Dear Members and Colleagues:
I am delighted to greet you on the first day of classes in the academic year at most CUNY campuses. Today is also the first opening day in six years in which we begin with a contract settlement in hand. Thank you for the unprecedented turnout and overwhelming support you offered in the ratification vote.
You will be pleased to see that the New York State FY 2017 Financial Plan First Quarter Update reports that the funding for our contract has been allocated by the State, including $250 million for retroactive increases:
On June 27, 2016, the City University of New York (CUNY) Board of Trustees approved collective bargaining agreements between CUNY and unions representing almost all of the University’s faculty and staff. For CUNY senior colleges, these agreements are estimated to cost approximately $250 million for retroactive payments and $150 million in ongoing annual costs. At the request of CUNY, to make resources available for retroactive payments in the academic year ending June 2017, the State expects to advance approximately $250 million in planned State support for CUNY senior colleges. . . .
We worked hard for those sentences!
You will also be pleased to learn that the updated salary schedules for each title represented by PSC are now available on the PSC website. To find what your current salary should be, locate your annual salary under the schedule for your title headed “10/20/2009,” then move across to the new salary under the heading “4/20/2016.”
But now the question is: When are we getting paid? Despite intense pressure from the PSC throughout the summer, CUNY management has still not provided either payment on the new salary schedule or information on when the payments will be made. Nor have they paid the ratification bonus or back pay. Calculating back pay dating to 2012 for such a large group of employees is complicated, but there is no excuse for CUNY management’s failure to implement the higher salaries or to provide us with information on when we can expect the money we are owed.
Chancellor Milliken has assured me that providing pay increases is his top priority at this time — but it should have been his top priority from the day a tentative contract settlement was reached. The money we are owed is not trivial; many of us are counting on it to pay off debts, support our families, or simply to survive. CUNY’s delay is inexcusable. It is difficult not to see the delay as a sign of disrespect for us and the work we do.
CUNY management expects that we do our job; it’s time for them to do theirs.
Please send this message to Chancellor Milliken — or write one of your own — to urge him to act immediately to provide the pay to which we are entitled. I had not expected to begin the academic year with a call to action, but we have learned that it often takes collective action to get CUNY to move. Let’s make sure the chancellor knows how unfair it is that we have still not received our increases.
The union leadership will continue to work directly with CUNY management to speed up payment and decisions on when we can expect to be paid at the new salary rate and receive applicable retroactive pay and ratification bonus pay. Meanwhile, you can estimate your back pay with the union’s online estimator, check your newsalary rate, and read more about the ratification bonus on the PSC website.
The new contract includes so many advances in working conditions that I am hopeful that we can have a year in which we see real change at CUNY. Hundreds of adjuncts will qualify for greater job security; HEO-series employees will see a wider path toward career advancement; CLIP and CUNY Start teachers will become full-time instructors; library faculty will receive more annual leave; and full-time faculty will be on the way to experiencing a reduced teaching load.
I look forward to working with you on the implementation of these gains and others in the year to come. Meanwhile, you might want to read this assessment of our contract campaign last year. The most important lesson we learned is that we can develop substantial political power even against class forces of economic austerity. Now the challenge is to sustain and build on that power this year — because the political forces we faced have not gone away.
Best wishes for a good academic year.