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July 20, 2009

Union Wins Full 15th Week Pay for Adjuncts
Last week the PSC and CUNY agreed that, effective with the Fall 2009 semester, teaching adjuncts across CUNY will be paid the same amount in the last week of the semester as they are for all the other weeks. Adjuncts, with support from full-time faculty and staff, mounted a PSC “Campaign of Outrage” targeting the five colleges that did not consistently follow this practice: Baruch, College of Staten Island, and Bronx, Kingsborough and Queensborough Community Colleges.

“Starting in the Fall, teaching adjuncts at all CUNY campuses will now get paid equitably for the last week of the semester,” said Diane Menna, PSC part-time officer and lead organizer of the union’s “Campaign of Outrage.”   

Stop Tier 5 ! 
With the State Senate back in session, the PSC is working hard against the creation of a new, inferior pension tier (Tier 5), and to ensure the exclusion of CUNY faculty and staff if any new tier is adopted.

“A lower pension tier would not add one penny to this year’s [State] budget,” PSC President Barbara Bowen wrote in a letter to members last week, “because the money it generates is not realized for 10 years. New York State’s budget crisis was not caused by overspending on pensions or education. It was caused by 30 years of tax policy that reduced the top tax rate by half and deprived the state of income.”

Creating a Tier 5 would not affect future benefits of those who already belong to a pension system, since these are protected by law. (For adjuncts who have not yet joined a pension system, this highlights the importance of signing up right away.) But a lower pension tier would make recruitment of new faculty and staff to CUNY even harder than it is today. It would hurt our colleagues and harm our students’ education.

The union may need you to sign a petition, send a fax or attend a rally to stop the Tier 5 proposal; click here to e-mail the PSC’s Sharon Tonge to join our activist list. The situation in Albany changes every day, and the result may depend on you.

Support PSC Members at CUNY’s Research Foundation
PSC members at the CUNY Research Foundation’s central office – who earn, on average, $48,500 per year – have been without a contract since January 1, 2009. RF-CUNY has demanded that the workers pay a larger share of health insurance premiums and offered them below-inflation salary increases, around 2% per year, while spending half a million dollars a year on union-busting lawyers. Tell the RF management – including CUNY Chancellor Goldstein, chair of the RF-CUNY Board – to offer the central office employees a fair economic package. Sign on here.

EOC Ballots Due Next Monday, 7/27
PSC members who work at the Educational Opportunities Centers (EOCs) are currently voting by mail on ratification of their new contract terms. The ballots are due in to the American Arbitration Association by 5 pm on Monday, 7/27, and will be counted the next day.

If you’re a PSC member employed at an EOC and haven’t yet received your ballot, please call PSC Coordinator of Office Services Barbara Gabriel in the PSC office, 212-354-1252. You can also call her if you would like to observe the vote count.

Obama on Community Colleges
In a policy address at Macomb Community College in Michigan last Tuesday, President Barack Obama vowed to increase federal support for community colleges. “Community colleges are treated like the stepchild of the higher education system; they're an afterthought, if they're thought of at all,” Obama said.

To change that, the president proposed $9 billion for a new program of competitive grants, to support community colleges efforts in job training and increasing rates of degree completion. Another $2.5 billion in federal funds would be used to back $10 billion in loans to fund construction and renovation of community college facilities. (If approved by Congress, Chronicle of Higher Education reports that would be the first major federal aid to community college construction since 1970.)

Obama said the new funding would be paid for by savings resulting from his proposed shift away from subsidizing private banks to make student loans and offering direct federal loans instead, according to Inside Higher Education. That change, like the community college proposals, must be approved by Congress.