Campaign for a New CUNY Contract

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A Letter From Barbara Bowen: A New Level of Resistance Starts Now

August 27, 2015

Dear PSC Members,

Today is the first day of the new academic year at most CUNY colleges, and I'm sure you are eager to hear whether there has been progress on the contract. The news is not good: after more than a year in office, Chancellor Milliken has failed to offer a single dollar for raises or back-pay. He appears to be content to allow the CUNY faculty and staff to go six years without a raise—while collecting a $670,000 salary himself. We have all been patient long enough. Starting on this first day of the new academic year, the union will accept no more excuses.

Escalation
The union's executive council has spent the summer building alliances and developing a plan to create enough pressure to force a resolution on our contract. At the same time, the PSC has been pressing the Cuomo Administration to provide the necessary funding. We have planned an escalating series of actions that begins with emergency campus meetings, includes a demonstration at Milliken's apartment, and builds toward a mass public disruption later in the fall. If the contract is still not resolved, we are prepared to escalate further. Members will also have the opportunity to participate in training sessions on disruptive protest tactics and militant picket lines. Sign up here to let us know that you want to be part of the campaign for your contract.

We plan a systematic escalation of pressure so that Milliken, the CUNY Board of Trustees and others will feel the urgency we are feeling after six years without a raise. The campaign starts this week with emergency union meetings on campus; check here for the date at your college. On the morning of Thursday, October 1, the day of the first CUNY Board meeting of the year, PSC members and allies will deliver a "wake-up call" to Chancellor Milliken at his Manhattan apartment, where CUNY pays his rent—of $19,500 a month. We take the campaign to the classroom from October 19 to October 30, enriching the curriculum and teaching in public about the relation between our contract and the quality of education at CUNY. If the contract is still not resolved by November, we will engage in a disruptive mass action on Wednesday, November 4. And we will hold a mass meeting on Thursday, November 19 to assess progress and plan next steps, escalating further if needed.

The plan will work only if all of us are behind it. This is a fight for your own contract—your salary, your teaching load, your job security, your respect on the job. I am writing to ask you to make a commitment today to be part of that fight, even if you have never participated in a union action before. Join the hundreds of your colleagues who have already taken a stand against the erosion of our living conditions and the stealth attack on our students through the failure to resolve our contract. Click here to let us know that your colleagues can count on you.

Resistance
The PSC made a serious salary proposal in May. We have held six full bargaining sessions and a dozen smaller negotiating meetings since then, and have yet to receive anything more than a statement that our reasonable proposal for raises was overly ambitious. Meanwhile, New York State has so far failed to provide funding for retroactive pay or assure support for future increases. Contract negotiations continue, as do discussions with the Governor and his staff. After the union's demonstration last spring demanding movement on our demands, CUNY management began to make meaningful progress at the bargaining table on some of the union's non-economic demands. But even on these issues, CUNY needs to reach agreement. In the context of a complete failure to produce decent salaries, there is no excuse for management's unwillingness to accede to reasonable faculty and staff demands that do not involve money. The main issue, however, remains the economics. Six years without a raise is unconscionable. There is simply no excuse.

There is plenty of money in New York State and New York City to fund a good contract for the PSC; the local economy is expanding, and both City and State have budget surpluses. If Chancellor Milliken wants to separate himself from the economic austerity agenda that is behind New York State's failure to fund our contract, then he will have to do what it takes to produce a decent economic offer, whether that means more effective advocacy with the State or a reduction of the management payroll and a reallocation of CUNY’s budget reserves. Milliken has repeatedly claimed that a new contract and higher salaries are his priority. If raising salaries is your priority, you find a way to do it.

Faculty and Staff under Attack
At this point, with nearly all other public-employee contracts in the state settled, the failure to make an economic offer on the contracts for CUNY workers (those in the PSC and several other unions) has to be understood as an attack on us as CUNY employees.

The attack is part of an austerity agenda being fiercely pursued around the globe, and evident in New York State's approach under Governor Cuomo to public employee contracts. With the support of scores of legislators the PSC led a vigorous campaign for legislation to stabilize annual State funding for CUNY and SUNY. The maintenance-of-effort legislation was passed last spring, and we are hopeful that Governor Cuomo will signal a new direction by signing it. Meanwhile, the City of New York has indicated that it is prepared to provide funding for its share of our contract at a level commensurate with the funding provided to other City unions. While recent City contracts have provided lower settlements than CUNY faculty and staff need, they have included raises and, in some cases, back-pay. Most of CUNY's public funding, however, comes from the State, as New York State has financial responsibility for the four-year colleges. The biggest hurdle to our contract funding remains the State.

