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April 30, 2007

PSC on TV!  
Union Gears Up for May 9
Budget Action

The press is on to mobilize PSC members for the “CUNY at the Council – PSC Day of Action!” events at City Hall on May 9. This is the week to talk to your colleagues and students about the importance of signing a postcard to Speaker Christine Quinn in support of increased CUNY funds.  For postcards, contact Sabrine Hammad at the union office at 212-354-1252 or shammad@pscmail.org. And be sure to come to the press conference at noon with Higher Education Committee Chair Charles Baron and other Council Members—and bring your students and colleagues, too! All week we’ll be running a TV commercial telling the City “the time is NOW to INVEST in CUNY”; see it here and watch for it on NY1’s “Inside City Hall,” CNN, MSNBC, “The Today Show” and “Good Day New York.”

Union Calls for More Faculty Counselors, Responding to Virginia Tech Tragedy

The PSC has taken the lead in calling on the City to provide a meaningful response to the needs among college students highlighted by the mass murder at Virginia Tech.  We have begun discussions with CUNY management and City officials on a proposal that would more than double the number of psychological counseling faculty at the community colleges.  The longstanding need for more counselors—made newly urgent by Virginia Tech—will be a focus of the May 9 press conference.  

PSC Election Results

Unofficial election results for chapter elections have been tallied, pending certification by the PSC Elections Committee, which will meet this Friday, May 4. In the three contested elections, incumbent chairs and caucuses won re-election. Congratulations to Jane Young (New Caucus, BMCC), Rina Yarmish (Your Faculty Slate, Kingsborough) and Jean Weisman (New Caucus, HEOs) as well as all the other officers and delegates in those chapters and those who ran unopposed in other chapters. Watch the website for full election results once they have been certified.

Librarians Win Important Arbitration Victory   

 The PSC won a significant victory for Library faculty on professional reassignments for research. Library faculty, who do not have the same annual leave as other faculty, are entitled to request paid leave of up to five weeks for research and scholarly writing.  The contract specifies that these professional leaves are subject to approval by departmental and college-wide P&B Committees. When the President’s office at BMCC decided to deny re-assigned time to a particular librarian, the union filed a grievance, pointing out that the administration was overstepping its contractual role and inserting itself in a faculty governance decision. The arbitrator agreed, citing the clear and unambiguous contract language in Article 25.4 (click here for a copy of the contact). For more on this story , click here.

NYSUT Representative Assembly

Forty-three PSC members attended the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Representative Assembly (RA) as delegates April 26-28 in Washington, DC. The RA is the policy-making body of NYSUT, our state-wide affiliate.  The PSC has been instrumental in setting NYSUT’s higher education agenda and plays an active, leadership role at the RA. Policy initiatives successfully advanced by the PSC at this RA included addressing hostile work environments, calling on Congress to restore the right of habeas corpus, and urging TIAA-CREF to consider labor issues in screening companies for investment.  PSC delegates also pushed the statewide organization to take an unequivocal stand against any reduction in pension and post-retirement healthcare, and against continued funding of the war in Iraq. With the support of the PSC, NYSUT has dedicated itself this year to addressing the “achievement gap” created by differences in class, race and school funding.   

PSC chapter leader Prof. Jane Young was honored as higher education member of the year; see a short video about her on the NYSUT website .  The Clarion, the PSC’s newspaper, once again took top honors in the journalism contest, including winning the Solidarity Award for its coverage of academic freedom issues.

Contract Negotiations Continue

The PSC bargaining team will be back at the negotiating table with CUNY management this Friday, May 4. Union negotiators will continue detailed presentation of PSC demands and begin discussion of the management demands presented on April 20.  To observe the May 4 bargaining session or a session later this spring or summer, contact Cheshire Frager at the union office at cfrager@pscmail.org. For a full list of management demands, analysis and more, visit the negotiations section on the website.

The national conversation in the aftermath of the haunting events at Virginia Tech has largely been about campus security. That’s critical, but it’s not enough.  We need better mental health care nationwide, especially psychological support for students.  There is an appalling shortage of psychological counseling faculty at CUNY. Join me on May 9 in demanding budget increases for CUNY and additional funds for counselors. ~Barbara Bowen, President