News & Events

PSC member Saira Rafiee granted re-entry to U.S.

Saira Rafiee, the PSC member and CUNY doctoral student who was denied entry into the U.S. as a result of President Trump's atrocious executive order banning legal immigrants from seven countries, has been granted re-entry to the United States. Ms. Rafiee landed Saturday in Boston.

CUNY student activists, lawyers from CUNY's Citizenship Now! program, family members and others were at Logan Airport to greet her. That Saira was able to return is thanks to a huge collective effort-together with her own political courage and vision. Even while the outcome of her own case was uncertain, Saira insisted that she be seen as one among many; she called on us to elevate the cases of people without unions and with less access to public voice.

Union support matters. Hundreds of PSC members responded to the union's call for messages urging action on Saira's case, helping to focus public attention on her case. (Click here for a sample of media coverage on PSC and student actions last week.) PSC officers sought advice from the extraordinary immigration lawyers who work at CUNY, and enlisted the support of Senator Schumer, the American Federation of Teachers, Mayor de Blasio, and several other Congressional and local representatives. All deserve our thanks.

Praises Strong Support of Public Higher Education and Universal Pre-K

The Professional Staff Congress (PSC) announced today its endorsement Mayor Bill de Blasio for re-election. The union is backing de Blasio because of his progressive track record over the last four years, particularly his strong support of public higher education.

PSC President Barbara Bowen said: “Mayor de Blasio came into office promising to fight for universal pre-K, expand the paid sick leave law to cover thousands more workers, and raise the minimum wage for all City employees and contractors. He did that. He has also, with less public attention, increased funding for the City University of New York. And in the weeks since the election of Donald Trump, he has reaffirmed New York’s status as a sanctuary city. As CUNY faculty and staff, we understand the vital role public higher education plays in combating income inequality, and we know that increased City funding for CUNY is making a difference. We also understand the urgency of asserting a progressive agenda at this political moment. There is still more to be done, and we will work with Mayor de Blasio to advance a progressive agenda for New York.”

On Saturday, January 21, over 1,000 people -- faculty, staff, family, friends, students and other trade unionists -- marched with the PSC in NYC Women’s March.

The Mayor’s office estimated the NYC event at 400,000, with thousands still marching long after sunset. Millions – some estimates as high as 4 million -- participated in 673 events in all fifty states and on seven continents. There was even a rally in Antarctica.

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Numbers are growing for the Women's March on New York City this Saturday, January 21! Sign up here to let us know you plan to join the large PSC contingent and to receive updates. Bring your family, colleagues and friends. All are welcome. We have also invited CUNY students and labor activists from other unions to march with us. Join us on this historic day of resistance.

Don’t miss this historic, necessary protest. And you don’t have to travel to D.C. to participate. The PSC is organizing with CUNY students for a strong contingent at the Women’s March on New York City.

PSC Meeting Point:
Northwest corner of 46th Street and 1st Avenue
For the rally and march: by 10:15
For the march only: by 11:30

Let us know that we can count on you to be there by filling out this form.

A Message from PSC Treasurer Sharon Persinger

Dear PSC members,

We have confirmed dates! In our meetings and phone calls with CUNY's Office of Human Resources Management, we continued to stress PSC members' anger at the length of time it has taken for the hard-won pay increases to actually show up in their paychecks. We insisted that the timetable announced in the first update must be made firm, and now it has been. We are assured by CUNY, New York State, and New York City that our retroactive pay back to 4/20/2012 will be paid in the second paycheck of January 2017, on January 19, 2017 at the senior colleges and on January 27, 2017 at the community colleges. In addition, faculty and professional staff who are on biweekly payroll on those dates will receive the biweekly pay reflecting salary increases through 4/20/2016.

For more details on the salary increases, back pay, tax-deferred retirement savings plans and reappointment letters, read the rest of this message. For even more information, you can follow this link to CUNY's "Frequently Asked Questions" on salary increases and retroactive pay, posted at the website of CUNY's Office of Human Resources Management.

h2>CUNY Rising White Paper Praises What Works At CUNY, Calls for $2B in Public Funding to End Chronic Disinvestment

New York—The CUNY Rising Alliance and supporters called on Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo today to uphold their post-election promises to protect at-risk New Yorkers by committing to phase in a $2 billion plan to fund free, high-quality education for all City University of New York students.

