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Letters to the Editor

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In defense of Democrats

The recent letter to the editor by James Dennis Hoff (Clarion, November/December 2016) does little to help move the United States toward a more just and equitable society. It is based on the erroneous notion that elections don’t matter. We have the harder challenge of penetrating the more representative and progressive political party given that in the US we do not have runoff elections that allow us to vote for our ideal candidate in the first round and our acceptable candidate in the second round.

Voting for a third party has moral repercussions. It gave us eight years of George W. Bush and now Donald Trump. Voting for Jill Stein has given her supporters a sense of self-righteousness, while relegating most Americans to a reality of economic regression and political absolutism. Control of the state is the key to producing public policies that redound to society-at-large. The state needs to be captured and the Green Party has no chance of capturing the state.

Hillary Clinton advocated for reversing the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling on campaign financing, equal pay for women, laying the groundwork to invest in infrastructure, repairing schools, roads and bridges, investing in mass transit and supporting green energy firms. Bernie Sanders’ left reformism demonstrated the clear possibility of shifting Democratic Party concerns in the direction of a single-payer health plan, free public college tuition, a $15 hourly minimum wage, reinstating the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act separating commercial savings banks from investment banks, revving up the tax code on the wealthiest Americans and imposing a financial stock transaction tax, and opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Had she been elected, Clinton would have opened up to the social democratic reformism represented by the Sanders mass movement from below.

Peter Ranis, York College and
Graduate Center, Retiree

No more spoilers

For giving the presidency to Donald Trump, third-party voters deserve much of the blame. The Democratic candidate deserved our support, if only because she stood against the GOP agenda to abolish labor unions, Obamacare and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Democratic candidate pledged to deal with college debt and college costs, support compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform, raise the minimum wage and defend reproductive rights.

How many people’s lives are going to be ruined because of third-party voters? How many people were desperately praying for a raise in their meager wages or relief from college debt – and now will see neither? How many have fought for women’s rights and health care reform who will see their hard work go for nothing? How could we not do everything possible to keep a global warming denier out of the White House? Yet third-party voters gave him the keys. And for what – naive idealism? Sneering cynicism? Comfortable middle-class arrogance?

In the past, I always voted for the third party when my Democratic candidate was running on both lines. Not anymore.

Never has the truth been more obvious that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Now we also see that the purists hold nothing but callous disregard for the needs, hopes and welfare of the common people, the working people, the people Democrats steadfastly defend.

K.J. Walters, Lehman College

Use retro pay to fight

After six years without a contract and an extra semester of disrespect from CUNY, we are finally getting retroactive salary increases this month. Many of us have plans for this money, long overdue – especially adjunct faculty, who, even under this new contract, start at just $3,200 per course.

The political context has changed radically since our strike authorization vote less than a year ago. Most significantly, the election of Donald Trump almost assuredly means that the Supreme Court – with his new appointee installed – will radically accelerate the gutting of public sector unions by ending the agency shop fee law. Indeed, the case that will do this – Janus v. AFSCME – is already making its way through the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Simply put, we must make the 2017 contract fight our strongest, deepest and broadest fight in the history of the PSC. We can do this, but it will take work as well as money. When my retroactive pay comes this month, I am putting 10 percent of it in the union’s Militancy Fund that we started last spring. In my view, in the new era we must prepare to fight like there is no tomorrow. We must be ready to defend and expand the CUNY project with the most powerful tools available. If we wait and watch while the newly balanced Supreme Court ravages public sector unions, there may be no tomorrow.

I encourage anyone who is able, to also put 10 percent of their retroactive pay in the Militancy Fund. But, to be honest, your time is more important than your money. Learn about the structural change that is almost certainly coming to our union. Talk to your coworkers about it. Engage your union chapter: we need literally thousands of PSC campus activists to sign up some 5,000 agency fee payers, build maps of campus strengths and weaknesses, support and expand the CUNY Rising fight and build solidarity across the full membership, especially across the chasm between full- and part-time workers.

Let’s get the PSC ready for the fight of our lives. If we prepare, there is hope.

Luke Elliott-Negri, Graduate Center

Correction

The November/December 2016 issue included a notice for elections with some erroneous dates. Ballots will be mailed April 3, 2017. Ballots are due April 27, 2017, at 5:00 pm in both contested and uncontested elections. Ballots will be counted
April 28, 2017, at 10:00 am. We apologize for the confusion.

The issue also included testimony from Brooklyn College PSC Chapter Chair James Davis to the City Council regarding the Pathways program. He wrote in to clarify his statement that the provost had obstructed faculty governance. Davis said, “The Brooklyn College provost’s office forwarded the General Education program as part of a larger curriculum document to CUNY, which rejected the document the next day because the General Education component did not comply with Pathways.”