We are under attack through our contract because CUNY students and their communities are under attack. More than half of CUNY undergraduates have family incomes of less than $30,000. Three-quarters are Latino, Black or Asian. For hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in an economy that offers few other chances or protections, CUNY represents the only viable route out of permanent poverty. It offers a shot at a stable life—a fulfilling life—in a period of relentless downward pressure on working people and people of color in particular. For all its flaws and contradictions, CUNY remains one of New York's most powerful mechanisms for redistributing wealth more equitably.

That's why CUNY faculty and staff have been singled out: austerity politics, planned disinvestment in people of color—and the failure of Chancellor Milliken and the CUNY Board to mount a successful challenge to either.

Students under Attack
Without a new contract and decent salaries, the quality of education at CUNY is put at risk. As a member of the faculty and staff, you do not need to be told how CUNY's failure to produce a fair economic offer harms the quality of education. All of us working on the ground at CUNY feel it every day. Departments are struggling to recruit and retain the faculty they need; staff workloads interfere with the ability to assist individual students; students receive less attention from their professors when professors have to live hours away in order to afford housing; academic continuity for students is lost when adjuncts have no guarantee of appointment even after twenty years in one department.

The Pathways curriculum has already imposed educational austerity on CUNY students; now educational austerity is being deepened by management's failure on the contract. Our demand for economic justice for ourselves is inseparable from the demand for educational justice for CUNY students.

We Are Not Alone
That's why the union's plan to force a fair resolution of our contract involves expanding our struggle. We aim to involve all those who have an authentic stake in what CUNY means. As the semester develops, you will see—and, I hope, be part of—an increasingly public fight, with more media presence, a larger circle of allies, and escalating actions.

We have the power to succeed because we are not alone. Like professors at the University of Wisconsin battling Governor Walker's austerity agenda, or teachers in Chicago who went on strike to defend their public schools against Mayor Rahm Emanuel's school closings, we are facing a tough fight. But as we have learned from Chicago and Wisconsin, our best chance for prevailing is to show that the demand for decent conditions and salaries for teachers is a fight for more than ourselves. It's a fight for the meaning of public education, for the people of the whole city and state.

But it starts with us. Allies will join us if they see us wholly engaged in the fight. It is a fight for our own professional lives. Sign up here to signal your commitment. Everything starts at the emergency union meeting on your campus, where we will begin to organize ourselves, department by department and office by office, for the campaign ahead.

Organize we must if we want anything other than continued stalling by Milliken and the CUNY Board. Six years is appalling, inexcusable. CUNY's excuses must stop now. And we can make that happen.

In solidarity,
Barbara Bowen
President, PSC

No Contract for Five Years. No Raises for Six

No more excuses!
A new level of resistance starts now.

The PSC, the faculty and staff union at CUNY, is fighting back. We have justice on our side and we can win.

We refuse to stand by while the quality of education for CUNY students is put at risk. We refuse to accept the failure to provide decent raises and back-pay.

We are all in this fight together—and there is a lot at stake.

HERE IS THE PLAN FOR THE FALL:

September: PSC union meeting on your campus: check overleaf for time and place. Come to be part of shaping the campaign on your campus.

October 1: Wake-up Call for Chancellor Milliken—
demonstration at Milliken’s expensive Manhattan apartment on the morning of the first CUNY Board meeting of the year.

October 19-30: Teach-In, Teach-Out, Teach CUNY on CUNY campuses—two weeks of local actions and activist curriculum.

November 4: Disruptive Mass Action

November 19: Mass Meeting of PSC

Throughout the Fall Semester: Free union training sessions on non-violent disruptive protest—learn tactics for street protest, picket lines, civil disobedience and more.

Demands

Demands for the new contract were approved at a November 4, 2010 Delegate Assembly meeting. The full text of the demands, and coverage of the DA, are available here as a special supplement of the December 2010 Clarion.

