LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

CLARION

MAY 2001

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PSC Demands Progress in Contract Talks

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Victory at Hostos

Change proposed for Full Time Dues

Letters to the Editor

Results From 2001 Chapter Elections

New Chapter Officers and Delegates

CUNY News Shorts

Women in CUNY: The Numbers Tell the Tale

Taking Action on Health and Safety at City College

Higher Ed News Shorts

PSC Retirees Chapter on the Move for Full Reimbursement for Medical Part B

1300 Rally Outside WBAI, Demand Listener Control

Obituary: Ed Rogowsky

Obituary: Debra Bernhardt

CUNY, The PSC and the Prison- Industrial Complex

Opinion: "At-Pleasure" Pay

Opinion: Notes on "Labor Notes"

DC 37 Settles, Impasse in City Talks with UFT

Ray Markey Talks About the Librarians' Contract

TRS Mess

 

The article on p. 4 of the April 2000 issue concerning part-timers’ union dues was puzzling and possibly misleading. For many adjuncts CUNY is a primary source of income. An adjunct is permitted by contract to teach up to 9 contact hours at one campus and 6 more at another, as well as additional hours in continuing education programs. Many adjuncts I know earn 18 to 24 thousand dollars a year. While this is still within the poverty level in N.Y.C., these adjuncts will now pay $180 to $240 per year in dues. May I ask how much full-timers pay? I am very interested in hearing more about the decision to “explore the possibility of restructuring full timer dues on a similar basis.”

 “...this change will be income neutral for the PSC.” What does that mean? Only 10% of the adjuncts are now dues-paying union members. When the 90% who are not now members begin paying dues or agency fees, how can that be income neutral? I would like to know how the PSC plans to spend this windfall and I urge other adjuncts, union members or not, to follow the money and see how it is spent.

Gregory F. Dunn
LaGuardia Community College

John Hyland, PSC Treasurer, responds:

We apologize for any confusion. Under the flat rate dues structure, annual dues for full-time members are $698.10. Annual dues for part-time members are $139.32. Annual dues for retirees are $81.00.

From the full-time dues the PSC pays $336.20 per person to New York State United Teachers (statewide organization of education and some nurses’ unions) and to the American Federation of Teachers (national organization of education and related unions). From the part-time dues the PSC pays $84.05 per person to NYSUT and AFT. We also pay smaller affiliate dues to the American Association of University Professors and the Municipal Labor Committee. We receive a reimbursement from NYSUT of approximately one-third of our contribution for some services that we carry out for ourselves.

The Executive Council and the Delegate Assembly of the PSC have restructured part-time dues to 1% and are examining a proposal to change full-time dues from the above fixed amount to a percentage rate of 1.05%.

Based on an analysis of state and city data sources, we do not expect a windfall. For example, for part-timers earning $8,405.00 a year, dues or fees will be $84.05 per year, just covering our payments to NYSUT/AFT, leaving no dues for the PSC. For those earning more than $8,405.00, the PSC will receive the differences as dues. For those earning less than $8,405.00, the PSC will be in a deficit position. We have begun discussions with NYSUT to address this dilemma. For a more detailed look at the math that led us to expect an approximately revenue neutral outcome, please come to one of the public hearings (May 16 and May 24; see above). In addition, as part-timers join the union, service costs will increase, for example printing and postage, and perhaps staff.

The union leadership has had three main goals in this process of implementing agency fees for part-timers and revising the dues structure: 1) bring the part-timers into the union for better service and a stronger union; 2) address equity issues raised by members (currently a full-timer earning $32,000.00 a year pays the same $698.00 as a full-timer earning $86,000.00, or 2% of earnings compared to 8/10 of 1%); 3) accomplish goals one and two while maintaining the union in sound financial shape.

It’s always good to follow the money. The best way to do that is as an active member of the union.


I am an employee of CUNY and am currently in the TIAA/CREF retirement system. The issue on the table regarding after- retirement benefits for the next contract negotiation is very important to me and to everyone else in TIAA/CREF.

Many of us currently in this system have years of previous service as College Assistants, years we are not allowed to buy back. This is demoralizing and certainly must affect the loyalty of many CUNY employees who would like to consider retirement, to know that the prior years committed to CUNY mean nothing, and they must remain until they have 15 years on one line as assistants to HEOs.

I would like to see the years of service now required to receive those health benefits for those in the TIAA/CREF system changed from 15 years, as they are now, to 10 years as they are with ALL OTHER city retirement systems, or, at least give us the option of buying back years we have already worked as college assistants.

Especially in this day and age, with medical costs so very high, it would be impossible for me and many other city employees to retire without them.

Carren Strock
Medgar Evers


The NYC Comptroller’s office has falsely reported as 2000 income TRS pension distributions paid in January 2001. Distributions are payable on the last day of the month; whenever that day falls on a weekend or a holiday, payment is made on the first business day of the following month. According to IRS tax code §1.451-2, income is taxable in the year funds are constructively received—whenever the funds are first available to the recipient. December 31, 2000 fell on Sunday; the next day was a holiday; retirees, therefore, did not have constructive receipt until 2001.

Accurate 1099R forms would have benefited retirees. First, tax on January 2001 distributions is not due until April 2002. Second, a correct report could put a taxpayer into a lower tax bracket. Third, it would lower the disallowance for medical and miscellaneous expenses. Finally, if tax rates are cut this year these benefits would apply to the January 2001 payment. Late payment will recur three times in 2001.

We asked Comptroller Alan Hevesi to issue corrected 1099R forms; his office refused. We also asked that the policy be changed to make pension distributions payable on the last business day of the month, a request endorsed by the Retirees Chapter.

The funds remain in the TRS account and continue to earn interest until the moment they are actually paid. This interest rightly belongs to retirees, not to the City. These practices of TRS and the Comptroller’s Office are a disservice to CUNY retirees.

Frederick Goldin
City College and the Graduate School (emeritus)
Dione Goldin


The News Bulletin (April 2001) was very informative. I particularly appreciated the article about the reading tests; it provided context, history, and analysis. I will save this for future reference.

Norah Chase
Kingborough
 


Letters to the editor can be e-mailed to: psc-editor@att.net, They can also be sent by regular mail to: Letters to The Editor, PSC, 25 W. 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036; or faxed to: 212-302-7815. Letters should be no more than 150-200 words in length, and are subject to editing.