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Home » Clarion » 2024 » April 2024 » 2024 New Caucus slate narrative

2024 New Caucus slate narrative

Under the continued leadership of President James Davis, this slate of New Caucus leaders will prioritize winning a just contract for all PSC members and full funding of the University, while defending academic freedom and the integrity of CUNY and its mission. The past three years have been a period of transition for the union. The New Caucus leadership fought for a safe reopening as faculty and staff returned to campus in Fall 2021, celebrated the PSC’s golden anniversary in 2022 and in Summer 2023 began bargaining for a Fair Contract for a People’s CUNY. As a leadership with diverse experiences in union activism, we continue to build the PSC into an even stronger union within an increasingly energized labor movement. Our membership is robust, and we are vigorously supported by coalition allies, students and legislators, and by our state and national affiliates.

Each New Caucus candidate for the Principal Officer positions has years of union activism and leadership and a passion for the PSC’s mission that is shared by the entire slate. James Davis is seeking to continue as PSC President, while Andrea Vásquez, two-term First Vice President, will run for the position of Secretary. Felicia Wharton is seeking to continue as Treasurer, and Jennifer Gaboury is the New Caucus candidate for First Vice President. Penny Lewis, currently PSC Secretary, is running for Vice President for Senior Colleges, and Lawrence Bosket and Lynne Turner are seeking their first full terms as Vice President for Cross-Campus Units and Vice President for Part-Time Personnel, respectively. Joining the slate for the first time, Kathleen Offenholley, a professor at BMCC, is running for the position of Vice President for Community Colleges.


A strong contract that advances the interests of all our members remains the top priority for the New Caucus slate. Fair compensation that addresses inflation and makes progress toward equity needs and salary compression are our main economic goals. Our working conditions must also be addressed in the contract, including improved health and safety protections, increased job security and opportunities for professional advancement, remote and flexible work, and contractual guidelines for online teaching and the use of educational technology. New Caucus leaders oppose management’s goals in bargaining that would increase contingency, insecurity, and managerial authority; we know all PSC members deserve professional respect, job security, academic freedom and fair compensation. The PSC Executive Council has sent a skillful bargaining team to the table and led an inclusive campaign for a successor to the 2017–2023 contract. The bargaining agenda was developed through a union-wide survey and town hall meetings. Hundreds of PSC members have participated in orientations to bargaining and attended contract negotiations.

The New Caucus slate recognizes that winning a great contract requires our members’ continued engagement with the communities we serve, as does winning resources for our colleges. We believe that our power is in coalition with students and other unions and organizations who fight for public goods, against racial austerity and for social justice. The goal of a fully-funded University will be achieved through our struggle for New Deal for CUNY legislation, which has elevated CUNY funding as a key legislative priority. The past three years brought greater increases in state investment than CUNY has seen in decades, yet the needs of our members and students remain acute. Our fight for revenue is central to our legislative program. During the pandemic alone, the number of New York State billionaires increased from 126 to 135, demonstrating extreme income inequality and hoarding of opportunity. The New Caucus is committed to the redistributive policies that should fund the needs of our students and communities.

Budgetary challenges at CUNY have intensified the pressures on academic freedom and shared governance from the CUNY administration and from a national political movement seeking their erosion. The New Caucus leadership believes that the CUNY Board of Trustees must answer first and foremost to the academic community. Corporate-style restructuring of universities and recent aggressive right-wing attacks on higher education across the country make it imperative that PSC members, who believe in the value of teaching and research for the public good, hold the University administration and elected officials accountable in supporting democratic institutions and shared governance.


Early in our term, the PSC continued to face the threat of the pandemic and an administration insufficiently protective of our health and safety. Coordinating with our Health and Safety Watchdogs, hundreds strong, the PSC conducted campus walkthroughs, pushed for sensible mask and air quality policies, and bargained with CUNY over the impact of its vaccine policy. The PSC maintained a newly-negotiated Remote Work Agreement and pushed back on the administration’s ham-fisted remote learning and working mandates.

As we slowly came out of the pandemic and began the contract campaign, the Executive Council adopted a strategic perspective that centers cross-title Campus Action Teams (CATs). The CATs consist of member activists who serve as departmental representatives and facilitate union communication and organize union actions. As a result, thousands of members have participated in the PSC’s powerful, creative and joyful campaigns, including mass Zoom meetings, rallies, informational picketing, tabling, “red for ed” visibility events, bargaining observation, membership drives and lobbying and coalitional support. Our union’s internal solidarity and external visibility have increased through these collective efforts. Building the power to ensure that we and our students have the resources and respect we deserve through strong budgets, a strong contract and academic freedom will continue to animate the Executive Council’s work.

In recent years, the City has not invested its fair share in CUNY, but the PSC organized to successfully reverse many of last year’s cuts and is now fighting to rescind the mayor’s cuts for this year and secure new operating aid. Additionally, among the city unions, the PSC has been a consistent advocate for retirees throughout the City’s attempted shift to a privatized Medicare Advantage plan. We educated members and presented alternate proposals to the City Council. At the state level, our creative approach to funding led to an exciting legislative initiative this year with its roots in PSC advocacy in 2018: the REPAIR Act, which would direct payments in lieu of taxes from NYU and Columbia University toward funding for CUNY. Our New Deal for CUNY campaign inspired our state affiliate to launch a New Deal for Higher Education effort, which elevates higher education among NYSUT priorities. New Caucus leaders have also worked with AAUP and AFT to build national support for adjunct equity, academic freedom and strong contracts for all workers in the academic industry.

This New Caucus slate platform continues a proud tradition of principled advocacy for racial, economic and educational justice for PSC members and our students, and for public higher education in New York and nationally. In our legislative advocacy, our budget campaigns and our fight to improve our contract and enforce the provisions we have won, we prioritize member engagement, coalition-building and the participation of PSC members in the struggles to make CUNY work for us, its workers and for the working people of New York.

Published: March 27, 2024

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