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Home » Clarion » 2023 » December 2023 » Union saves a vital program

Union saves a vital program


Marci Goodman, Queens College HEO

Marci Goodman, Queens College HEO

This is a true story about our union saving the day.

Early on a Friday morning in late August, I was awakened by a notification sound from the phone on my night table. I saw that I’d received an email with the subject heading “College Now FY24 Allocation.”

Opening it, I quickly scanned the contents and realized that our allocation would be 30% less than what we had budgeted for – what we needed to run the program for the entire year. Charging the colleges for the cost of fringe benefits for College Now employees, something that had never been done in the more than two-decade history of College Now, would amount to a drastic cut. Without intervention, we wouldn’t be able to offer any College Now courses whatsoever in the spring semester at Queens College. Every other College Now program across CUNY was in the exact same situation.


Deans, provosts and vice presidents from all the colleges scrambled to figure out how to approach this matter with CUNY Central. Apparently, navigating the chain of command at CUNY Central can be tricky even for top-level administrators from the colleges. Many meetings were scheduled. Meanwhile, the CUNY K-16 Initiatives leadership kept insisting to anyone and everyone who asked that there was no change and nothing to see here. It was difficult to discern whether they were gaslighting us or just really didn’t understand what they had wrought.

A week or so after receiving the aforementioned email, I bumped into our former PSC chapter chair on the bus. I told him what was happening with College Now, and he advised me to email the current chapter chair about it, which I did as soon as I got to the office. The chapter chair responded immediately, forwarding my email to all the chapter chairs CUNY-wide.


That same day, we had an in-person chapter meeting featuring one of the PSC’s principal officers. After the meeting, I grabbed the opportunity to speak to her, and she assured me that she would look into the matter right away.

Chapter chairs got in touch with College Now directors CUNY-wide to confirm the contents of the email they’d been forwarded. Word was spreading. The principal officers went straight to the top, to the chancellor and two executive vice-chancellors, all of whom insisted that there was no cut to College Now. They insisted that they knew nothing about this but that it had to be a mistake or misunderstanding, and that they would fix it.


And it did get fixed. Without taking responsibility or apologizing, the CUNY K-16 Initiatives leadership announced to College Now directors that our full allocations would be restored. Shortly thereafter, the CUNY Central budget office contacted the budget offices at all the colleges to make it official and, interestingly, to apologize. Let me be clear that it was one budget office apologizing to another budget office; it didn’t extend further than that.

There’s no high drama to this story. It’s even a bit boring. But it illustrates how the union jumped right in and solved the problem while the administrators were all spinning their wheels, which makes this proud union member even prouder.

Marci Goodman is the director of College Now at Queens College. A version of this article originally appeared in the PSC retiree newsletter.

Published: December 21, 2023

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