Agreements

More in This Section

A Letter From Barbara Bowen: A New Level of Resistance Starts Now

August 27, 2015

Dear PSC Members,

Today is the first day of the new academic year at most CUNY colleges, and I'm sure you are eager to hear whether there has been progress on the contract. The news is not good: after more than a year in office, Chancellor Milliken has failed to offer a single dollar for raises or back-pay. He appears to be content to allow the CUNY faculty and staff to go six years without a raise—while collecting a $670,000 salary himself. We have all been patient long enough. Starting on this first day of the new academic year, the union will accept no more excuses.

Escalation
The union's executive council has spent the summer building alliances and developing a plan to create enough pressure to force a resolution on our contract. At the same time, the PSC has been pressing the Cuomo Administration to provide the necessary funding. We have planned an escalating series of actions that begins with emergency campus meetings, includes a demonstration at Milliken's apartment, and builds toward a mass public disruption later in the fall. If the contract is still not resolved, we are prepared to escalate further.... Read the full letter

A New Level of Resistance Starts Now

No contract for five years. No raises for six.

No more excuses!

A new level of resistance starts now.

The faculty and staff at CUNY are tired of excuses. Yes, Chancellor Milliken was new last year. And yes, until this summer contracts for other public employees in New York City were still being settled.

But now the PSC, the union of CUNY faculty and staff, is practically the only union of public employees in New York State without a contract and without a raise since 2009.

Our Bill Passed!

Thank you, PSC members! The bill on future funding for CUNY passed in the NYS Senate the evening of June 18. There is no doubt that the reason it moved out of committee and onto the Senate floor for a full vote was that the PSC, together with our allies, gave it a strong final push. You sent 6,407 messages to the Senate just in the past six days.

Elected Officials Call for PSC-CUNY Contract Funding

Lawmakers are speaking out in support of CUNY faculty and staff because they understand that five years without a raise hurts CUNY students.

More CUNY Alumni Featured in Contract Campaign Radio Ads

The PSC’s new series of radio ads supporting the contract campaign expands this week to networks in New York City and Albany. Two new alumni are featured as well. A teacher, an IT expert, a medical student, a PhD student and a veterinary technician, speak in the ads about the professors who mentored them. “CUNY professors help New Yorkers reinvent their lives,” the ads say. “The next generation deserves the same opportunity. It won’t be there unless Albany invests in the City University of New York.” Listen below.

PSC Makes Salary Proposal

A message from President Barbara Bowen
May 20, 2015

At the contract negotiating session last week, the union presented an economic proposal for annual salary increases.

Contract Fight Broadens to Build Student Support

Five years without a contractual raise and four without a contract is absurd, insulting and destructive. CUNY management’s failure to deliver on a contract hurts CUNY students, too, by damaging the University’s competitiveness and stalling progress on changes that would protect the quality of education. We may need the whole community in this fight; it’s time to take our message directly to students.

Hundreds March to Demand Contract Progress

Hundreds of PSC members turned out Tuesday, March 31 for a rainy but spirited protest outside Hunter College to demand that CUNY management must stop stalling at the bargaining table.

Urgent Contract Action

Funding for our contract may depend on budget negotiations taking place right now in Albany. We all need to send letters! Click here to send yours.

11,000 PSC Members Call for Action on the Contract

PSC officers were in Albany again Thursday, March 19 urging legislators to fund retroactive pay increases for PSC members.

PSC’s Contract-Focused Radio Ad Says: "It's Time for Albany to Believe in CUNY"

CUNY is a national leader in community college education—but the professors and advisors of CUNY are being denied a fair union contract. That's the message of the latest PSC radio ad, which is airing this week in the Capital District and New York City.

Contract Demands Voiced at Brooklyn Hearing

Dozens of CUNY faculty and staff turned out to leaflet and testify about the PSC’s contract demands at a CUNY Board of Trustees hearing held at Brooklyn Borough Hall last night (Feb. 17).

PSC & CUNY to Albany: Fund A Contract with Raises!

PSC President Barbara Bowen and CUNY Chancellor J.B. Milliken both testified about the need for Albany to fund a PSC-CUNY Contract with retroactive raises at a State budget hearing held yesterday in Albany.

Hundreds Call and Email Trustees during PSC’s Virtual Mass Action

Hundreds of CUNY faculty and staff took part yesterday in the PSC’s Virtual Mass Action to press Chancellor Milliken and the Board of Trustees for a fair economic offer.

9,000+ Have Signed the Contract Petition

Add Your Name by the Feb. 17 Deadline

Last fall thousands of CUNY faculty and staff signed the contract petition to demand action on our contract by the City and State.