CUNY undergraduates are 40% immigrants and 77% people of color. CUNY serves a half-million mostly low-income New Yorkers and most of New York’s immigrant students. Many CUNY students feel threatened by the racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric of the presidential election and the rise in hate crimes in its aftermath. Yet the university they depend on for a chance at the American Dream is too expensive for many and vastly underfunded.

About 8,000 students attend tuition-free as part of CUNY’s nationally renowned and well-funded Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) initiative. That number will grow to 25,000 by 2018 thanks to promised investments from the City, but still fewer than 10% of matriculated CUNY students will benefit. ASAP students are more likely to succeed at CUNY and graduate faster than other CUNY students because they receive high-contact teaching and advisement and robust supports that CUNY cannot afford to offer to most students.

The white paper released today by CUNY Rising explains the success of ASAP and CUNY’s other targeted student success programs. It also details the disinvestment that imperils CUNY’s mission to educate “the children of the whole people” of New York. From 2008 – 2015 per-student funding from the State fell 17% at CUNY senior colleges and 5% at community colleges, when adjusted for inflation. Per-student City funding for the community colleges fell 13% over the same period, when adjusted for inflation.

President Bowen presented this letter calling on CUNY to become a "sanctuary university," as defined by the AAUP, to Chancellor Milliken in a meeting the morning of Friday, December 2. The letter was sent to Chairperson Thompson later that afternoon. The PSC officers strongly urged the Chancellor to make a public declaration of sanctuary and to do so as soon as possible. The CUNY administration has already indicated that it is committed to several of the positions urged by the PSC. The union is hopeful that CUNY will make a declaration. CUNY should be at the forefront of the sanctuary university movement.

The PSC's Environmental Justice Committee sponsored a lively and highly informative forum on Climate Change on Wednesday evening, November 30, in the Union Hall. The theme was "Organizing Urgency: What the PSC and CUNY can and should do".

Three panelists looked at the crisis through two different lenses: scientific evidence and community organizing for climate justice.

Geology Professor Stephen Pekar of Queens College summarized the scientific case for the reality of climate change and the role of human activity in generating and exacerbating the problem.

Leslie Cagan, a renowned organizer of mass collective actions, including the 2014 People's Climate March that mobilized hundreds of thousands and in which the PSC had a strong contingent, promoted the organizing mantra of “think globally, act locally.”

Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE, a community environmental organization in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, gave a powerful presentation on new approaches to resistance and transformation in the environmental justice movement.

Discussion following the presentations was lively, characterized by a commitment to joining and expanding the work over the coming months of the PSC's Environmental Justice Committee.

A Message from Barbara Bowen, PSC President

Many of us feel shattered and threatened by the result of the election last week. Violence of all kinds suddenly seems much closer-violence against the climate and against other nation-states, but also against women, people of color, the poor, Muslims, immigrants, Jews, children, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, transgender and transsexual people and others. Political discourse, as Toni Morrison writes, has been "shredded by an unreason and hatred so deep that vulgar abuse seems normal."

And the implications of the election are only just beginning to unfold. We can expect that civil liberties, academic freedom, public education and union rights will also come under attack. Incidents of racism and anti-Semitism whose proponents have explicitly linked their actions to Trump have already occurred on college campuses.

Such attacks must not happen at CUNY-to anyone. I know that not all PSC members agreed with the union's position on the election. But I am confident that all PSC members join me in believing that there is no place for hatred on a university campus, especially when the university is CUNY. CUNY was founded on the principle that "the children of the whole people" are entitled to a free college education of the highest quality. That principle is more important now than ever.

Only Union Members Can Vote.

You must be a member of the union before December 5, 2016 to vote in the PSC chapter elections to be held in the spring of 2017.

Fourteen of the PSC’s chapters will elect officers this spring. They will also elect delegates and alternates to the PSC Delegate Assembly and members of the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund Advisory Council. To be eligible for a PSC vote, you must have been a member of the union four months prior to the date of ballot mailing. There is no extra cost to becoming a member, but you must submit a membership application. When you submit an application, the deduction on your paycheck will simply change from “agency fee” to “dues.” (Here’s how to check your paystub to confirm you are a union member and not an agency fee payer.) Current CUNY employees may submit an online membership application by clicking on the appropriate membership form at this link. Please share this information and these links with your colleagues.

You must be a member of the union before December 5, 2016 to vote in the PSC chapter elections to be held in the spring of 2017. Adjuncts who work at more than one CUNY campus and are unsure of which chapter they are a part of may call the PSC membership department at 212-354-1252.

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