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Home » Clarion » 2019 » November 2019 » Contract questions and answers

Contract questions and answers

Raises for all, and equity

Michael Spear and the rest of the bargaining team explained the contract during a Special DA in November

1. If the proposed contract is ratified, how much would my salary increase?

Salary and hourly rates would increase by 10.41% by the end of the contract, through five 2% increases, compounded.

The 12,000 teaching adjuncts and the 3,000 full-time employees in certain lower-paid titles will receive additional increases based on the principles of equity and lifting the salary floor for all.

Those in teaching adjunct and hourly professorial titles will see a substantial additional increase in pay at the start of next semester, when they will begin to be responsible for and paid for weekly office hours. In general, these titles will not see the last 2% increase, because they will be advanced to a new hourly rate based on a single rate of pay per course per title on August 25, 2022, the first day of the Fall 2022 semester. (See Sections II through IV of the Memorandum of Agreement.)

The proposed agreement also includes equity increases in salary rates for 3,000 employees in lower-paid full-time titles (CLT titles, Assistant to HEO, and Lecturer and related titles). See below.

2. Is there any retroactive pay in the proposed agreement?

Yes, and we had to push hard to win it. CUNY management’s initial offer included no back pay and a delay of more than a year and a half before any increases would be paid, but the PSC refused to accept a contract without retroactive increases for 2018 and 2019.

After intense negotiations, we won an agreement that includes an increase in every year of the contract and retroactive increases for everyone represented by the PSC who was on payroll on October 1, 2018, and everyone who was on payroll on October 31, 2019 (including those who have since retired or left CUNY).

Back pay is the difference between what you were actually paid and what you would have been paid if the new higher rates had been in place at the time. As an example, for someone earning a salary of $50,000 and on payroll for both increases, back pay will be between $1,500 and $2,000, depending on when it is paid. Back pay is taxed and is subject to the same payroll deductions as your regular paycheck. Some members may want to consult a tax professional for more information about the income tax implications.

3. If the contract is ratified, when would I actually get my higher pay and back pay? I hear there was a long delay for DC37 members at CUNY.

Conscious of the unacceptable delay in payment of increases for our coworkers at CUNY, the PSC bargaining team repeatedly expressed to CUNY management that increases must be implemented – and retroactive pay paid – as promptly as possible. CUNY management has not yet announced dates. The Chancellor’s Office has confirmed, however, that if the contract is ratified, payment for the new additional adjunct office hours will be included in adjuncts’ regular paychecks starting with the beginning of next semester. After the last contract was settled, the PSC had to press CUNY hard for timely payment, and it still took five months for raises and retro to be paid. Days after agreement on the current proposed contract was reached, the union leadership met with the chancellor and pressed for timely payment of increases. The PSC has also designated a team of officers and staff prepared to focus, as soon as a contract is ratified, on ensuring that the CUNY administration moves with dispatch to get raises paid.

4. How is the contract funded?

The big economic news about the proposed contract is that it comes with a commitment for additional State and City funding, over and above the annual salary increases and equity increases, to pay for the new adjunct office hours. The PSC won the support of the CUNY Board, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio for investing millions of additional dollars annually so that CUNY adjuncts could be paid for more of the work they do and CUNY students could have increased access to time with their instructors. That commitment is a major achievement of this contract.

The claim made by some college presidents that tuition must be raised to cover contractual increases is false and divisive. The reason for budget shortfalls at CUNY is systemic underfunding, not our contractual increases. New York City has made the commitment and has the practice of adding funds to the community college budgets to cover every dollar of the across-the-board and equity increases in every year of the contract. New York State has not regularly done so, but the State did provide funding for the retroactive pay increases in the last contract and has made the important new commitment of funds for the proposed agreement. If the “TAP Gap” were closed and if New York City increased its contribution to the senior colleges, some of CUNY’s funding problem would be solved – without the need for tuition increases. The PSC will continue to press for additional State funding; our effort is already under way. The proposed contract, with its commitment of additional public funds, gives us a good place to start.

5. What is meant by “equity increases” and who will receive them?

Equity increases are increases in pay in addition to the “across-the-board” raises. One of the major economic victories of the proposed contract is that it provides equity increases in salary for lower-paid full-time employees as well as the major gain for teaching adjuncts. Management initially took the position that there could be no equity increases for full-time employees if there was to be a significant adjunct increase. The union prevailed.

If the proposed contract is ratified, about 3,000 colleagues in full-time titles will receive salary increases on base in addition to the annual 2% raises. The equity increases, all of which will be applied to every step of the given salary schedule, are as follows:

  • Full-time CLT titles, effective January 1, 2020:
      • $2,500 for CLTs
      • $2,000 for Senior CLTs
      • $1,500 for Chief CLTs
  • Assistants to HEO, effective February 1, 2021: $1,000
  • Lecturers, Lecturers Doctoral Schedule, CLIP and CUNY Start Instructors, and EOC Lecturers, effective April 1, 2021: $1,500

The different dates for equity increases are part of the overall economic framework of the agreement.

There are several other important equity gains in the proposed contract, notably the provisions for graduate employees and the increases to the professional development grant funds for HEOs, CLTs, adjuncts and continuing-ed faculty.

6. What about paid family leave?

Paid family leave, an initiative introduced by New York State in 2018, allows public-sector unions and their employers to negotiate a program to provide up to 12 weeks per year of partially paid leave for care of a new child or an ill family member. Under the program, both full-time and part-time faculty and staff would be entitled to take paid time away from work to help with a parent’s medical appointments, bond with a new child, take care of an ill spouse or provide other family medical needs.

As part of the proposed contract, the PSC and CUNY management have agreed to work together to try to implement paid family leave. Implementing the program entails contracting with a private insurance vendor, and that process has been slower than anticipated. The program would be funded by modest mandatory payroll deductions, according to a schedule developed by State government.

7. What is the significance of new language on observations of online classes?

It represents the first-ever language in our contract addressing online teaching. That is a significant gain, because the CUNY administration has expressed an interest in expanding online instruction, and the rights of CUNY faculty must remain protected. The new provision on classroom teaching observations of online or partially online courses states that it aims to “replicate as closely as possible the observation practices” already included in the contract. The instructor will be given no less than 24 hours’ notice of the observation. The observer is to be given limited access to the teaching platform – that is, “student” or “guest” access. The new provision outlines procedures for observations of different kinds of classes using distance learning, but in general, the observer’s access to the platform has a time limit, and there is a limit to the portion of the course’s activities that may be referenced in the post-observation memorandum.

8. Were we able to negotiate any solutions to the difficulties experienced at some campuses with the HEO salary differential?

Yes. Supplementary funds will be provided to each college to eliminate budgetary reasons for being unable to approve differentials for eligible employees. For each year of the contract, funds will be made available to each college based upon the number of HEOs who are eligible for the differential at that college. Given the availability of substantial new funds, we hope that there will be an increase in applications and an increase in differentials awarded.

Additionally, although applications may still be submitted and approved at any time of the year, there is now a contractual timetable for final approvals to be made at least twice a year. HEOs who submit their application to HR by January 1 shall receive notification of the President’s decision no later than June 30; those who submit applications by July 1 shall receive notification of the president’s decision no later than January 15.

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