There is no doubt that the union faces strong challenges, including high inflation and a possible recession ahead, but the PSC’s member engagement, unity of purpose and allies are the strengths that faculty and staff will draw on to win a just and fair contract with CUNY. That was the message PSC President James Davis and fellow union leaders delivered to nearly 1,200 rank-and-file members at an October 26 virtual mass meeting focusing on the union’s upcoming contract campaign.
Members across the university are discussing ideas for the upcoming contract campaign. (Credit: Erik McGregor)
“The only way that we will win is with solidarity and organizing,” Davis said, noting that he welcomes member participation in upcoming talks with CUNY. “We want you in those rooms with us. We want you at the bargaining table. And we want your voices there.”
The union’s principal officers and members of the bargaining team (see story below) discussed both the present political moment and members’ priorities for bargaining, including general pay raises for faculty and staff.
The officers also highlighted major contract gains made in the last two decades, using the past as a guide for the future. PSC First Vice President Andrea Vásquez presented highlights from those bargaining achievements, including salary differentials, paid parental leave, multiyear appointments for adjuncts and across-the-board pay increases. She also discussed the union’s strong defense over the years against CUNY’s demands for union concessions. Management has sought to increase workloads, remove department chairs from the bargaining unit, create an unlimited number of part-time lines and eliminate HEO job security (contractually known as 13.3b), she said. Thanks to the union’s steadfast unity, Vásquez observed, “none of those demands saw the light of day.”
Members discussed some of their central bargaining concerns. How can HEOs who reach the top pay step move up in income? Can the union stop late paychecks and last-minute class cancellations for adjuncts? Can the union implement meaningful anti-bullying language in the contract? How does the pattern bargaining enforced by the City and the State impact the union’s pursuit of raises beyond inflation? Can contract bargaining also be an arena that advances the interests of students and faculty alike, such as limiting class sizes?
THE UPCOMING CAMPAIGN
The current PSC-CUNY contract will expire next year on February 28, and the union plans to hold a contract campaign rally. Under state law, contract terms stay in effect after the expiration date until a new contract is ratified and implemented.
The next few weeks and months will be important. The bargaining team is strategizing, campus action teams are in formation and each chapter’s PSC delegates will soon be ratifying demands that the union will present to the CUNY administration. Chapters are holding campus meetings with members about their contract priorities and discussing how local organizing can go forward. As Davis noted, “This is a really pivotal moment for our union and our university.”
Published: November 21, 2022
Last Modified: November 30, 2022