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.
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
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.