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July 30, 2007

Bargaining Sessions Resume

The union and management negotiating teams are scheduled to meet this Thursday, August 2, and again on August 28. Contact Amanda DeJesus Magalhaes at adejesus@pscmail.org if you would like to attend either session. The August 2 session will focus on non-economic issues raised by both sides, including the PSC proposal for better health and safety provisions.  Informal discussions have taken place during July, and the August sessions will build on progress made there. Despite progress in informal talks and a schedule of formal sessions, the most important element—a financial offer—is still missing.  Less than two months from the expiration of the current contract on September 19, CUNY has still made no economic offer to the faculty and staff represented by the PSC.  Chancellor Goldstein’s representatives explain that they cannot advance until New York State is prepared to authorize an offer, and the State has yet to sign any contract agreements under Governor Spitzer.  But touting CUNY’s renaissance, as University officials have been busy doing, while delaying needed raises and other improvements for the people who have made that renaissance possible is an insult to the faculty and staff.   

Contract Campaign Heats Up

There are several ways, from large to small, that PSC members can be part of the effort to let CUNY know that we are entitled to a good contract and that we are not interested in their regressive demands—even if you’re away on vacation.

You Can Still Sign the Petition

2,500 PSC members signed the petition in support of the union’s bargaining agenda before the deadline for getting their names included in the Clarion’s printed version. The Clarion is in the mail today, so watch for your copy and see who else among your colleagues has signed (you can also see the list of signers online). If you haven’t signed, you still can. We will continue to collect signatures into the fall semester, and we are planning to present all the petition signatures to management on September 19, the day our current contract expires.

“Our CUNY vs. Their CUNY” September 19

The Contract Campaign Organizing Committee is inviting PSC members to contribute a piece of creative work on what life would really be like under management’s demands, or under the PSC’s demands, to be considered for presentation at a cultural event on September 19, the date the current contract expires.  As part of an effort to highlight for members just how different our vision for the University is from management’s we are calling on the creativity of PSC members to bring to life what is really at stake in these negotiations. For more details and submission information, visit the negotiations section of the website. You can find the same information in the Clarion out today and on the postcard mailed to all members last week.

Save the Date! Mass Meeting October 30

On Tuesday, October 30, the union is planning a mass meeting at 6pm in the event that management has not agreed to a new contract by then. Put the date in your calendar now.

“Justice Delayed” at Grad Center Research Foundation

A few weeks ago “This Week in the PSC” reported on a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) victory for CUNY Research Foundation (RF) workers at the Grad Center who had organized with the PSC and voted in a union election in 2005. The ballots in the election had been impounded, pending resolution of claims by the RF that some of the workers who were also graduate students were not in fact “employees” as defined by federal labor law. Those claims were rejected by the NLRB at every level, as we reported July 9. (You can also read the coverage by The Chief, the civil service weekly newspaper.)

The ballots were then scheduled to be counted on July 18, but when PSC representatives arrived at the Regional NLRB office in New York City that morning they found that RF management’s earlier challenges to the ballots of certain other voters created roadblocks to completing the count.  Management had contended that some of those who voted were supervisors and not eligible to be part of the bargaining unit and therefore not eligible to vote. The balloting procedure was complicated because professional employees voted separately on whether they wanted union representation and, if so, whether they wanted to be represented in a separate professional unit or in an overall unit with other RF Grad Center employees.  The resolution of the challenged ballots could potentially affect the outcome of those votes.  PSC representatives sought compromises on the challenges, but management was unwilling to change its positions, so most of the ballots—once again—were not counted while the merits of the challenges are investigated. Last week the NLRB Regional Director asked the parties to submit evidence on the challenge issue by this Thursday, August 2. We will report as soon as we know after that what the outcome is and when the ballots will finally be counted. In the meantime, the case is becoming a textbook example of how the NLRB election process that governs private-sector labor relations has become a tool for management efforts to thwart unionization. “Justice delayed is justice denied,” as William Gladstone observed.

Contact Governor Spitzer to Sign Pension Equity Bill

As "This Week" readers know, the next stop for the pension equity bill that the union has worked seven years to pass is the governor’s desk, and we need your help to secure his signature and seal the victory on this crucial legislation. You can send a letter to Governor Spitzer through the PSC website. You can also write a personal letter to the governor. Sending as many letters as possible in the next two weeks is critical. For details and background, see the July 16 edition of “This Week in the PSC."

“We are a union of writers, artists, musicians, researchers and teachers.  Use that imaginative power to envision CUNY’s future—under management’s bargaining demands or under ours.  Few things will make the contract negotiations more real.  There is a great tradition of literary and artistic ‘dystopias’ that skewer their subjects—think of Gulliver’s Travels. Consider trying your hand in that tradition this summer for our September 19 event.”   ~Barbara Bowen, President