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August 20, 2007

Governor Spitzer Signs Pension Equity into Law

As the union announced this weekend, Governor Spitzer signed the PSC-originated pension equity bill into law late last Wednesday. The new legislation provides equity with TRS participants for participants in TIAA-CREF and other similar plans by phasing out the mandatory pension contribution for faculty and staff with ten years of credited service in CUNY or SUNY. The City and State will pick up the employee’s required contribution, increasing take-home pay for eligible faculty and staff by up to 3%. (Implementation details will be published as soon as they become available.)

In response to a message in last week's "This Week in the PSC," 658 CUNY faculty and staff reached the governor’s office by calling the hotline. That’s an impressive number in two days. Many more tried and were unable to get through, and thousands sent emails, faxes and personal letters. As the PSC develops a plan to build on this success in Albany, we welcome new participants in the work. E-mail PSC First Vice President Steve London to get involved.

Contract Update

Membership participation is also the key to a good contract, and there are several ways for you to show your support as the two sides continue talks at the bargaining table. More than 700 CUNY faculty and staff have added their names to the petition in support of the union’s bargaining agenda since the petition was published in the summer Clarion, and there is still time to sign before it is delivered to Chancellor Goldstein on September 19. 

The next formal bargaining session is scheduled for August 28. In the meantime, on-going discussion of non-economic issues has been fruitful, but the process is hampered by CUNY’s failure to make any economic proposal—the union cannot settle without a financial offer. The PSC bargaining team points out that management’s aggressive advertising campaign featuring CUNY faculty rings a bit hollow if CUNY fails to offer the money necessary to improve our salaries and working conditions. 

PSC bargaining team members will visit campuses early in the semester; watch for the meeting date -- and save the date of Tuesday evening, October 30, for a mass meeting in the Great Hall of Cooper Union, if the contract is not settled by then. 

Email Amanda DeJesus Magalhaes or call her at (212) 354-1252 if you would like to observe a negotiating session.

Retirees Receive Medicare Part B Reimbursements

Retirees who are eligible for Medicare and who retired before January 1, 2007 should have received their Medicare Part B reimbursement in the mail by now. (Part B is an insurance policy that covers doctor’s bills but requires payment of an individual premium -- which is reimbursed.)

The City increased the reimbursement to cover the full amount in 2002, after more than a decade of lobbying by New York City unions, including the PSC, the UFT and DC 37. The labor coalition helped mobilize retirees and other members to send postcards, meet with City Council members and testify before the Council.

The benefit covers both a retiree and her or his spouse or domestic partner once he or she is eligible for Medicare. Retirees who need to sign up should contact their college’s human resources department or see page 9 of the January 2005 Clarion.

HEO Handbook Now Available

Are you a PSC member in the HEO series? That’s Higher Education Officer – the members who administer student services, direct programs, and work in registrar’s, bursar’s and president’s offices – among many other jobs. Now HEOs have their own handbook on the rules and provisions in the PSC-CUNY contract that are particular to them. It is available from the union office, contact Adrienne DeRoss at (212)354-1252.

PSC Hires Organizing Coordinator

Brooklyn native Nick Cruz, the PSC’s new Organizing Coordinator, began his career as a special education teacher in Texas. His union activism started in the classroom, when a principal forced him to work during his lunch hours until his AFT representative stepped in to help him enforce their contract. Cruz went on to be a shop steward, then a professional organizer with the AFT, working on campaigns in Texas, Puerto Rico and most recently, with professional staff at Rutgers.

"I didn’t realize the power of being in the union until my representative helped me. It changed my life to see the resources available to me that I didn’t know existed. I’m thrilled to have come full circle -- returned to New York City and found a professional home at the PSC, with folks who really care about what they do," he said.

You can be reached at (212) 354-1252 or ncruz@pscmail.org.

“One lesson to draw from the success on our pension bill is that with a powerful coalition of support and intense membership participation—and seven years of work—the union can make real gains in the legislative arena. What else might we be able to achieve? I want to use this moment to develop an even more ambitious legislative agenda. This could be the moment for you to join the union’s legislative team—we need your imagination and your energy.”  ~Barbara Bowen, President