PSC Voices Rise at CUNY Board Hearing

The University Budget Must Fund a Fair Contract

Chancellor Milliken and the CUNY Board of Trustees heard from 30 rank-and-file union members and officers at the Board’s annual budget hearing at Baruch College on November 24, 2014.

Mass Rally and March, Tues., Oct 21.

CUNY contracts are negotiated at the bargaining table, but won on the ground. And we need to keep up the pressure on CUNY and the State and City officials who approve our contracts. That's why hundreds of CUNY faculty and professional staff rallied and marched on Tuesday, October 21st.

Contract Demonstration at Board of Trustees, Sept. 29

Sights and sounds from the demonstration are collected in the above slideshow from the PSC and

President Bowen's Sept. 29 Letter to the Board of Trustees

President Bowen delivered this letter to the Trustees during the PSC demonstration at the Sept. 29 CUNY Board meeting.

Why Our Budget and Contract Campaigns are so Intertwined.

Contracts are negotiated at the bargaining table, but won on the ground. That means mobilizing our colleagues on every campus, in our departments and in our everyday interactions. But in an era of budget shortfalls and attacks on public workers, that ground operation, while beginning on our campuses, must extend its power to Albany and City Hall.

Q and A: What’s Going On in Contract Talks?

The PSC and CUNY management have made some progress in contract talks. But CUNY has not yet put forward an economic offer, and union negotiators are pressing management to do so.

Members testify about the need for a fair contract -- Nov. 24, 2014

The University Budget Must Fund a Fair Contract
Chancellor Milliken and the CUNY Board of Trustees heard from 30 rank-and-file union members and officers at the Board’s annual budget hearing at Baruch College on November 24, 2014. The members testified about the CUNY Budget Request for 2014-2015 and its connection to a fair PSC-CUNY contract. Together, they made the case for increased salaries at every level and offered unforgettable images of the damage unmanageable workloads can inflict on CUNY students, faculty and staff.

Mass Rally and March -- Oct. 21, 2014

CUNY contracts are negotiated at the bargaining table, but won on the ground. And we need to keep up the pressure on CUNY and the State and City officials who approve our contracts. That's why hundreds of CUNY faculty and professional staff rallied and marched...

Thank you, PSC!

A message from President Barbara Bowen--Sept. 30

Close to 1,000 members came out for yesterday’s contract demonstration at the Board of Trustees. Thank you for your beautiful response to the union's call. It was a spirited, inspiring event. The huge turnout speaks for itself: our numbers are the best testimony to the intensity of our demand that the CUNY administration act now to resolve the contract.

President Bowen's Letter to the Board of Trustees -- Sept. 29, 2014

President Bowen delivered this letter to the Trustees during the PSC demonstration at the Sept. 29 CUNY Board meeting. In it, she says negotiations “cannot advance without money on the table.” She demands “an economic offer that recognizes the quality and importance of the work we do.”

Contract Demonstration at Board of Trustees -- Sept.29, 2014

Sights and sounds from the demonstration are collected in the above slideshow from the PSC and a video from The Chief Leader. Check them out.

Close to 1,000 members came out for a contract demonstration at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, September 29. In a message sent to PSC members Tuesday, September 30, PSC President Barbara Bowen called the turnout a “beautiful response to the union's call.” “Our numbers,” she said, “are the best testimony to the intensity of our demand that the CUNY administration act now to resolve the contract.” A letter that Bowen delivered to the trustees at the meeting is posted here. In it, President Bowen says negotiations “cannot advance without money on the table.” She demands “an economic offer that recognizes the quality and importance of the work we do.”

Contract Bargaining Update--August 29, 2014

Message from President Barbara Bowen

Dear Colleague:

This week marks the start of the new academic year, and I want to take the occasion both to wish you well for the year and to bring you up to date on contract negotiations.

Serious negotiations for a new PSC contract began on June 20, when PSC and CUNY bargaining teams met to exchange demands.

Contract Bargaining Update--August 11, 2014

Momentum is growing in negotiations for a new contract, with two formal bargaining sessions and several subcommittee meetings held during the last month. Both PSC and CUNY management representatives have expressed a commitment to reaching a settlement as expeditiously as possible, given that several other public-employee unions in the city have already completed bargaining.

