PSC to the CUNY Board of Trustees: Take a Public Stand for Real Raises and a Fully Funded Contract
Faculty and Staff Demand that CUNY Request Enough Funding to Support Fair Pay for All, $7K per Course for Adjuncts, Quality Education for CUNY Students
More than 100 faculty and staff of the City University of New York showed up en masse at a CUNY Board of Trustees hearing yesterday to share firsthand stories of the damage being done to the University by salaries that lag thousands of dollars behind those at comparable institutions, near-poverty-level adjunct pay and chronic underfunding.
The professors, lab technicians, financial aid counselors and others spoke at a public hearing of the CUNY Board at Baruch College. They were there in support of their union, the Professional Staff Congress (PSC/CUNY), and its demand for a fully funded contract with money to support good raises for all workers at CUNY and a new minimum of $7,000 per course for adjunct professors.
“As trustees you have a choice between normalizing the lie that there is not enough money to go around—or fundamentally challenging that lie and demanding the investment CUNY needs. Stop normalizing poverty,” said Barbara Bowen, president of PSC/CUNY and a professor of English at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center.
The CUNY Board of Trustees issues the University’s annual budget request, which is currently in development, and approves its collective bargaining agreement with faculty and staff, which expired last November. CUNY’s collective bargaining costs are not fully funded, and the colleges have been forced again this year to cut their already-reduced budgets.
Lorraine Cohen, a professor of Sociology at LaGuardia Community College, testified about cuts to the Writing Lab and Library Services on her campus, the lack of public funding for an already-negotiated teaching load reduction at CUNY, and the exploitation of adjuncts. She said the CUNY Board must stand up and fight for the contract CUNY needs.
“CUNY management and the Board of Trustees have to make up their mind about to whom they should be accountable, the political powers that be, or the people of the City of New York? We need to imagine and fight for a University that will serve ‘the whole people,’” Cohen said, referencing CUNY’s founding mission to serve “the children of the whole people.”
The Board is composed of ten appointees of Governor Cuomo, including former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson and current State Budget Director Robert Mujica, and five appointees of the Mayor, in addition to one student trustee and one non-voting faculty trustee.
The union members displayed three 20-foot petition scrolls during their testimony, signed by 3,500 faculty staff and students who support the demand for $7,000 per course for adjunct faculty as part of a fully funded contract with fair pay for all.
“CUNY students…are heroes. Underpaying their instructors—and so forcing them to travel to multiple campuses, and to teach hundreds of students a year—deprives those students of the stability and investment they need and so richly deserve,” wrote Dr. Elizabeth Hollander in her testimony. Hollander is an adjunct assistant professor of English at Lehman College who has been teaching at CUNY for 12 years.
The petitions demonstrate CUNY-wide support for the union’s entire bargaining agenda, including the break-through demand for $7K per course for adjuncts. Campus union chapters are continuing to collect signatures and delivering local petitions to their campus presidents.