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July 28, 2008

Contract Ballots Mailed Tomorrow, Campus Meetings Continue

Ratification ballots for the new contract will be mailed to all eligible members tomorrow, along with a summary of the contract, the official Memorandum of Agreement signed by CUNY and the PSC, a letter from Chancellor Goldstein on 100 adjunct conversion lines, and a signed agreement on the provision of health insurance for doctoral student employees. Members will have until September 2 to cast their votes, and they will be able to vote by phone or web interface as well as by traditional mail ballot. Both the extended timeline and the multiple voting methods were designed to ensure that the logistics of summer would not bar any eligible member from voting. As in past ratifications, the entire process is being supervised by the American Arbitration Association. If you do not receive your ballot by August 5, please contact Donna Williams-DeVose in the PSC office at 212-354-1252.

A special issue of Clarion on the contract was mailed to members on July 22. The entire issue is also available online at the PSC website, as are the summary of the agreement, the the documents mentioned above, and an FAQ page about the proposed agreement.

Meanwhile, campus meetings on the contract continue. Upcoming meetings currently scheduled include:

  • BCC, July 28, 2-4pm, Philosophy Hall Room 11

  • Grad Center, July 29, 12-2pm, Skylight Room 9102

  • Queens, July 30, 12:15-2pm, Benjamin Rosenthal Library, President’s Conference Room

  • Medgar Evers, July 31, exact time and location TBA

  • KCC, July 31, 11:30am, Tapestry Room

Additional campus meetings are being scheduled. Please check the website for the latest meeting information

Deadline Approaching for HEOs Submitting Claims for Back Compensatory Time

As reported last week, members in the Higher Education Officer title series who want to claim compensatory time to which they are entitled for authorized time worked in excess of 35 hours per week between July 19, 2007 and June 24, 2008 must submit a claim by August 24, 2008 or else they will forfeit the right for compensatory time for this period. A letter and fact sheet explaining the background and details on how to file a claim was mailed to all HEOs last week and is available on the website. If you have questions after reading this material, please contact a HEO grievance counselor in the PSC office at 212-354-1252 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays.

A special HEO chapter meeting will be held on next Tuesday, August 5, at 6pm at the Grad Center in Room C-918 (on the concourse level) to discuss the implementation of the HEO overtime agreement and answer members’ questions.  Dinner will be served.

Commission on Higher Ed Releases Final Report

The New York State Commission on Higher Education, established last year by former Governor Eliot Spitzer, released its final report last week. Spitzer’s rhetoric in support of higher education and the prominence he gave the issue in major speeches had given PSC members and other higher education advocates hope that this year would be the year New York State might finally address the chronic underfunding of its public higher education system. Dozens of PSC members testified before the Commission. The commission’s preliminary report, released last December, marked the first official acknowledgement by State officials of the comparative underfunding of CUNY and SUNY and the resulting crisis that the lack of public funding has created. The Commission’s recommendations, however, fell far short of solutions that would redress the problems. In particular, the preliminary report failed to call for substantial public reinvestment in CUNY and SUNY. The PSC released an analysis and statement on the preliminary report that drew attention to the Commission’s documentation of the funding crisis. As this year’s state budget was finished, the prospects for serious reinvestment in public higher education faded. The Commission, nonetheless, finished and released its final report as planned.

The final report’s narrative and recommendations largely replicate both the strong suits and the weaknesses of the preliminary report. The new report continues to make a valuable contribution to the long-term battle for public higher education by identifying the need for increased public funding. Its recommendations, however, again fall far short of the mark. While calling for a modest increase in full-time faculty, the report also endorses deregulation that would allow CUNY and SUNY to increase tuition more easily, without State legislative approval; a position opposed by the PSC. The recommendation most embraced by Governor Paterson is a call for a low-cost student loan program—a valuable program, but no substitute for public reinvestment in public higher education.

Medicare, COLA Money Coming to Retirees

Retirees who have Medicare A and B will get refund checks for Medicare Part B payments from New York City in late August.  This benefit was negotiated between the city municipal unions and the city administration. In September retirees in the New York City Teachers Retirement System and Employees Retirement System who have been retired for at least five years and are over 62 will get a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The COLA is 2% of up to $18,000 of income. This benefit was won through legislative action by NYSUT and supported by your PSC-COPE contributions.