A wave of protest from PSC members won changes to the administration’s proposed amendments to City University Bylaws, changes that would have sharply curtailed the rights of CUNY faculty and staff. But significant problems remain in the most recent drafts, and the union is asking the Board of Trustees to postpone its scheduled September vote on the plan.
“We are pleased that CUNY management was responsive to some of our concerns,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen. “Real changes have been made, but several remaining elements would still damage the rights of faculty and staff. There is no reason to rush the trustees’ vote – discussions should continue.”
In a May 20 letter to CUNY, Bowen wrote that the amendments would “eliminate almost every bylaw provision the PSC has cited in defending our members’ rights.” The package of amendments eliminated job descriptions for most positions in the PSC bargaining unit, and created new positions like “Affiliated Professional” with no description of duties or qualifications. College presidents were given the power to remove any member of a departmental Personnel & Budget committee (P&B). Provisions on retrenchment procedures were deleted, and bylaw provisions on academic due process were also removed.
The PSC sent out an e-mail alert to members on May 24—and by the end of the day close to 1,000 people had signed an online petition protesting the proposed amendments. That same day, CUNY management agreed to reschedule the vote from June 27 to a later time.
After meeting with PSC leadership, management offered substantive changes on several points. For example, the union had objected that eliminating job descriptions from the Bylaws could undermine the union’s ability to file a grievance if someone is forced to do work that has nothing to do with his or her job. Now the administration is proposing language that is aimed at preserving the union’s ability to file such grievances to protect the integrity of job titles.
“We still have some concerns with the language used in the current version of these amendments,” said PSC Director of Legal Affairs Peter Zwiebach. “But we are glad management has responded seriously to the union’s critique.” Another example, Zwiebach said, is on procedures for retrenchment, where new language “meets many of our concerns.”
But on other points, there has been no progress. In several problematic amendments, management has not changed a word. If the current amendments are adopted, union leaders say, they would still harm the University and those who work here.
In May the PSC noted that for the trustees to act on the proposal at their June 27 meeting, as originally planned, “would have the appearance, at least, of attempting to limit participation in discussion and opportunity for dissent by CUNY’s faculty, staff and students.” The union therefore asked that the vote be postponed “until mid-Fall.”
CUNY management subsequently postponed the vote until September – but it has still not made the text of the proposed changes publicly available. “While the PSC has intervened to protect the rights of faculty and staff, it is essential that all employees be able to read the amendments for themselves,” Bowen said.
“Given that there are still problems with the proposed amendments, that the text of the changes has not yet been made public, and that discussion so far has made progress, there is no reason to rush to a vote in September,” she told Clarion. “The trustees should reschedule the vote to their November meeting.”