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March 24, 2008

Contract Campaign: Turning Up the Heat

Day after day last week CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein was confronted with PSC demands that he produce an economic offer and allow the contract negotiations to move forward. . On Monday, the union delivered an open letter to the chancellor from President Barbara Bowen that called on Goldstein to advocate as vigorously for salary restoration as he does for his own agenda. The letter was also mailed and e-mailed to PSC members. On Tuesday, PSC members at the Graduate Center led colleagues from across the University in a spirited demonstration that greeted the chancellor as he arrived to speak to Grad Center executive officers. They pressed their case for the need for health insurance for graduate employees and doctoral students; inside the meeting faculty members asked Goldstein directly for a commitment on the issue. On Wednesday, the PSC chapter at Brooklyn College delivered a letter to the chancellor when he came to speak on their campus. The letter draws attention to the college’s recruitment and retention crisis; the threats to collegiality created by CUNY’s demand to eliminate department chairs from the PSC bargaining unit; and its demand to abolish the salary steps; and the need for improved job security and respect for adjuncts, HEOs and CLTs.

In the coming weeks the chancellor will feel the heat even more as PSC members across the campuses plan additional actions to underscore our determination to win the contract we need. . Faculty and staff across the university plan to take action to demand a good contract during the week of April 7 through April 11. Those actions will be effective only if they express the real depth of our need for better salaries and other advances. Call your chapter chair and find out what is planned for your campus and how you can add to its strength. For resources, including a series of six brochures on the most crucial issues at stake in these negotiations, visit the website.

State Budget Process at Critical Juncture

We are less than two weeks away from the April 1 deadline to pass a new state budget. Legislators need to hear from you now! Action by PSC members on the State Budget has gotten more urgent as Governor Patterson announced new cuts of $800 million in New York State's revenue target for fiscal year 2009, and the union stepping up its efforts to restore cuts and make sure further funding is added. Last Monday and Tuesday PSC members met with their Assembly and Senate representatives in Albany to advocate 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. Your PSC VOTE/COPE contributions fund the PSC's efforts to increase CUNY's budget. For more information on the budget, see the website.

Five Years Too Many of War

On Saturday, 300 PSC members and CUNY students joined thousands of other New Yorkers at the “River to River” protest against the Iraq War, in which demonstrators joined hands across the full width of Manhattan on 14 th Street. The action was part of a series of over 1,000 protests that began on March 19 to mark the fifth anniversary of the war. PSC speakers at the rally before the event connected the $720 million spent per day on the Iraq war with the deficit in the state budgets, the withdrawal of funds for CUNY and the pressure to keep public employee contracts at unacceptably low levels. The PSC’s contingent—notable for its diversity of age and race—stretched along an entire block of 14 th Street, linking arms and chanting about the connection between war profiteers and lack of funds for education, housing, healthcare and jobs.

Take the Family Leave Survey

Documenting exactly how the current lack of paid parental or family leave affects us, our ability to teach, our research and our quality of life is a crucial element in our struggle for establish the leave policies we need. Take the union’s online survey to help us make the case, and visit the new family leave section of the website for resources to help fuel the family leave activism on your campus.