Shows "Sleep Dealer" on FridayThis Friday, Labor Goes to the Movies screens last year’s “Sleep Dealer,” by director Alex Rivera. The film, which won an award at Sundance, cleverly combines low-tech sci-fi with US immigration anxiety to concoct a perfect solution to the perceived problem of illegal immigration: virtual workers. In Rivera’s dystopia, Mexico’s underground economy supplies implants to workers, enabling them to plug into shop floors in Mexico equipped only with cables, where the lucky laborers can perform their work at sites around the world.

Join the PSC for complimentary wine, cheese and conversation after the film as María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, who directs the Latino Studies program at NYU, leads a post-film discussion.

Labor Goes to the Movies screenings (click here and scroll down for the schedule) are held in the PSC Union Hall, 61 Broadway, 16th Floor. All are welcome.