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RF Field Units FAQ

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A PSC MEMBER?

You gain the right to vote in union elections and contract ratifications, to run for a union leadership position, and to have a formal role in the policy and direction of your union.

You can check whether you’re already a member or receive a PSC membership application card by calling the PSC membership department (212-354-1252) or email Denyse Procope-Gregoire, [email protected].

To join the union online, go to https://www.psc-cuny.org/join-psc.

WHAT IS THE DUES STRUCTURE?

Full-Time Dues

Members – 1.05% of total gross earnings

Part-Time Dues

Members – 1% of total gross earnings

Retiree Dues

As of Sept. 1, 2019, $85.00 for retirees from full-time positions, $40.00 for retirees from part-time positions. (If you join between October and August your dues will be prorated. Please call the PSC Membership Department at 212-354-1252 for the dues amount.)

*Under the Janus decision, public sector CUNY employees no longer pay agency fees. Research Foundation employees are private sector employees and are still responsible for payment of agency fees. The agency fees are the same as the dues rate, but once a year the employee has the right to request a refund of the small portion of the agency fees that are not used for contract negotiation and enforcement.

WHAT IS AN AGENCY (SHOP) FEE?

An agency shop is a workplace in which the employer may hire union or non-union workers, and employees need not join the union in order to remain employed.. However, the non-union worker must pay a fee to cover collective bargaining costs as well as the other costs the Union incurs on your behalf in the continuing struggle to improve your working conditions and job security. The fee paid by non-union members under the agency shop is known as the agency fee.

Because the Research Foundation is a private employer, the agency fee remains in effect, unlike for the public-sector CUNY unit. Paying for your union representation is not optional. It is a condition of your employment.

There is NO benefit to you to pay the agency fee and not sign a membership card! It is to your advantage to be able to fully participate in the union and vote on contracts.

If you have any questions about your membership rights, contact the PSC membership department at 212-354-1252 or [email protected]

HOW DO THE RF FIELD UNITS RELATE TO THE PSC IN GENERAL?

The Research Foundation of The City University of New York (RFCUNY) was established as a not-for-profit educational corporation chartered by the State of New York in 1963. RFCUNY supports CUNY faculty and staff in identifying and obtaining external support (pre-award) from government and private sponsors and is responsible for the administration of all such funded programs (post-award).

CUNY, the other employer of PSC members, is in the public sector. The units associated with CUNY are referred to as the tax levy units. By contrast, the Research Foundation is considered a private employer. The courts have ruled that CUNY and RFCUNY are legally separate entities. Due to this difference, RF Field Units and RF Central Units negotiate their contracts directly with the Research Foundation, not CUNY.

While the RF Field Units cannot join with the public sector PSC unit in contract negotiations, we can unite and support each other to work on non-contractual shared concerns involving funding, health and safety, bullying, and similar issues across the three RF organized campuses (CityTech, LaGuardia, and Graduate Center) and the RF Central Office.

HOW LONG ARE OUR CONTRACTS?

The length of each contract is subject to negotiations. The current contract is for three years and is in effect from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2024.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN OUR CONTRACT EXPIRES?

In fall of the year preceding contract expiration, the RF Field Units chapter sends out a survey to members to identify the most pressing concerns and solicits feedback at chapter meetings. Members are encouraged to take part in the contract bargaining committee to determine a set of prioritized demands to be formally presented to RF management by the PSC bargaining team. The bargaining committee continues to meet during negotiations, to react to management’s proposals and strategize. During this time, members pressure management in various ways to show that the bargaining team speaks for the entire unit.

When the bargaining committee decides that the proposed contract settlement is the best they can do given the strength of the membership, the contract is submitted to the PSC’s Executive Council and Delegate Assembly, who will vote on whether to recommend ratification. If the union’s elected leadership recommends ratification, the contract is sent to the members of the bargaining unit for a vote. If the membership accepts the contract, it ordinarily goes into effect upon the expiration of the previous contract. The length of the contract term is subject to negotiations. If the membership rejects the contract, they can vote to go on strike or otherwise attempt to pressure management to return to the table. Failing that, management can declare impasse and unilaterally implement the contract.

WHAT DOES THE CONTRACT COVER?

The contract is the primary source of your rights on the job. It covers a broad range of rights, benefits, and working conditions: salaries, leaves and holidays, due process rights, and health and pension benefits. Contracts for each of the organized campuses are available at https://www.psc-cuny.org/rf-field-unit-contracts.

WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS?

You have contract-based rights (see previous section). You also have rights under law, including:

  • Union representation and collective bargaining
  • Right to union representation during  meetings that could lead to discipline
  • Wage and hour laws
  • Health and safety laws
  • Civil rights laws

For details, see https://psc-cuny.org/rights/rights-under-law.

WHAT ARE MY BENEFITS?

The benefits PSC members receive—from healthcare and pension benefits to professional development grants to disability and accidental death and dismemberment insurance—are paid for by contributions from our employer, RFCUNY. Those contributions are negotiated during bargaining as part of members’ compensation. Maintaining and improving benefits is thus part of the union’s contract campaign during negotiations, and an important reason for members to get involved in the contract campaign.

The benefits listed at https://psc-cuny.org/benefits are specific to the tax levy units. RF employees have a separate benefit structure. Information on benefits is available on the RF website. You will need to use your employee ID and password to log in. Then go to the tab Employees and choose Explore and Enroll in Employee Benefits.

https://www.rfcuny.org/rfwebsite/employees/explore-enroll-in-employee-benefits/.

Benefits may be elected during the open enrollment period in late fall, usually November. Not all benefits are available to all employees.

WHAT IS THE COMPLAINT AND GRIEVANCE PROCESS?

Complaints, grievances, and arbitration procedures are covered in Article 14 of the contract. Complaints are defined as improper/unfair treatment that may or may not be violations of the contract. Examples are bullying, unreasonable denial of requests to use annual leave, or failure to provide a safe work environment. Grievances are violations of the contract.  Both must be brought to a PSC representative who will bring the issue to management as specified in the contract.  An issue that is grievable may first be brought as a complaint in an effort to resolve the matter informally, but in all cases grievances must be filed within 30 working days of the event giving rise to the grievance.

See https://www.psc-cuny.org/rf-field-unit-contracts.

WHAT ARE LABOR/MANAGEMENT MEETINGS?

Labor/Management meetings provide a forum for the union and management to discuss issues of concern to either party in an effort to improve some aspect of the work environment. The contract provides for meetings on a quarterly basis. Labor/management meetings can be used to address issues with contract compliance or issues that are outside the scope of the contract. Feel free at any time to contact your chapter leadership with ideas for issues to address in labor/management meetings.

WHAT SUCCESSES HAS THE PSC HAD IN HANDLING GRIEVANCES AND LABOR MANAGEMENT ISSUES FOR RF FIELD UNITS?

Among other successes, the PSC has successfully defended members’ right to receive back pay, to receive pay increases on time, and to use or carry over annual leave. Most issues are resolved without having to file a formal grievance.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES THE PSC IS INVOLVED IN OVERALL?

Major initiatives the PSC committees and groups are currently working on include:

  • COVID-19 and safe working conditions
  • Full public funding for CUNY/pushback against austerity
  • Anti-bullying
  • Social safety net
  • Environmental justice

Read more at https://psc-cuny.org/issues.


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Union Week December 5-9, 2022