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April 2, 2007

Budget Campaign Moves from State to City

State leaders reached a budget agreement in Albany late last week and passed a budget yesterday, April 1. The higher education portion of the final budget reflects six years of aggressive campaigning by the PSC to shift the budget from annual decreases to at least modest increases. It funds mandatory costs and some increases for CUNY, but falls short of the investment in CUNY the union advocated to reverse the effects of years of austerity. We will report on details as they become available.   

Thank you to the hundreds of PSC members who lobbied, testified, and sent letters as part of this year’s State budget campaign.

Our focus shifts now to the City budget. Last week, thousands of students, faculty and staff signed postcards to the City Council calling for increased funding as part of the PSC’s annual CUNY Week. Events were held on a dozen campuses, including visits from City Council Members and aides, educational outreach and more. Union activists will continue to gather postcards, which will be delivered to the City Council on May 2 when PSC members are at City Hall to lobby. Contact Sabrine Hammad at the union office at 212-354-1252 or shammad@pscmail.org to sign up to lobby or to get more postcards for your campus.

Bargaining Resumes Today

The PSC bargaining team began its fourth session of contract talks with CUNY management today at noon. At this meeting, expected to last most of the day, union negotiators will continue the presentation of salary and healthcare demands. For the latest on bargaining, a full list of the union’s demands and more, visit the PSC website’s contract page. If you would like to observe a future negotiation session, please send an e-mail to Chesire Frager at the union office at cfrager@pscmail.org.  

New Professional Development Fund for Adjuncts

On Friday, the PSC mailed information and applications for Adjunct Professional Development Grants to all adjuncts. The grants, through the PSC/CUNY Professional Development Fund, were an initiative won in the last contract—the first time in CUNY’s history that such funding has been offered to adjuncts. Grants of up to $3,000 are available for research, courses, conferences and other activities to eligible adjuncts (adjunct faculty teaching six or more hours in the semester and continuing education teachers teaching a minimum of 20 hours per week). Watch for the application and full guidelines in the mail, or download them from the PSC website.

Sign up for Contract Enforcement Workshops by this Thursday

The union is offering two sets of workshops on contract enforcement. One is a basic contract orientation with an overview of contractual rights and benefits (April 26, May 3 and 10) and the other will provide training in grievance handling, arbitral precedents and relevant laws to those actively involved in contract enforcement (April 11, 18 and 25, May 2, 9, 16 and 23). Register for both workshops by April 6 (this Thursday) by calling Cynthia Campos at the union office, 212-354-1252, or e-mailing her at ccampos@pscmail.org. Click here for more information.

Chapter election ballots mailed today

Elections for chapter leadership are being held this month for about half of the PSC’s chapters. Chapter executive committees and representatives to the Delegate Assembly, the PSC’s governing body, will be chosen by direct election by the membership of each chapter in a mail ballot. Ballots are being mailed today, and are due back by April 26. Ballots in contested elections will be counted by the American Arbitration Association; ballots in uncontested elections will be tallied by the PSC Elections Committee. Check the website’s election page for a list of chapters holding elections and a copy of election rules. If you do not receive your ballot by April 9, please contact Barbara Gabriel at the PSC office at 212-354-1252.

Join the My Five Network!

The idea is simple: If we want a good contract, we need to organize, and one of the first steps in getting organized is talking to each other and having a way to communicate critical bargaining news to every PSC member.  The My Fivers help make that happen by each keeping in contact with five colleagues. Sign up today on the website, or talk to your chapter chair.

I’ve just come back from speaking in Oregon at the national launch of the Faculty and College Excellence Act (FACE), legislation designed to address the staffing crisis in higher education.  With bills already introduced in 10 states—and soon to be introduced in New York—it’s clear that the loss of full-time faculty and exploitation of part-time faculty are a national problem that must be addressed nationally.  The PSC is playing a major leadership role to turn the legislative campaign into a movement with the ability to reclaim the university. ~Barbara Bowen, President