By Clarion Staff


MAY 2001

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The results are in from the PSC’s chapter elections for 2001. Half the chapters held elections this year, and three of the twelve races were broadly contested. At College of Staten Island and NYC Tech, incumbents were defeated by New Caucus slates, while at Lehman College the largely incumbent Academics Caucus turned back a New Caucus challenge.

There was also a changeover in the leadership of the Higher Education Officers Chapter, the union’s largest, with the New Caucus winning all positions. Only one of the HEO positions, a delegate slot, was contested.

The results mean that the New Caucus now has a solid majority in the PSC’s Delegate Assembly, a shift in which the HEO Chapter’s 14 delegates were the single biggest factor. In the uncontested elections there were many “fusion” slates, with people who had been on different sides of the 2000 union-wide elections running together.

Ballots were mailed out to members on April 2, and counted on April 24. The races at CSI, Lehman and NYC Tech were tallied at the American Arbitration Association, while the rest were counted by staff at the PSC Central Office.

Vote count at the American Arbitration Association, April 24.  Standing (from left) are candidates Shirley Beheshti, Sharon Swacker and Bob Cermele of NYC Tech; John Mineka of Lehman: and a staff member of AAA.

At CSI, Vasilios Petratos of the New Caucus edged out Mohamed Yousef of the Staten Island Independent Caucus (renamed from “Unity” for this year’s election) by 87-74. “I have had a long run, 31 years as a chapter chair,” said Yousef. “I think that may be a record, so I have absolutely nothing to be sad or bitter about. We have been trailblazers for unions in higher education.” He added, “I’ll be working closely with Vasilios and his group—we’re like a family on Staten Island.”  Petratos thanked everyone who had voted for both sides. “I want to reassure you that we are representing everyone and are closing our ranks in solidarity,” he told chapter members. “Our common ground unites us.”

At NYC Tech, Robert Cermele of the New Caucus defeated John Donoghue of the City University Unity Caucus for chapter chair by a wide margin, 153-43. “We were quite shocked at the results, to tell you the truth,” Donoghue told Clarion. He said that the chapter’s new leadership had “promised an awful lot and now they’re going to have to come through with it.” Cermele said he was “gratified that the great majority of our faculty at NYC Tech shared our vision for a responsive union chapter that will involve the membership and, through democratic means, create an effective, powerful force.” Both sides noted that there had been a much higher turnout than in past elections, with almost double the usual number of votes. “The level of interest in this election was really quite amazing,” said Donoghue.

At Lehman, Helene Silverman ran for chapter chair uncontested, on the newly formed Academics Caucus slate. In the vice chair race, Manfred Philipp of Academics defeated John Mineka of the New Caucus 95-59. “Both slates at Lehman ran on a platform of supporting the PSC’s officers in the current contract negotiations,” said Philipp, despite differences over local issues such as the frequency of chapter meetings. Philipp and Mineka both noted that Lehman has been going through a financial crisis, and Mineka said that this “climate of uncertainty” may have led many faculty to stick with the incumbents. “I think people have appreciated the way we’ve handled it,” said Philipp.

In the HEO chapter, Jean Weisman of the New Caucus was unopposed to become the new chapter chair. “We will work together with other PSC members to win a contract which includes significant salary increases, a promotional series for HEOs, overtime pay and job security,” she said. Outgoing chapter chair Stu Zuckerberg told Clarion, “The people taking over are well experienced—they’ve been contributors to the HEO chapter.” The new and old teams agree on the main issues facing HEOs, Zuckerberg said, “so I think things are going to work out great.”

“These elections demonstrate how democratic processes unite us,” said PSC First Vice President Steve London. “I’m gratified that the union is coming together, and that the members sent a strong message supporting the union’s new direction.”