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March 17, 2008

Open Letter to Goldstein

As we reach the six-month mark since the expiration of our contract without an economic offer from CUNY, PSC President Barbara Bowen has written an open letter to CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein demanding a financial offer large enough to begin restoration of CUNY salaries.  The letter was delivered to Goldstein today and is available on the PSC website. Copies are also being mailed to PSC members. In the letter, Bowen asserts that “CUNY’s salaries have reached the point of crisis.”  Voicing the needs of the membership, she writes that steps must be taken in this contract to address the salary crisis.  While acknowledging that CUNY must gain approval from the City and State for its financial settlement with the PSC, Bowen writes that CUNY's economic offer ultimately represents CUNY's priorities. The letter asks:  "Is restoration of our salaries a priority or not?"  Bowen calls on Goldstein to advocate as vigorously for our salary needs as he has for his own agenda for CUNY. “You cannot build a first-rate university by paying third-rate salaries.”  Bowen pledges to work with Goldstein, as she has in the past, to build that university through the contract, and says the process cannot advance without a financial offer to the union.

Budget Advocacy Continues in Albany and City Hall

Today, as Governor David Paterson is sworn in and Albany returns its attention to governing the state, PSC members are traveling to the capital to press legislators on the union’s budget and legislative priorities. As part of the NYSUT “Committee of 100,” they will meet with their Assembly and Senate representatives to advocate first for the restoration of budget cuts to CUNY in this year’s proposed executive budget, and for increases to allow the hiring of 500 new full-time faculty. It is critical that legislators hear from as many PSC members as possible; you can send a letter to your representatives now through the PSC website. Paterson, a New York City native and longtime supporter of CUNY, already knows the PSC, and the change in governors will not mean a change in the union’s agenda or in our determination to fight for CUNY’s needs.

Meanwhile, PSC members and officers testified on Friday at a City Council hearing about the need to restore $54 million in cuts in the Mayor’s preliminary budget.

For budget news, documents and more, visit the budget section on the website.

River to River, Demonstrate for Peace 3/22

The war in Iraq is now entering its sixth year, and its disastrous economic, political and human consequences continue to escalate.  Thousands of New Yorkers will join hands across 14th Street this Saturday, March 22, to demand an end to the war.  Among the demonstrators will be hundreds of teachers and professors, including contingents from the PSC and the New York City teachers' union, the UFT.  The PSC has been a leading voice, now joined by millions of other union members, on the need for a complete withdrawal of troops and a reordering of national political and economic priorities. Join colleagues from across the PSC in a spirited contingent.  We assemble at 14th Street and Third Avenue at noon behind the PSC banner and carrying signs, "Money for Education, Not for War."  Students, family and friends are welcome to join us. For more information and a flyer you can share with colleagues, visit the website.

Fighting for Family Leave: What You Can Do

As “This Week in the PSC” readers know, CUNY does not provide a single day of paid parental or family leave, and PSC members are working to change this through a demand for paid leave and activism across the campuses to back up that demand. Contract talks about the issue have focused on how to add the provision as a new benefit, one that works in an academic setting.  Here are two things you can do right now to help the fight for family leave. First, take the union’s family leave survey. Documenting exactly how the current lack of paid leave affects us, our ability to teach, our research and our quality of life is a crucial element in our struggle to establish the leave policies we need. The survey is online and all you need to do is click here to take it . Second, read the union’s contract campaign brochure on the need for paid parental leave and talk to your colleagues about the issue. The brochure is on the website and you can get hard copies to share with other PSC members from your chapter chair or by contacting Nick Cruz in the union office.

Rally for City Schools Wednesday

The PSC urges its members to turn out on Wednesday, March 19 at 4pm, in support of New York City’s public schools, at a demonstration at City Hall. Led by the “Keep the Promises Coalition” comprised of community, education, parent and labor organizations and 50 elected officials, this event is part of the critical effort to restore City budget cuts to the schools and hold the State to its commitment to adequately fund City schools. Click here for more information.

Academic Freedom Conference April 3-4

The New York University Frederic Ewen Academic Freedom Center is sponsoring a conference titled “Academic Freedom in the Age of Permanent Warfare.” The conference examines the perilous state of academic freedom in the post-9/11 world from a myriad of angles and promises to be of interest to all concerned about need to protect and nurture rigorous intellectual pursuit by students and scholars alike. Ellen Schrecker delivers the keynote speech on Thursday evening, and Friday’s forum on “Labor and the Corporate University” includes David Montgomery, Shelia Slaughter, Jennifer Washburn and PSC President Barbara Bowen.  For more information, visit the Ewen Center’s website.

"Today we join people across the state in wishing great success to our new governor, David Paterson.  Governor Paterson is a long-standing friend of CUNY; he understands both what CUNY means and what it needs. The PSC leadership is hopeful that Governor Paterson will work with the Legislature to conclude a budget that includes full restoration of the proposed cuts to CUNY, as well as the additional funds needed this year and to create a permanent funding source for public higher education." – Barbara Bowen, President