Across generations, CUNY is a cause
Activism in support of CUNY’s historic mission is alive and well. A new generation of faculty, staff, students and community- and faith-based groups is bringing a special energy, passion and intelligence to the defense of the university in the face of massive disinvestment and political attacks.
But what’s also notable is that the surge of recent organizing in the CUNY and contract struggles crosses generational lines. Retirees, in substantial numbers, have demonstrated, been arrested, lobbied in Albany and at City Hall, volunteered for phone-banking and, over the past year, contributed over $17,000 to PSC/COPE, the union’s political action fund.
There are multiple reasons for our commitment to CUNY’s historic mission and the current contract fight:
- Sweat equity. The 2,700-plus members of the PSC Retirees Chapter have cumulatively logged over 80,000 years at CUNY, developing curriculum, providing student services, building governance structures and witnessing thousands of students, from what is arguably the most diverse student body in the world, transform their lives and that of the city and state. CUNY’s mission is part of our DNA.
- Been there, done that. Many members of the retiree’s chapter participated in the overwhelming strike authorization votes of 1972 and 1973 when the PSC was negotiating its first contract. Management tried to break the new union, but backed off and settled the contract when faced with the resolve of a militant membership.
- Lived history. From the 1960s to the present, from Open Admissions to the 1975-76 fiscal crisis, from threatened college closings and retrenchment in the ’70s and ’90s to the budget, tuition and contract battles of the new century, we have been part of the fight-back rather than passive observers of events.
Joining with the “children of the whole people,” their parents and communities, faculty, staff and alumni, many PSC retirees see CUNY as a cause. A luta continua.
Borough of Manhattan Community College (retired)
Chair, Retirees Chapter
Holding NC providers accountable
Recently the North Carolina legislature passed an anti-LGBT bill that not only allows businesses to discriminate against gays, lesbians and transgender people if it “offends” their religious beliefs, but also bars local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances. Needless to say, the bill was immediately signed by the Republican governor Pat McCrory despite the Republican party’s alleged belief in local government.
The organizations Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC sent the governor a letter signed by more than 90 major businesses opposing this legislation. The letter includes signatures from senior officers at Citibank, TD Bank and also Bank of America, which has its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. In fact PayPal just announced that they were transferring a planned new facility to another state because of this new law.
I looked in vain among those companies listed for TIAA-CREF, which also has its main headquarters in Charlotte. Are they really so uncaring? They hold retirement funds for many CUNY workers and faculty. We need to let them know that their attitude is offensive.
City College of New York (retired)