Role launched this year
Rulisa Galloway-Perry said being a HEO advisor is a great way to build the union. (Photo Credit: Dave Sanders)
When Rulisa Galloway-Perry, the academic advising director and senior cocurricular administrator for Africana Studies at John Jay College, was serving as a PSC grievance counselor for Higher Education Officers (HEOs), she believed she was providing a needed service to members. Spending one day a week at the union’s downtown office, she helped HEOs from around CUNY with their Step 1 grievances.
But she felt there was even more she could do for her fellow HEOs.
Galloway-Perry is one of 13 HEO advisors who provide expanded services to professional staff. One difference between a HEO advisor, a union role launched early 2021, and a HEO grievance counselor is that an advisor only serves HEOs on the campus at which they work. Grievance counselors serve HEOs across all campuses with the exception of John Jay. Advisors are also trained only in Step 1 grievances.
Cindy Bink, the PSC chapter chair for HEOs, told Clarion that the program was improving representation for HEOs.
Bink, who serves as the director of counseling at City Tech, added that the local role of a HEO advisor was important because “A HEO who works on a campus understands the culture, dynamics and players of that campus” and “this is crucial to resolving grievances and understanding campus HEO needs.”
For Galloway-Perry, the union’s creation of the HEO advisor position comes as a much-needed expansion of the union’s contract enforcement efforts. She notes that HEOs often require an advocate on their campus who knows the management structure.
“The benefit is that you know the parties, so you can work through it easier because you know both parties,” Galloway-Perry told Clarion. “I’ve been at John Jay for a very long time, so I pretty much know everyone. I have the respect of the people I need to work with in order to advocate for HEOs.”
Faye Moore, the PSC’s interim director of contract administration, recently held several HEO advisor trainings for advisors that covered topics such as how to best serve members, interpret the contract and work with management.
“What I say to my fellow HEOs is [being an advisor] is a good way to understand what your benefits are and what your contract really means,” Galloway-Perry said. “People don’t have a good sense of what the contract means, and they don’t see that process. Being a HEO advisor, you get to engage with fellow HEOs.”
She believes that grievance counseling is often viewed by HEOs as a service to members rather than a form of organizing. But advisors, she said, fuse the role of contract enforcer and local organizer. Galloway-Perry said that she strives to “bring in the organizing component.”
In launching the HEO advisor network this year, the union expanded its advocacy for HEOs, who unlike faculty members, belong to a cross-campus chapter rather than a campus-based chapter.
“The Contract Enforcement Department is very excited about the entire HEO advisor initiative and looking forward to the day every campus is covered,” Moore said. “The current advisors are all committed union activists who will help us educate and energize the rank-and-file.” For a list of campus HEO advisors, go to psc-cuny.org/about-us/house-grievance-counselors.