Clarion Masthead

Members push for timely pay

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Hunter College Chapter Chair Jeremy Glick, at left, was among the many members speaking out September 19.
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PSC members came out in force September 19 for CUNY's Board of Trustees hearing at Baruch College in Manhattan.

While members overwhelming ratified a new contract with CUNY, the decision by the state to implement the agreed upon wage increases and back pay this coming January, as opposed to the beginning of the school year, has caused frustration and hardship. In emotional and personal official testimony to the CUNY board, both written and spoken, members made their grievances known.

Isabel de Sena

Adjunct Professor, Hispanic languages and literatures,
Queens College

I am a faculty adjunct, and I was very much counting on that money. I have two children, a mortgage to pay and urgently required repairs on my house that need to be done before winter. Given the current news about when we will be paid, I won’t be able to take care of this.

Kara Lynn Andersen

Assistant Professor, film studies,
Brooklyn College

I wish that I could be at the public hearing of the Board of Trustees in person: I am a single parent to two young children and I cannot afford to pay my babysitter to stay late. Delayed payments mean that I cannot afford to attend after-hours events in my department.

This means I have less contact with my students in spite of already paying for 50 hours a week of childcare – I simply cannot pay for more. I have had to delay needed dental work for myself, and should the delays continue until January 2017, I will need to cut back on not only holiday gifts for my children, but bonuses and tips for the other people in our lives. More significantly, it means that my ability to save money against future needs is severely curtailed.

Rita C. Tobin

Adjunct Assistant Professor, English,
Hunter College

No one teaching at CUNY – and no one in the PSC, I’m sure – believed when this contract was negotiated and approved that we would continue to wait for months and months for our money.

CUNY seems incapable of understanding that we teachers are real people with families and bills to pay.

Kate Walter

Lecturer, academic literacy and linguistics,
Borough of Manhattan Community College

Unless we get this money in 2016, the delayed raise payment will delay my retirement year or I will retire with less money than expected. Both choices are unacceptable. I’m 67 and want to retire in 2018, with my last three years being 2016, 2017, 2018. When I heard we signed the contract this summer, I assumed we would get the raise money in the Fall semester of 2016. And that still needs to happen. This inexcusable delay is creating hardships and messing up the lives of the hardworking CUNY faculty. We need the raise now, in 2016.

Jeremy Glick

Associate Professor, English,
Hunter College

I understand exploitation as the extraction of surplus value from labor, i.e., the payment of workers less than the value produced. Academics, teachers and university personnel voluntarily work above and beyond their compensation as a matter of principle and commitment. I imagine on some level all workers do. To take advantage of that fact by way of this delay is at best gross negligence, at worst naked contempt…In this climate of faux austerity and war against workers, this body has to command the intelligence to realize that if you care about preserving and dignifying the mission of CUNY, faculty is your first line of defense.

Elizabeth Wall-O’Brien

Academic Advisor,
Hunter College

“We live in East Harlem…[where] gunfire is a familiar sound – my husband had to duck behind parked cars during a gang fight in broad daylight. Our apartment is filled with mold, roaches and the ceilings are cracked. Not to mention that the building cannot support the use of air conditioning in the summer.

The heat is unbearable at times and my family and I have often gone to the Silberman building [on campus] to seek relief. We are on the verge of losing our apartment because we cannot keep up with the rent. We need to move to a less expensive apartment, farther away, but we cannot afford a move without the retro pay and raise. My daughter is disabled, my husband is a senior citizen and Vietnam Vet and I live in constant fear of losing my roof.

For us, it doesn’t even matter that the holidays are coming; we are long past caring. We are accustomed to visiting food banks, collecting cans and bottles for change, and we are accustomed to skipping gifts, etc. Those things are luxuries. I need my well-earned raise and retro pay so I don’t end up on the street.