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Negotiate a just contract with real raises and gains that will support quality education for CUNY students.

Dont panic - organize

Internal Organizing

Build out Campus Action Teams to reach into most departments and offices. Steadily increase membership, engagement and mobilization capacity.


Coalition Building

Strengthen CUNY Rising Alliance and partner with UUP and other unions to build broader support for New Deal for CUNY, increased CUNY funding and a just PSC-CUNY contract.

Our Bargaining Team

Michael Batson
Lawrence Bosket
James Davis
Luke Elliott-Negri
Jennifer Gaboury
Amy Jeu
Geoffrey Kurtz
Penny Lewis
Lucy McIntyre
Howard Meltzer
Sharon Persinger
George Sanchez
Emily Schnee
Youngmin Seo
Claudia Shacter-deChabert
Pam Stemberg
Lynne Turner
Sharon Utakis
Andrea Vásquez
Felicia Wharton

Bargaining Dates and Updates

Upcoming Contract Bargaining Sessions

Upcoming Bargaining Sessions:

  • Thursday, 7/18, CUNY Central Office
    • Pre-meeting 11:30am
    • Bargaining 12:00-4:00pm
    • Debrief 4:00pm
  • Wednesday, 8/7, CUNY Central Office
    • Pre-meeting 11:30am
    • Bargaining 12:00-4:00pm
    • Debrief 4:00pm
  • Tuesday, 8/13, PSC Union Hall
    • Pre-meeting: 9:30am
    • Bargaining: 10:00am-2:00pm
    • Debrief: 2:00pm
  • Wednesday, 8/21, PSC Union Hall
    • Pre-meeting: 9:30am
    • Bargaining: 10:00am-2:00pm
    • Debrief: 2:00pm
  • Tuesday, 8/27, CUNY Central Office
    • Pre-meeting: 9:30am
    • Bargaining: 10:00am-2:00pm
    • Debrief: 2:00pm

Upcoming Bargaining Orientations:

Latest Bargaining Update

Bargaining Update 24

At the July 3 bargaining session, again with nearly forty members in attendance to support the work of the bargaining team, the parties agreed that progress had been made toward costing the contract. More precise discussions can soon take place about the cost of our contract demands. A significant amount of time was spent delving into proposed changes to the PSC-CUNY Research Awards and CUNY and PSC exchanged other counter proposals. 

PSC-CUNY Research Awards have served thousands of instructional staff, primarily faculty, and were enhanced in the past two contracts. PSC aims to consolidate its structure and simplify its process while maintaining the goals and breadth of the program. The program should enable more faculty to secure reassigned time for research. Negotiations continue on the complex funding of this grant and process for reviewing proposals as we also review data from past years. (See June 17 bargaining update for details.)

CUNY presented a revised counter proposal on salary increase with any promotion or reclassification for all full-time members of the instructional staff (i.e. faculty, CLTs, and HEOs). PSC wants to ensure that any member of the instructional staff who is promoted or reclassified to a new title receives at least one full step salary increase at the time of this personnel action. 

PSC presented a counter proposal on “salaries above base” (Appendix C) that is conditional upon CUNY agreeing to two of our key demands: an increase to the top salary step for all full-time employees and salary equity for teaching adjuncts. CUNY colleges are currently permitted to offer compensation to members of the instructional staff at higher rates than the contractual salary schedule in order to recruit or retain them. Some HEOs also receive these salaries above base but overwhelmingly these are faculty members in specific fields in which salaries are generally higher than ours. PSC has repeatedly said that CUNY faculty salaries are uncompetitive in general, so management should improve recruitment and retention more broadly by meeting the union’s salary demands. In addition to the annual raises we are fighting for, we have proposed to add $5,000 to the top step for all full-time titles and to achieve teaching adjunct pay parity through additional compensation for work performed outside of the classroom and in addition to the office hour. 

Concluding this short but productive bargaining session, PSC pressed CUNY to meet more frequently and for longer periods of time. We have secured several dates for bargaining this summer. PSC dues-paying members are invited to attend our bargaining sessions. The next upcoming orientation to PSC-CUNY bargaining, which is required of all observers, will be offered online on July 9 at 6:30 pm – register here. The August orientation will be held on Thursday, August 8 at 6:30 pm – register here.

All Bargaining Updates

Bargaining Update 23 

With forty PSC members observing, half of them first-time attendees, the PSC bargaining team returned to the table on June 17. President Davis began the session by affirming the union’s goal to make progress in the negotiations this summer and reach a strong agreement before the fall semester. The PSC bargaining team presented several counter-proposals to CUNY management, including two focused on support for professorial faculty. Despite CUNY management’s refusal to schedule important contract costing discussions and delays scheduling bargaining sessions, the union continues to push toward a fair settlement for faculty and professional staff.