Clarion Masthead

PSC and CUNY Reach Other Agreements

By Peter Hogness

While progress on an overall PSC-CUNY contract was stalled by the Bloomberg-era freeze in municipal labor relations, PSC and CUNY management negotiators were not idle. The union made significant gains in benefits and working conditions.

Contract Bargaining Update--June 2014

Collective bargaining for a new PSC contract began in earnest last Friday, June 20th. The negotiating teams for the union and CUNY management met for about three hours, and made a good start on what promise to be intense negotiations during the summer. The sides exchanged demands and discussed ground rules for further sessions. One thing established immediately was that the union has the right to bring observers and faculty/staff experts to future bargaining sessions. Read the full update.

Clarion Masthead

Getting a New Contract: A Letter to PSC Members

By Barbara Bowen

PSC is fighting for a 'fair and a progressive contract' that may be negotiated in the coming months. PSC President Barbara Bowen says now is the time to build a united and collective voice for the best possible contract.

PSC and CUNY Finalize Agreement on Enhanced PSC-CUNY Awards--Feb. 2014

February 27, 2014

Dr. Barbara Bowen
President
Professional Staff Congress/CUNY
61 Broadway, Suite 1500
New York, NY 10006

Dear Dr. Bowen:

This letter will confirm the parties' agreement regarding modification of Articles 25.1 and 25.2 of the 2007-

No More 24: Agreement on Teaching Load--Sept. 2013

Joint Announcement of City Tech Agreement

We are pleased to announce that the City University of New York and the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY have reached agreement on aligning the teaching load at New York City College of Technology with that of other comprehensive and four-year CUNY colleges. Starting with the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year, Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors at “City Tech,” as the college is universally known, will be responsible for the same contractual teaching load as their counterparts at CUNY's other four-year colleges.

Images from the No Austerity Contract! No Austerity Education! Rally--Sept. 2013

Two hundred PSC members joined a union rally at the CUNY Board of Trustees meeting at Baruch College Monday, September 30. Faculty and staff demonstrated inside the Board meeting and in the street outside Baruch to reiterate the union’s refusal to accept an austerity contract for its members or an austerity education for CUNY students. A fair contract, quality education for CUNY students and action in response to the 92% No Confidence in Pathways vote were the union’s demands of the CUNY Board.

Fair Contracts for All Rally--June 2013

The contracts for all of New York City’s municipal unions have expired for the first time since the fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s. On Wednesday, June 12, PSC members joined thousands of city workers in rallying outside City Hall to demand that the next mayor negotiate fair contracts with them. See a slide show of photos from the rally.

Phased Retirement Pilot Program Announced--June 2013

Next Deadline is June 7

PSC has reached agreement with CUNY on a three-year pilot program of Phased Retirement for full-time instructional staff who participate in the Optional Retirement Plan and are at least 65 years old. Instructional staff members interested in participating in the program starting Fall 2013 must express interest in doing so by submitting a notice of intent to their department chair/supervisor by May 15. Interested instructional staff must work with their department chair/supervisor to decide on a mutually agreeable “phased” workload configuration. A formal application must be submitted by June 7.

Paid Parental Leave Made Permanent--Dec. 2011

An agreement between the PSC and CUNY means that funding for this benefit will continue past December 31. Across CUNY, parents-to-be welcomed the news.

Parents and children who took advantage of the leave benefit at a celebration at the PSC Union Hall.
ParentalLvParty102409.jpg

Bargaining Begins on New Contract--Jan. 2011

On Wednesday, January 26th the PSC bargaining team met with CUNY management to begin negotiating a new successor agreement to the contract that expired on October 19, 2010.

PSC DA Sets Bargaining Agenda--Nov. 2010

In a packed meeting attended by more than 200 people 0n 11/4/10, the PSC Delegate Assembly voted on Nov. 4 to adopt a bargaining agenda for negotiations on a new contract.

Committee of 1000

Imagine a committee with only one goal – to improve your life at work – with an agenda developed by the faculty and staff (not the college president or the chancellor’s office), with only one meeting per semester and hundreds of members to share the work, and with a serious chance of wielding power within the University and beyond – wouldn’t you want to be part of it? That’s what we are asking you to do: join the Committee of 1000.

Dedicated Sick Leave Agreement--April 2010

The PSC and CUNY have negotiated a Dedicated Sick Leave program allowing eligible participants to donate and receive sick days in cases of serious injury or illness.