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Equity Raises Victory

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Dear PSC Members,

Two weeks ago, we wrote to you about the CUNY chancellor’s decision to ignore the contract and refuse to pay equity increases to 2,500 colleagues in lower-paid full-time positions—Assistant to HEO and Lecturer titles. “Honor the contract!” hundreds of PSC members demanded in letters, petitions, phone calls and protests.

Late Friday night, hours before a planned demonstration in front of Chancellor Matos Rodríguez’s house, the chancellor reversed his decision. He signed an agreement with the union for payment of the increases. Assistants to HEO and faculty in full-time Lecturer titles (which include CLIP and CUNY Start Instructors) will receive this year’s full equity increase as a lump-sum payment and will have the increase applied on each salary step next year. In addition, CUNY management agreed to expedite their request for payment of the increases by the City and State so that members receive the money as soon as possible.

Congratulations, PSC members! This is a victory for all of us. Hundreds of members fought back fast and hard because we were offended that Matos Rodríguez would attack lower-paid employees and withhold raises explicitly bargained to address inequities of race and gender. And we came together from every part of the union because we were stunned that management thought it could shred our contract with impunity—and without even bothering to notify the affected workers! We fought back and we won.

The economic crisis must not become an excuse for ripping up union contracts. Contract provisions are binding legal agreements, not options to be disregarded at will.

The fight against the statewide freeze on across-the-board raises continues, however. On that issue, we are up against Governor Cuomo’s directive affecting all public-sector workers on New York State contracts, as well as Chancellor Matos Rodríguez’s decision to implement the freeze throughout CUNY. The PSC has made swift restoration of our 2% raise a primary demand in our campaign on the State budget. We are working with the other affected unions, including UUP, to ensure that paying workers what we are owed is a priority in this year’s budget negotiations. The PSC also fast-tracked a class-action grievance on the issue and forcefully argued our case at a hearing on February 19.

It should not have taken a protest at CUNY central on Presidents’ Day, email messages from nearly 1,000 members, petitions from two different campuses, a letter to the chancellor signed by the city’s major labor leaders, intervention by elected officials, and a plan to demonstrate on the chancellor’s doorstep just to get CUNY to adhere to the contract and pay the equity raises. But the restoration of the equity raises was more than a defensive victory: it was proof that we are prepared to fight until we win.

So thank you, PSC members, for this shared win. Let’s add to it by ramping up the campaign to enact the New Deal for CUNY, legislation that would transform CUNY’s funding, staffing and student support. Join students, legislators, community groups and the PSC in a march, Brooklyn Demands a New Deal for CUNY, this Saturday, March 6, at 1:00 PM in Brooklyn, starting at Barclays Center and ending at City Tech.

Stay well, and thank you,

Barbara Bowen
Andrea Vásquez
President and First Vice President, PSC


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