Activists handed out pamphlets at the Brooklyn College graduation ceremony this spring.
Classes may have started at the end of August, but the union’s bargaining team has been hard at work over the summer to reach a contract agreement with CUNY.
The good news is that the union and university management agree substantial progress has been made in the summer months. PSC Secretary Nivedita Majumdar said, “The PSC bargaining team members have been hard at work throughout the summer, often setting aside their own personal and professional plans. It is intense work requiring both an overall clarity with regard to the rationale and purpose of each demand as well as a close eye for detail. Backed by the power built through our members’ engagement and actions, we continue to press CUNY management for a contract with improved work conditions, raises for all, and a settlement that will have a transformative impact on our adjunct members. We hope to announce a proposed contract settlement within the next few weeks.”
The bargaining team said in a message, “As a bargaining team, we have kept our eyes firmly on the prize throughout the negotiations: a contract that includes raises across the board every year, additional equity increases for the lowest-paid full-time positions and an end to CUNY’s wage injustice for adjunct faculty. The PSC set a standard for a transformation in adjunct pay in this round by demanding $7K per three-credit course for adjuncts. Our current bargaining agenda is the most ambitious the union has ever proposed, and we believe that we have built the power to pursue it.”
Much of the back-and-forth has revolved around the complex funding structure of the PSC-CUNY contract – “PSC leadership has also been active in advocacy with New York State and City governments, both of which must approve any proposed settlement,” the team said.
The intense summer contract talks come after months of demonstrations by union members demanding a fair contract. At the end of the Spring 2019 semester, members and students gave leaflets to students and students’ families during graduation ceremonies highlighting the need for a just contract. Students wore PSC stickers on their caps and gowns, and family members spoke to rank-and-file members about the contract campaign. Novelist and critic Roxane Gay, who received an honorary degree during the graduation ceremony for the Graduate Center, highlighted the contract demands and, in a tweet, posed for a PSC photo and said, “Pay the CUNY adjuncts the $7K a class they are asking for. Honestly that’s not enough but it’s a start.”
THE NEW CHIEF
The union leadership has worked strategically with the opportunity provided by the appointment of a new chancellor, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, whose first academic year in the position begins this Fall.
The last PSC-CUNY contract expired on November 30, 2017.