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Home » Clarion » 2022 » October 2022 » Contract survey results guide campaign

Contract survey results guide campaign

Gearing up for contract fightBy ARI PAUL

The PSC’s next contract struggle with CUNY is just around the corner. The current collective bargaining agreement, representing CUNY faculty and staff, expires at the end of February 2023.

To prepare for a democratic and member-driven negotiation process, the union sent a survey to all union members across all the different titles the union represents, asking about member priorities and demands in the next contract. This Fall semester, the union’s leadership will hone concrete contract demands, with the goal of winning fair pay, job protections, professional development and promotional opportunities for PSC members of all titles, part-time and full-time, faculty and staff. (The PSC also represents workers at the CUNY Research Foundation. The Research Foundation Central contract expires at the end of this year, while the field unit contracts at the Graduate Center, LaGuardia and City Tech end on June 30, 2024.)

The survey results paint a picture of what members want to see in the next contract. In the next weeks and months, PSC organizers, along with chapter leaders and activists, will be talking to their colleagues about how to organize for a good contract.

Nearly 9,400 people responded to the survey.

SHOW US THE MONEY

The vast majority of survey respondents listed salary increases as “very” or “somewhat” important. Fully 95% of all respondents said they want universal, across-the-board salary increases, and 82% prioritized making the teaching adjunct hourly salary proportional to the full-time teaching salary. Many other issues also rose to the top of general importance. Remote work agreements, improved job security for part-time titles, defending academic freedom and protections against bullying in the workplace all saw massive support.

Automatic step increases with promotion, a standard practice at other universities and workplaces, was similarly prioritized, as were improvements to the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund. The survey asked about various ways in which the PSC can fight against structural racism at CUNY, and in this area, members supported the importance of this work in some of the biggest numbers of the survey, with more than 85% saying the following areas were “very important” or “somewhat important”: the racialized salary gap, diversifying the highest paid titles and increasing promotional opportunities and advancement. Protecting quality education for CUNY students was the highest priority of all respondents, tying with universal salary increases. Ninety-five percent of respondents marked it as important and 85% selected “very important.”

Members in all titles named pay increases for everyone as one of their five most important issues. For full-time faculty, the next priority issues were reducing the teaching load; support for research and professional development, such as paid leave and travel; and additional pay increases for those at top steps.

Besides across-the-board salary increases, the biggest issues for HEOs were remote work agreements, improvements to reclassification and improving job security (including decreasing time to attain 13.3b).

EQUITY NEEDED

Teaching adjuncts ranked making adjunct salaries proportional to full-time salaries and improving adjunct job security as their highest concerns. In addition to overall raises for everyone, they also named increases in part-time salaries as a top priority.

College laboratory technicians (CLTs) ranked strengthening CLT promotional opportunities, salary raises for all PSC-represented titles, and increases to the lowest-paid CLT titles and general increases to lower paid full-time titles as important in addition to salary raises for all.

For nonteaching adjuncts, improving job security for part-timers and across-the-board salary raises were important. Other titles ranked across-the-board salary increases and equity for part-time titles as major priorities.

The upcoming contract campaign presents new challenges. This will be the first CUNY contract campaign with the next state governor, presumptively Kathy Hochul. While Hochul has been more generous toward higher education in her state budget proposals than her predecessor, she is mostly untested on contract bargaining. Her administration settled one state contract with the Civil Service Employees Association this summer. That settlement included 2% and 3% annual raises from 2023 through Spring of 2026 and a one-time COVID bonus of $3,000.

The PSC’s contract fight takes place nearly three years since the world was turned upside down by the COVID pandemic. Members’ contract priorities have been shaped by record-high inflation and the need for on-campus safety precautions, including the possibility of remote work options.

LOOKING BACK

The current 2017–2023 contract was overwhelmingly ratified by PSC members in the Fall of 2019, and was the result of the long, organized, member-led struggle that eventually won 10.41% across-the-board raises over the life of the contract, significant pay increases for adjuncts and equity raises for CLTs, lecturers and assistants to HEO.

While the contract expires next February, New York State law stipulates that the contract terms remain in effect until a new collective bargaining agreement is ratified and enacted.


Published: September 29, 2022 | Last Modified: November 9, 2022

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