Professors at CUNY consistently identify support for research, scholarly, and creative projects as a need that the contract should address. In past rounds of negotiations, the PSC has doubled the amount of pre-tenure reassigned time from 12 hours to 24 hours; then in response to the need for additional support post-tenure, that 24 hours was restructured so that 18 hours is available pre-tenure and 6 available post-tenure. In the immediate post-tenure period, the need persists for additional support; 3 more hours would allow a faculty member who regularly teaches three 3-credit courses per semester to take a full semester off from teaching after achieving tenure to continue their progress in research, scholarship, or creative projects. For community college faculty, who generally teach four courses per semester, an additional 3 hours would also provide much-needed relief, particularly with stringent standards for promotion. The PSC proposed a new fund to be administered by the union, to which Associate Professors could apply for 3 hours of reassigned time. Preference would be given to applicants who (a) have not previously received an award from this fund, (b) have served longest since tenure, (c) previously applied for but did not receive this award, and (d) applied earliest. The PSC proposed dedicating a cash amount from the contract settlement to fund a pilot program for the duration of the next contract. The award would support those with active research agendas and would not be as competitive as the PSC-CUNY Research Awards. The PSC’s proposal emerged from the deliberations of a subcommittee that has been meeting with management representatives on a number of professional development issues. Management’s bargaining team reviewed the proposal, asked preliminary questions, and said they would consider it further.

The PSC also presented a counter-proposal to CUNY’s February 29 proposal for restructuring the PSC-CUNY Research Awards. The union’s position is that this program has worked well overall and would not benefit from the overhaul that management’s proposal envisioned. That proposal would effectively convert the PSC-CUNY Research Award program into seed funding for faculty to pursue external grants. While some faculty can and do use the program in this way, other critical needs for faculty research and scholarship support would go unmet without access to a PSC-CUNY Research Award in its current form. Management’s proposal also sought to reduce the number of times a faculty member could receive a PSC-CUNY Research Award within a specified period of time. Here again, the PSC explained the value to both the individual applicant and the university to permit multiple awards for the same or similar projects within a defined timeframe. However, the union agreed that the program could do more to facilitate the provision of reassigned time – a common request for funding. PSC Secretary Andrea Vásquez and Vice President for Senior Colleges Penny Lewis explained the union’s proposal to combine the current Traditional A and B awards into a single Track 1, awarding up to $7,000 per year, and revising the current Enhanced award into a Track 2, awarding up to $15,000 per year. 

The PSC presented a counter-proposal on the required length of a teaching observation. The union stipulated that an observation of a class that meets for longer than one hour could be completed in one hour if the observer finds the performance satisfactory. In instances of an unsatisfactory evaluation, the observed faculty member could request an additional observation for the duration of the full class period. The PSC bargaining team also posed a number of questions about CUNY management’s proposal to incorporate Appendix N into the contract and expand its scope. This was a pilot program that has allowed certain year-round cohort programs in the Baruch graduate MBA offerings to award workload credit to full-time faculty who teach in the summer annual leave period. Finally, the PSC enumerated 16 proposals that management had presented that the union is not willing to entertain in this round of negotiations. 

Reviewing several economic demands that require further discussion, the PSC requested a Costing subcommittee meet as soon as possible. President Davis reiterated a point from prior sessions about the progress the parties made in previous rounds on adjunct salaries. He added there is an opportunity to align the contract with the recognition at the City and State levels of the amount of work adjuncts perform outside of class contact hours. State law recognizes it in the 2022 eligibility criteria for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which equate each teaching contact hour with 3.35 hours of work. City policy recognizes it by making 6 teaching contact hours per semester of CUNY instruction as equivalent to the 20-hour minimum weekly employment to qualify for insurance through the NYC Health Benefits Program. If the City acknowledges that teaching a 3-credit class is effectively equivalent to 10 hours of work per week, and the State has acknowledged a similar equivalence in PSLF law, why can’t CUNY compensate adjunct instructors accordingly? The PSC will continue to press management to advocate for adjunct pay parity and critical economic gains for all of our members.

The PSC requested additional bargaining dates, but management declined to provide them – yet again. Their outrageous scheduling delays are yet another reason it is important for PSC members to mobilize for contract actions such as this Friday’s 9am leafleting at Board Chair William Thompson’s office. See you then!

