November 22, 2010
3,000 Against CUNY Budget Cuts
A PSC petition against Mayor Bloomberg’s planned midyear cut in City funding for CUNY community colleges was delivered to the City Council on Nov. 22. Signed by 3,000 faculty, staff and students, the petition was accepted by Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the Council’s Higher Education Committee. Rodriguez said he would argue for CUNY as a priority in discussions with Speaker Christine Quinn and other Council members.
“Our classrooms are already overcrowded,” said Geoff Kurtz, an assistant professor at BMCC who helped deliver the petitions. “The budget cuts the mayor is proposing could lead to more than a 20% increase in class sizes by next year at BMCC.” The mayor’s plan would reduce City support for CUNY community college operations by 5.4%, or $13 million this year and $16.5 million next year.
The CUNY reductions were among a range of cuts to public services that Bloomberg announced Nov. 18, in a plan that was immediately criticized by City Council leaders. “CUNY, libraries, after-school programs, those are services that our middle class utilizes every day,” Quinn said to Gotham Gazette. She vowed that the Council would have a voice in decisions on the midyear reductions, even if Bloomberg structures the package of cuts to avoid a Council vote.
If you haven’t already signed the PSC petition, it’s not too late to add your name. You can sign online here.
Connect to a Good Contract With the Committee of 500
The PSC’s Committee of 500 may soon need to change its name: it’s grown to more than 700 members since the start of the semester. On Tuesday, Nov. 30, at 7:30 p.m., a conference call will connect these activists with each other and with members of the PSC bargaining team, to discuss how to build a strong campaign for a new union contract.
The Committee of 500 is a group of rank-and-file union members who volunteer to take six simple steps to help win a good contract, such as attending one bargaining session as an observer. To participate in the conference call, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, campus, department or program, and title, and whether you are new to the Committee of 500 or have already joined. After you register, you will be sent details about the call.
Bernard Sohmer (1929-2010)
We are sad to report the passing of Bernard Sohmer, former chair of the University Faculty Senate and professor of mathematics at City College, on Nov. 19. A long-time union activist, Sohmer also served as PSC Chapter Chair at CCNY, as a member of the PSC Executive Council and as a trustee of the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund. “Bernie was a principled defender of academic unionism and faculty governance, and an outspoken advocate for public higher education. His passing is a loss for both CUNY and the PSC,” said PSC First Vice President Steve London. “In every position in which he served, Bernie was a leader, and his influence was always strong,” said Irwin Yellowitz, former PSC Treasurer and a colleague of Sohmer’s on the CCNY faculty for many years.
Family members have asked that Sohmer be remembered through contributions to a scholarship established in his name to benefit undergraduates in mathematics at CCNY. Contributions to the Bernard Sohmer Scholarship should be sent to: Rosemary Weiss, Exec. Director of Development, CCNY, 160 Convent Avenue, Shepard Hall 154, NY, NY 10031. (E-mail email@example.com for more information.)
CLTs Tackle Shared Concerns
Twenty-seven College Lab Technicians from 10 CUNY campuses gathered for an all-day retreat on Nov. 13, discussing health and safety issues and how to organize to improve working conditions. “It was a great opportunity for lab technicians to talk about what’s going on at their campuses,” said CLT Chapter Vice Chair Alan Pearlman. If you’re a CLT and would like to find out more about the work of your union chapter, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.