We need your vote for the New Caucus, the caucus of the PSC’s current leadership – even though this is an uncontested election. You might ask why.
Why Does Voting Matter?
Unions nationally are under fierce, well-financed, reactionary attack, and our own union is in the midst of one of its toughest battles ever. Your vote for the New Caucus slate, led by Barbara Bowen, will signal support for the PSC’s agenda of resistance to economic austerity. It will send the message that you stand with your union in the campaign for a good contract. A strong show of support in an uncontested election is an eloquent statement to CUNY management, the City and the State about union support. A resounding New Caucus vote will broadcast that the PSC membership is united in pursuit of a good contract; it will give the union power as we hold firm for salary increases, retroactive pay and enhanced teaching and learning conditions.
Vote in the union election, and vote New Caucus. Your vote will empower your union during one of the hardest political struggles in the union’s history.
If you are among the thousands of CUNY faculty and staff who have participated in the campaign for a just contract – or in other union campaigns, such as the continuing fight against Pathways – think of your vote in the election in April as an additional way to build the union’s power. If you are one of the minority of faculty and staff who have not yet signed a petition or come to a demonstration or testified to the CUNY trustees, start being active now and cast your vote.
What We Stand For
The New Caucus stands for the belief that CUNY is worth fighting for. We believe that the University’s radical founding dream – of a college education for “the children of the people, the children of the whole people” – is as important now as it was in 1847. And we believe that the faculty and staff union has a critical part to play in achieving that goal. Our working conditions are literally our students’ learning conditions. Fueled by those beliefs, the New Caucus has stood tall against efforts to degrade the quality of education at CUNY; we have built a union in which thousands of members are active; we have lived democratic principles and financial transparency; and we have been a leading force in the opposition to austerity budgets and policies.
These are hard fights, and we cannot win them alone, but the PSC under New Caucus leadership has developed a national reputation for backbone, energy and the ability to wage a smart, strategic fight. From Wisconsin to Kentucky to California to Illinois, labor rights, tenure, academic freedom and professional autonomy are under attack. A vote for the New Caucus is a vote to strengthen the PSC’s position against similar assaults close to home.
As candidates proud to seek union office in a team led by Barbara Bowen, Mike Fabricant and other experienced PSC activists, we ask for your vote. All you have to do to vote New Caucus is open the envelope when it arrives in your home mail in early April, mark the ballot for the New Caucus slate and return your ballot in the envelope provided.
This election matters; we ask you to vote New Caucus.
Who We Are
If you read the short biographies of the New Caucus candidates for Executive Council in the following pages, you will see that we are a diverse group representing almost every CUNY college. We offer a rich combination of experience and change. The slate is led by current PSC president Barbara Bowen and treasurer Mike Fabricant, and introduces two powerful new faculty members, Nivedita Majumdar and Sharon Persinger, in principal officer positions. (Steve London and Arthurine DeSola have decided to return to their CUNY positions.) Our experience is deep and wide. We include prominent research faculty and dedicated professional staff, adjuncts who have devoted years of underpaid labor to CUNY students, and emerging faculty leaders.
What unites us is a belief that CUNY is contested political terrain, and that by using the collective power of CUNY’s 27,000 faculty and staff we can win that terrain, or at least change its contours. The New Caucus was founded in 1995 in response to a university that had still not emerged from the disproportionate, racially inflected budget cuts it suffered during the 1975 NYC fiscal crisis. The New Caucus offered a new analysis of the conditions at CUNY, a new commitment to changing those conditions, and a new strategy of drawing on the collective, organized power of the union membership.
Now, after 15 years in union office, the New Caucus leadership of the PSC is known as a force to be reckoned with at the bargaining table, with CUNY management, in Albany and in Ci
ty Hall. We have turned around the decline in full-time faculty numbers and substantially improved conditions for adjuncts and professional staff. The PSC is welcomed in national policy debates and is respected as one of the most progressive unions in the country. We were among the first unions to call for labor opposition to the war in Iraq, among the first to recognize the importance of Occupy Wall Street and one of the most consistent in our demand for racial justice in the streets and classrooms of New York City.
The New Caucus combination of analysis, vision and organizing gets material results. Every one of the gains highlighted below arose from the same commitment: CUNY should not always be poor; substandard conditions are not good enough for our students or for us. Our results include:
- increase in sabbatical pay from 50% to 80%
- health insurance, dental and optical benefits for adjuncts
- health insurance for graduate employees
- salary increases throughout the last three contracts
- full-paid released time for junior faculty
- professional development grants for adjuncts, HEOs and CLTs
- salary differentials for CLTs and aHEOs with advanced degrees
- paid office hours for adjuncts
- workload equity at City Tech and CSI
- access to health insurance with no monthly premium
- defense of teacher-preparation programs against the testing regime
- development of significant electoral power, notably in our influential endorsement of Mayor Bill de Blasio
More To Do
The New Caucus is proud of our record, but we know how much is still to be done. Our vision for CUNY and higher education is far from realized. Uppermost in all our minds is the fight for a fair contract. And we are in the fight of our lives.
We are up against powerful financial and political interests determined to impose economic and educational austerity. Five years is an unconscionable period of time to work without a contractual raise. If University management is serious about quality education, they must find a way to provide salary increases at all levels, retroactive pay, gains in protections and promotion and a real initiative to reduce the teaching load. CUNY management must accept responsibility for putting an economic offer on the table. It is offensive that a university would allow the chancellor’s salary to increase by 49% since 2009, when faculty and staff contractual increases during that period have been 0%.
The New Caucus leadership will fight with every resource we have until a fair contract is reached. We will continue to join students and other allies to demand a reordering of priorities. The New Caucus has developed a strategy to rebuild higher education as a public good. And we have always started by addressing the conditions – economic and professional – of our own lives.
The New Caucus leadership promises that we will use everything we have learned in our collective experience to organize for a workplace and a university worthy of our aspirations. This is a harsh political moment, but after 15 years in office, thousands have joined the PSC effort, and we are fighting harder and smarter than ever.
Support us. Join us. Vote New Caucus.