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September 22, 2008

Contract Provision of the Week: Three Sick Days to Care for Family Health

Now that the contract has been ratified, several new provisions can begin. We plan to highlight the new contractual provisions this fall in upcoming editions of “This Week.”  Last week's provision was salaries.

A small but significant victory of the new contract is the right to use up to three accrued sick days annually for the care of an ill family member.  All faculty and staff who accrue sick days — that is, most full-timers — now have the right to use up to three days per year of accrued sick leave (called “temporary disability leave” in the contract) for the care of a family member’s illness.  For the thousands of faculty and staff eligible for this benefit, it means that you no longer have to use your annual leave or count on the kindness of your supervisor or colleagues to take a few days to care for a family member.  (Meanwhile, the union continues to work with CUNY management to include part-timers in the new provision for sharing sick days.) If you are eligible for the accrued sick leave benefit and wish to take  advantage of it, inform your department chair or supervisor.

More questions and answers are available on the PSC website.

Financial Sector Crisis

The first question many PSC members have asked the union about the current crisis in finance sector of the economy—a crisis that is the result of policy decisions, starting with deregulation—is, “Will the State budget cuts will affect our contract and our raises?” The answer is no.  The “paybill” necessary to fund the new PSC-CUNY contract was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor this summer.  The funds in that bill were not affected by the recent budget cuts to CUNY.  “The PSC leadership anticipated the deficit projections by the State; that is one reason we pressed to settle the contract in June,” PSC President Barbara Bowen told This Week.  

The second question members ask is, “How does this affect my pension?”  The PSC is working to make sure you receive the best information and protection that can be provided by the organizations that invest members’ pensions.  We will update you as more information becomes available; participants in TIAA-CREF may want to consult their statements on market volatility and the recent economic downturn. TRS members may have read the Comptroller’s letter suspending short-selling by pension funds last week.

Have You Sent in Your List for $50 Million?

The new issue of Clarion invites you to send an e-mail message to Chancellor Goldstein about how you would have spent the $50.6 million that was cut from the State budget for CUNY this summer.  In her column in Clarion this month, President Barbara Bowen explains that the Legislature voted for the massive budget cut only after Chancellor Goldstein took the position that the impact of the cut could be minimized.  Her column lists some of the ways CUNY could have spent $50 million.  Do you have a list of your own? Click on the "Act Now" icon on the PSC website to send Chancellor Goldstein yours.

Labor Goes to the Movies Announces New Season Devoted to Anti-Racism

The 2008-09 season of Labor Goes to the Movies is an exploration of the possibilities of an anti-racist cinema, and seeks to stimulate action as well as foster discussion to combat the persistent legacies and realities of racism. The series is part of the PSC’s emerging commitment to collective work against racism and our recognition of the central importance of anti-racist movements to the history of CUNY, whose historic mission for 160 years has been to educate “the children of the whole people.”

The season begins on Friday, September 26 with Oscar Micheaux’s 1920 film Within Our Gates. Oscar Micheaux was an early African-American filmmaker who made independent films for 30 years. Within Our Gates focuses on the themes of racially and economically motivated violence in the early twentieth century. Although censored by some states for its scenes of murder, lynching and rape, the film provides an incisive look at American race relations from one of the pioneers of African-American filmmaking.

A full listing of this season's movies is here on the PSC website.

CUNY Social Forum in October
The CUNY Social Forum, an event that brings together progressive scholars and activists, will be held Oct. 17 to 19 at City College. Of particular concern are issues relating to CUNY's historic mission to serve the diverse working people of NYC and its status as an urban university dedicated to producing knowledge that contributes to the public good.

Several PSC members and committees are planning to participate; they urge others to join them. More information is available on the Social Forum website.