THE PAST YEAR, AND THE UNION'S FUTURE

by Steve London, PSC First Vice President

PSCcuny
NEWS BULLETIN

APRIL 2001

 

CLICK TO GO TO

PSC Home Page

The CUNY Budget: Moment of Truth

TeachCUNY reaches 18 campuses, 100s of classrooms

Negotiations Update

Letters to the Editor

New PSC Committee on Diversity Begins Work

Health and Safety Update: It's in the Air

New Faculty Speak Out at Brooklyn College

DA Approves Dues Change for Part-Timers

Lights Out for Edison 

Spotlight on Adjunct Concerns at Legislative Hearing

Washington State & California Take the Lead on Adjunct Equity

What the Statistics Say

What the Adjuncts Say

ACTing Out: Giuliani & Media vs CUNY (with bibiliography on testing)

"Teach CUNY" and the Classroom

How Not to Teach at CUNY

The Past Year and the Union's Future

Against Common Sense

 

 

 

 

 

Almost a year has passed since the PSC’s new leadership took office. Where do we stand? What have we accomplished and what is left to do?

A year ago, the PSC and CUNY were both in a state of disrepair. The PSC central office needed restructuring, modernization, financial accountability mechanisms and revitalization. The talent, energy and expertise of the membership, for so long kept outside, needed to be mobilized and integrated into the functioning of the union. The majority of the members of our bargaining unit (mostly adjuncts) were not members of the union and needed to be organized. The democratic bodies of the PSC also needed to be activated and constituted as the PSC Constitution envisioned.

CUNY’s problems are well-known. We have been under-funded by the state and city, ruled by a politicized Board of Trustees, the Chancellory has implemented corporate policies that undermine professional authority and autonomy, and we have a mayor who regularly disparages us.

It has not been easy to deal with all these issues at once, but we have made progress. With a new executive and associate director in place and a talented staff—both new and old—the central office is well on its way to better meeting the union’s goals and serving the membership. We have built a network of grievance, political action, safety and health, contract, and membership committees in the chapters to facilitate membership involvement in union policy-making and action. We have begun a major organizing drive that will bring the thousands of teaching adjuncts and other part-timers into the union, and we are in the initial stages of planning an organizing drive for the CUNY Research Foundation.

We have found that many of our natural allies do not know how bad things are at CUNY or how short-sighted are the policies of the State, City, and Board of Trustees. In our first year, we have therefore reached out to labor, community, religious and student groups as well as politicians to educate and build support for our budget and contract proposals.

The budget and contract campaigns have had measurable success. Our budget campaign contributed to CUNY increasing the budget request that it sent to the governor last fall, and this spring, after intense lobbying, the New York State Assembly significantly upped its proposed budget request for CUNY. The contract campaign has involved hundreds of members. From its inception with the formulation of our proposals, to letter-writing and participating in contract committees, to our successful organizing for "Teach CUNY," we have found new ways to tap the energy and creativity of our membership. We played an important role, along with other unions, in winning a good health and welfare settlement from the city. The success of "Teach CUNY" has begun a process of expanding knowledge of and support for the union’s contract and budget proposals.

But we do not yet have a good contract and budget, we have many members of our bargaining unit to organize, and most faculty and staff are not yet active in our efforts to win a visionary contract and budget. The union leadership cannot accomplish these tasks for the members—to win we need the power of the membership and the support of our friends and allies.

That is why it is so important for union members to become involved in their chapters and take part in city-wide initiatives. To have some say over the future direction of CUNY, we have to establish a union culture throughout the University.

While we have won some budget victories in the Assembly, the Senate and Governor have not recognized our needs and remain to be convinced. We need your active participation in our ongoing budget campaign (see back page). The Board of Trustees remains intransigent in contract negotiations, and on April 23 we all need to demonstrate to the Board of Trustees that we are united in wanting to rebuild CUNY according to the principles outlined in our contract proposals.

How can we rebuild CUNY, and make sure that we have a voice in its direction? Only with your active involvement.