April 7, 2008
This Week is “Contract Week”
“CUNY Needs a Raise!” say the picket signs that were out today at LaGuardia Community College and will be seen across CUNY campuses all week. PSC members at a dozen colleges are planning actions this week to protest management’s failure to put an economic offer on the table at bargaining. They are drawing attention to the lack of competitive compensation—salaries that are 20% or 30% below those at comparable public universities like Rutgers or the University of Connecticut—and to the other major advances the union seeks in this contract. Faculty and staff across the University are demanding that CUNY address the growing crisis of recruitment and retention, along with such needs as decent job security and health insurance for part-timers and graduate employees. In addition to today’s informational picketing at LaGuardia, the following actions are planned—please join your colleagues!
Tuesday: Picketing at John Jay, all day, in front of Y Building; picketing at the College of Staten Island, by the student center; silent march at NYC Tech, assemble 12:30 in the elevator lobby, 11th floor, Namm Building, 300 Jay Street.
Wednesday: Picketing at John Jay, at several times, in front of Y Building; picketing at Hunter, noon; picketing at Queens, noon; picketing at Hostos, noon, between Buildings B and C; picketing at Queensborough, 1 to 3pm, outside of faculty meeting; tabling at BMCC, 11am to 6pm, second floor lobby, and picketing, noon, outside the main entrance.
Thursday: Picketing at Baruch, noon, in front of the Vertical Campus; picketing at LaGuardia, 12 to 2pm, entrance of E Building.
For further details, contact your chapter chair.
Pension Relief Changes Set in This Month
Changes resulting from the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) pension relief legislation passed and signed last year by the State government are beginning to take effect. The first reductions in member contributions kick in this month. Eligible ORP members at community colleges should have seen the change in their April 4 paycheck, and those at senior colleges should see it in the April 10 paycheck. The PSC worked for seven years for this legislative victory, which will ultimately give eligible ORP members an effective increase of up to 3% in their take-home pay after 10 years of CUNY service.
State Budget Update
Despite the passing of the deadline on April 1, legislative and executive leaders in Albany have still not finalized a state budget. PSC members have made calls to the governor’s office (518-474-8390) and sent e-mails and faxes to their legislative representatives, and higher education funding is one of the items still not settled, in part because of the massive push back against further cuts. The PSC’s position is that the Legislature must hold firm on the restorations it has made and that public higher education—like K-12—must be held harmless from further cuts. Keep those calls and faxes coming!
City Budget Campaign Underway
Mayor Bloomberg has proposed $65 million in cuts to CUNY’s budget. These are some of the most severe cuts we have faced. We must act now to make sure those cuts are restored by the City Council and new funds added to meet critical needs at every CUNY campus. Budget cuts would mean increased class size, course cancellations, reduced library hours and deteriorating facilities. We need every CUNY student, parent, faculty, staff and community supporter to contact their City Council Member, the Council Speaker and the Mayor to make sure they understand: CUNY can’t afford budget cuts, and New Yorkers can’t afford to lose CUNY. We need your help to make this happen. The PSC is asking every member to fill out and sign a “CUNY Rising” postcard to the City Council, and then to gather filled-out postcards from others. Contact your chapter chair for postcards. In addition, we are urging all members to go to the PSC website to send letters to the Mayor, the Speaker and their Council Member.
Click here for more information about what’s at stake, the cuts being proposed, and resources to help gather postcards.
NYSUT Representative Assembly Meets This Week
The PSC is fielding a team of 50 delegates to the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Representative Assembly (RA), being held April 10-12 here in New York City. The RA is the policy-making body of NYSUT, our state-wide parent union. The PSC has been instrumental in setting NYSUT’s higher education agenda and plays an active, leadership role in the RA. This year PSC proposals, to be voted on by the body, include federal legislation providing paid family leave (the U.S. is one of only 5 countries not to provide such leave); a cost-of-living increase for Optional Retirement Plan participants; a national teachers’ campaign against the display of nooses and in support of the “Jena 6”; and opposition to the U.S. policy of “pre-emptive war.”
“The CUNY campuses will be bristling with picket signs this week, all with the message ‘CUNY Needs a Raise.’ The informational pickets will send a strong message to CUNY management about the looming crisis of recruitment and retention if CUNY salaries are not addressed. Our message will be stronger if you participate—join your colleagues.” --Barbara Bowen, President