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March 26, 2007

This Week is CUNY Week!

CUNY Week is the PSC’s annual event to focus City government on CUNY and the PSC’s agenda.  The PSC has organized events on campuses, all focusing on funding for CUNY in the New York City budget. City Council Members and aides, including Letitia James, Kendall Stewart, David Yassky,  Hiram Monserrate and Tony Avella, will visit six campuses, to see first-hand the need for increased aid from the City; events and educational outreach are also planned at another half-dozen campuses. On Wednesday, March 28, the PSC will honor City Council Finance Chair David Weprin, for the Finance Committee’s restorations to CUNY’s budget, as well as Prof. David Lavin, author of several books about CUNY’s open admissions policy, and the World Trade Center Community Labor Coalition, which has led the fight for safe demolition and replacement of CUNY’s downtown building, Fiterman Hall. For a full list of CUNY Week events and analysis on the city budget, click here.

Last Call on the State Budget

If you haven’t already done so, please send a letter today to your State Assembly Member and State Senator urging them to add additional, urgently needed funding to the State budget for CUNY. Click here to send your letter now . April 1 is the deadline for completing the budget, and after months of testifying, lobbying, advertising and letter-writing, we want to make sure our influence is felt right down to the last minute. For comprehensive information on the PSC’s budget campaign, visit the website by clicking here.

Would you talk to five colleagues about the importance of winning a strong contract?

If the answer is yes, then you can sign up to join the “My Five” network. The idea is simple: To achieve a good contract in the current political environment, we need to be smart and strategic, but also to mobilize the full political power of a 20,000-person membership. As we found in our successful campaigns on the CUNY budget and contract issues in the past, a first step in getting organized is talking to each other and having a way to communicate critical bargaining news to every PSC member. The My Five organizers will be the heart of that effort, serving as a bridge between the union’s bargaining team and the rest of the membership. Each My Fiver will keep in contact with five colleagues. The union will keep you updated and offer assistance, building from your initial conversations to a deeper connection and an organizing base. Later this spring we’ll offer a formal training for My Five organizers. Click here if you are interested in joining the My Five team.

 FACE the academic staffing crisis

We all know that CUNY has increasingly relied on part-time and contingent faculty while the ranks of full-time faculty have shrunk by 5,000.  CUNY is one of the most extreme examples nationally of a university system built on part-time teaching, but the results of the academic staffing crisis are similar everywhere: low pay and insecurity for part-timers, overwork for the shrinking number of full-timers, a downward pull on wages and work conditions for everyone. Now the American Federation of Teachers, in a campaign originated by PSC President Barbara Bowen, has launched a national campaign—the first of its kind—to address the crisis. On Wednesday, March 28, the AFT will kick off a radio tour promoting a national campaign for legislation on the academic staffing crisis. Called the “Faculty and College Excellence Act” (FACE), the legislation provides equity for adjuncts in pay and benefits and restores the ranks of the full-time faculty.  FACE legislation has already been introduced in 10 states and will shortly be introduced in another five, including New York.

The crises we face at CUNY—in both contract and budget—are about power. Our salaries are lower than they should be because there has not been the political will in New York to ensure that the salaries of people who teach the working class remain competitive.  If we’re going to change that, we need to build our power, and that is done one person at a time.  At first it may feel strange to ‘talk union’ with colleagues, but nothing you can do in the union has more potential to build our political power. I am asking you to fight for your future and for a dream of CUNY many of us share—join the My Five network.” ~Barbara Bowen, President