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Home » Clarion » 2018 » March 2018 » Why a vote for New Caucus matters in an uncontested election

Why a vote for New Caucus matters in an uncontested election

The 2018 union-wide election takes place against an ominous political backdrop. More than ever, we need to defend and expand union power.
The New Caucus has been in the leadership of the PSC since 2000. Current new Caucus leaders Barbara Bowen, Michael Fabricant, Sharon Persinger and Nivedita Majumdar have worked with other New Caucus activists and thousands of PSC members to make our union one of the most effective and progressive in the country.

We ask for your vote in the election this spring. Your vote matters, especially now.

On February 26, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case deftly orchestrated and financed by right-wing organizations with one purpose – to destroy the political and economic power of public-sector unions like the PSC.

The case is the culmination of 20 years of attacks on working people, people of color and progressive movements. Its ultimate aim is to roll back all the gains made by these groups and to create a political climate in which further gains will be impossible.

The Janus case occurs in a climate of manufactured austerity (turbocharged by the GOP tax bill) that threatens funding for a wide range of federal, state and local programs, including public higher education. CUNY – like many public resources that primarily serve working people and the poor – is in peril of continued underfunding.

As the labor movement faces a defining moment in its history, a ballot cast for the New Caucus affirms your commitment to a fighting union.

A resounding vote for the New Caucus empowers the PSC as it negotiates a new contract and mobilizes for more state and city funding for CUNY.

Who We Are

We are the current leadership caucus, presenting a slate of candidates that includes veteran leaders, many new faces, and experience and energy across several generations. We represent every campus and every worksite within CUNY. Our candidates are drawn from senior and community colleges, staff and faculty, full-time and part-time CUNY workers.

The New Caucus was founded in 1995, built from the ground up, chapter by chapter. In 2000, we won the top leadership posts of the PSC.

What we brought to those early victories and have brought to every union campaign since is a belief in CUNY’s 1847 founding vision – of top-quality college education for “the children of the people, the children of whole people.” Drawing on CUNY’s historic and contemporary diversity as a strength, we have built our collective power to win better working conditions for ourselves and better learning conditions for our students by engaging thousands of CUNY faculty and staff in the life of the union.

The New Caucus has refused to accept austerity for CUNY. While successive chancellors and trustees have seen their role as accommodating to fiscal scarcity, the PSC under New Caucus leadership has been the unwavering voice for an alternative vision. We maintain that the underfunding of CUNY is the result of political and economic policy decisions, not of inevitable trends, and that those policy decisions can be changed.

Two years ago we beat back the governor’s proposed $485 million cut to state funding for CUNY, and last year, in a period of widespread concessionary contracts, we won a contract that brought back pay, raises, three-year appointments for adjuncts, an agreement on reducing the teaching load and more.

Under New Caucus leadership, the PSC has joined in coalitions with labor, student, community, faith-based and progressive organizations. We understand that labor unions are at their most powerful when they represent the interests and aspirations of all working people and that alliances increase our strength. Working with CUNY Rising and other coalitions has made a measurable difference in the PSC’s ability to fight for CUNY funding needs and to defend individual members’ salaries, benefits and rights.

We have approached contract negotiations as an arena in which to challenge and transform austerity conditions for faculty, staff and even students at CUNY.

Here is a partial list of our 18-year record of accomplishments:

  • Negotiated a three-credit reduction in teaching load for full-time faculty, to be phased in by 2020.
  • Won the first paid parental leave benefit for public employees in New York State.
  • Defended the 35-hour workweek for HEOs and won rights to overtime pay and compensatory time.
  • Won a 12-year battle for health insurance for eligible adjuncts.
  • Won graduate employee health insurance.
  • Enhanced member benefits for dental, vision and hearing care, and restored the finances of the Welfare Fund.
  • Negotiated equity increases for CLTs.
  • Won full-paid reassigned time for research for junior faculty.
  • Increased sabbatical pay from 50 percent to 80 percent.
  • Achieved the first multiyear appointments for teaching adjuncts at CUNY, including a provision for guaranteed income.
  • Implemented dedicated sick leave, a sick leave bank and a provision for phased retirement.
  • Gained increased annual leave for faculty counselors and librarians.
  • Established an additional salary differential for HEOs at the top of their salary schedules.
  • Won salary differentials for CLTs and eligible HEOs with advanced academic degrees.
  • Created professional development grants for teaching adjuncts, Continuing Ed faculty and professional staff.
  • Worked with management to move more than 200 part-time faculty to full-time positions.
  • Bargained four contracts with salary and benefit gains through two economic downturns and state- and city-imposed austerity.
  • Won paid office hours for eligible teaching adjuncts.
  • Won and ratified the first contract ever for Research Foundation Field Units and negotiated a new RF Central Office contract with enhanced benefits and salaries.
  • Protected and enlarged the health and welfare fund benefits of retirees.

These were collective achievements, advanced by research, persistence and skillful negotiating, but ultimately powered by the agency of wider and wider circles of membership in the political arena, in the streets and, when necessary, in strike authorization votes. Activating the cumulative knowledge, energy and experience of PSC members has made a huge difference for our union, our university and our students.

The New Caucus has amplified the voice of the PSC, not only at the bargaining table, but in Albany, at City Hall and in the larger labor and progressive movements – contesting austerity budgets, advocating for immigrant students, opposing racism, defending academic freedom, moving our national affiliates to oppose an unjust war in Iraq, taking principled stands on elections for political office, protecting teacher-preparation programs against the testing regime, marching as the largest labor contingent in the massive People’s Climate March in 2014, supporting other workers in struggle and on strike – and much more.

A vote for the New Caucus means a vote for a robust, engaged union in the age of Janus.


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