The members of the PSC join in relief and somber celebration of today’s guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin. We extend our solidarity to the family and community of George Floyd, to the anti-racist activists who held the Minneapolis square where he was murdered for more than a year, to the millions of people who rose up to demand justice, and to the brave witnesses and members of the jury who rendered the verdict. We also renew our commitment to each other and our students in this complicated moment; even the emphatic statement of Chauvin’s guilt cannot undo the trauma of witnessing George Floyd’s murder and recalling all the murders of Black people that did not end in conviction.
Today’s verdict was rendered in a single Minneapolis courtroom, but it would have been impossible without a mass movement. The rising up of millions of Black people, working-class people and their allies around the world, many of whom put their own lives and health at risk to participate, and all of whom built on a centuries-long struggle, made today’s verdict thinkable despite systemic racism. But to make such a verdict routine—and to end the state-sanctioned violence against Black people the case epitomized—will take an even more powerful movement.
It is impossible to underestimate the profound meaning of today’s verdict, in this country founded on genocide and racial violence. But it is a verdict that never should have been in doubt, in a case that never should have happened. The conviction of murderer Derek Chauvin cannot bring justice to George Floyd, nor can it bring justice to Emmett Till, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham or the thousands of other victims of murderous racism. But it can and it does give us hope, as educators, trade unionists and anti-racists, that we will be able to create a world in which Black people and other oppressed people will one day be able to breathe.
In February, PSC members waged an intense two-week campaign in response to the CUNY chancellor’s decision to ignore the contract and refuse to pay equity increases to 2,500 colleagues in lower-paid full-time positions—Assistant to HEO and Lecturer titles. Hours before a planned demonstration in front of his suburban home, Chancellor Matos Rodríguez reversed his decision and signed an agreement with the union for payment of the increases as lump sums instead of as raises spread over the course of a year. The agreement required CUNY to expedite their request for payment of the increases by the City and State so that members could receive the money as soon as possible.
CUNY has informed the PSC that both the $1,000 lump sum payment to Assistants to HEO and the $1,500 lump sum payment to faculty in full-time Lecturer titles (which include CLIP and CUNY Start Instructors) will be paid on the pay dates of 4/22/21 for senior college employees and 4/30/21 for community college employees.
Statement on the FY2022 New York State Budget for CUNY
Barbara Bowen, President, Professional Staff Congress/CUNY
“The CUNY faculty and staff represented by the PSC are delighted to see important gains for CUNY in the budget agreement reached yesterday. The FY 2022 budget rejects every cut proposed by the governor, increases the maximum TAP award by $500, commits to closing the TAP Gap within the following three years, adds funding for opportunity programs, stabilizes support for community colleges hit by losses in enrollment this year, adds capital funds to fix CUNY buildings, and freezes undergraduate tuition.
“We thank the members of the Legislature who responded to the thousands of PSC members, CUNY students and allies who urged New York to break with decades of planned poverty for CUNY. All of us who support a New Deal for CUNY are right to claim these steps as victories. We applaud the progressive legislators who led the fight for them and the entire Legislature for their support.
“But in a year that cried out for bold investment in public higher education and an end to racist austerity for the Black and brown communities CUNY serves, Albany missed the opportunity to pass a transformative budget for CUNY. Rejecting a tuition increase without adding the funds to replace the lost revenue will ultimately undermine the quality of education CUNY can offer. CUNY needs investment on a larger scale if it is to recover from decades of underfunding and realize its potential for the people of New York. A fully funded CUNY would be a linchpin of a recovery that not only rebuilds New York, but reimagines it.