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December 17, 2007

PSC Presses for Progress at the Bargaining Table

Negotiating teams for labor and management met last Friday, and will meet again this Friday, December 21. Nearly three months after the expiration of the last contract, CUNY has still not made a financial offer to the union. CUNY negotiators reported that New York State is not yet prepared to give final authorization for an offer. The PSC bargaining team voiced the anger of faculty and staff at not receiving an offer, and expressed the need for an economic package that allows for restoration of CUNY salaries to competitive levels. The session covered a range of topics on which the PSC seeks to reach agreement even before a financial offer is made, including the urgent need for more responsiveness to health and safety issues on campuses. A central focus of the session was the presentation of petitions with more than 700 signatures demanding health insurance for graduate students and eligible part-time faculty. After PSC president Barbara Bowen presented the petitions, she invited Carl Lindskoog, an observer at the session and the chair of the Doctoral Students' Council Adjunct Project, to speak about the importance of obtaining funds from the Legislature for health insurance for CUNY graduate students as a part of this contract. The PSC has demanded CUNY support for legislative action to provide the same insurance coverage for CUNY graduate employees as SUNY graduate employees receive. CUNY is almost alone in the country in not providing health insurance for its doctoral students and graduate employees.

Talks will continue on Friday afternoon. A large group of faculty and staff attended last Friday's session as observers; we urge other members to take advantage of the opportunity to see the bargaining process up close. Your presence sends a strong message to CUNY management that you care about the outcome of these negotiations. Contact Amanda DeJesus Magalhaes if you would like to attend Friday’s session, or future sessions.

Visit the negotiation section of the website for all the latest news and updates on bargaining.

Protest at BMCC against Concessionary Demands

Over 50 people turned out for a silent march across campus at BMCC on Wednesday to protest management demands for concessions in this round of bargaining, specifically the demands to abolish salary steps and to remove department chairs from the union. Members handed out flyers to students that explained how these management efforts to gain more centralized control over the university would be detrimental to students, faculty and staff alike.

There are many ways you can participate in the union’s contract campaign, and your participation is essential if we are to win a good contract. You can sign up online for various activities. You can help the union collect retention data by letting us know about colleagues who have left CUNY because of salaries or workloads. And you can wear a blue union button to highlight one of the issues at stake in the negotiations; the buttons say “CUNY needs a raise,” “CUNY is contingent on us,” “Hands off salary steps,” “Hands off HEOs” and “Hands off Department Chairs.” Get yours today by talking to your chapter chair or contacting Nick Cruz at the union office.

Campaign of Outrage” Finals Week Demonstrations

Five CUNY colleges shortchange their adjuncts by not paying them a full week’s pay during the 15th week of the semester, finals week. They claim that adjuncts don’t teach during that week and pay them only for proctoring exams. The reality is that teaching is much more than standing in front of a class, and finals week is often the busiest teaching week of the whole semester—meeting with students, reading papers, grading exams and more. The difference in the actual pay rate by which the adjuncts are shortchanged comes to about the price of a Christmas tree. Talk about Scrooge-like cheapness! It’s a totally negligible amount of money for the colleges that would make a big difference in the pockets of underpaid adjuncts at a time of year when we all need a little extra for holiday expenses.

Join us at a series of protests this week, finals week, to demand an end to this shameful practice:

  • Monday, Baruch College, 1-2:30pm
  • Tuesday, Bronx Community College, 1-2:30pm
  • Wednesday, College of Staten Island, 1-2:30pm
  • Thursday, Queensborough Commuity College, 11-12:30pm

There will also be a demonstration at the fifth college, Kingsborough Community College, at a date to be announced. For exact locations and background information on the “Campaign of Outrage,” see the PSC website [add link].

Higher Ed Commission Report Due out Today

The much anticipated preliminary report from the New York State Commission on Higher Education is due out today. A link to the report and a copy of the PSC’s statement in response will be on the website later today. More than a dozen PSC leaders and members testified at two recent public hearings held by the commission; you can read President Barbara Bowen’s testimony here on the PSC website .

Holiday Schedule

In observance of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays the PSC office will be closed December 24, 25, 30 and January 1. “This Week in the PSC” will take a two-week break and resume publication on January 7, 2008. The officers and staff of the PSC wish everyone a joyous and restful holiday season.