Bargaining Update 22

On June 5, negotiations continued on adjunct multi-year appointments and job security broadly. The PSC countered CUNY’s “prioritization” model of May 26 with a revised proposal for a commitment to real job security and health insurance eligibility. We expressed openness to continuing the multi-year program as a pilot for now because it is important to gather better data about the appointments and for the union and university to troubleshoot issues that arise, but the goal remains incorporation into the contract. The PSC bargaining team insisted that the multi-year appointment proposal should be considered in tandem with our demands for accelerated eligibility for one-year appointments, for prioritization by seniority in the event a canceled class becomes available with an enrollment increase before the start of the semester, and for the university to create 600 new full-time lecturer lines for which current CUNY adjuncts receive preference in hiring. For multi-year appointments, the PSC sought to address the “pressure points” CUNY management identified while maintaining the integrity of the provision and expanding access. We proposed three key improvements: (a) A department can make a 2-year appointment instead of a 3-year appointment to a qualified adjunct if it has experienced a precipitous overall enrollment decline or a significant increase in full-time faculty in relation to adjunct faculty. In such circumstances, the adjunct would remain eligible for a 3-year appointment in the future. (b) An adjunct who has been already appointed to a 3-year appointment but whose department cannot identify the minimum 6 contact hours in a given semester may retain the appointment through an assignment of academically appropriate non-teaching adjunct work in their department or college for an equivalent number of hours to their deficit in teaching hours, through an assignment to cover classes of department colleagues who are absent, through a teaching appointment in the same department in the subsequent summer session or two semesters, or through a teaching appointment in another department at the same college or another CUNY college. (c) In the event that, in the third year of a 3-year appointment, none of the foregoing options is available to a teaching adjunct whose appointment falls below 6 teaching contact hours and whose health insurance depends on this appointment, the college will cover the cost of COBRA. (d) Eligibility for an initial three-year appointment, or any subsequent appointment, can be achieved by teaching 6 contact hours or more in the same department for 8 of the most recent 10 consecutive semesters, not including summer, but including academic programs, not just departments. 

Despite the overall success of Appendix E, the current pilot, since 2017, CUNY management has said that departments need more flexibility to respond to changing enrollment and budget conditions in real time. They claim that in most cases it is possible to forecast two years ahead but not three. The union’s revised proposal was responsive to these concerns while continuing to assert our priorities clearly. The PSC has insisted that the fundamental features of Appendix E must be maintained, and we continue to oppose management’s effort to establish a longer time to qualification of 16 consecutive semesters (a reduction from their initial proposal of 24).

Drawing on the tenacious work of our Health and Safety Watchdogs, the PSC resumed arguments for improving contractual health and safety protections on behalf of our members and students. Our presentation at this session focused on the monitoring and disclosure of air quality to address a cluster of potential threats, including airborne disease, mold spores, smoke particles, and other pollutants. Recalling the testimony at the table from Professor Jean Grassman, the PSC pushed CUNY to become a leader and comply publicly with ASHRAE Standards. We need outcomes that can be verified, including a clean, infection-free airflow, as the COVID pandemic made clear. During this portion of the session, a dozen PSC members held images showing mold problems at City Tech, a decade-long problem. Their visual protest illustrated an ongoing issue – members document threats that go unaddressed or reoccur. The mold problem emerges from a chronic combination of hazards in the air and the disrepair of buildings that leak with seasonal regularity. The union’s presentation referenced the critical effort of our members who participated in facilities walk-throughs during the COVID epidemic to identify and remediate harms caused by inadequate HVAC systems. 

Senior Vice Chancellor Gloria acknowledged the state of disrepair and pointed to the capital money that has come in since Governor Hochul took office. While increased funding is obviously needed, transparency, accountability, and consistent access to data is missing from the current process. Treasurer Felicia Wharton closed with a reminder that we are custodians not only of the health and safety of our members but of our students as well. We have a mutual obligation to improve how we document and remove threats and serious hazards.

PSC dues-paying members are invited to attend our bargaining sessions. The next upcoming orientation to PSC-CUNY bargaining, which is required of all observers, will be offered online on July 9 at 6:30 pm – register here

Bargaining Update 21

At the June 3 bargaining session, the PSC gave CUNY management a comprehensive presentation on how their proposed Bylaw changes are inconsistent with the contract and explained their legal obligation to bargain with the PSC. Along with former PSC First Vice President Steve London (School of Labor & Urban Studies) and outside counsel, President Davis reiterated the primary point made on May 15: the Bylaw changes are a mandatory subject of bargaining as currently formulated, and the PSC is the only appropriate body with which to negotiate over them. The PSC noted that our contractual reappointment, tenure, and promotion procedures are based on the Board of Trustees’ obligation under Article V section 6 of the New York State Constitution. We explained that CUNY’s proposed changes conflict with Article 9 of the collective bargaining agreement and implicate Articles 18 and 19. If implemented, they would affect the contractual duties, responsibilities, and obligations of the Department Chair, Dean, and President with respect to teaching observations and annual evaluations and with the Decanal Evaluation agreement – itself the result of a successful 2011 PSC grievance. Other arbitration decisions over time have clearly linked the Bylaws to several articles of the contract.

CUNY management disagreed that the proposed changes impact the contract, and claimed that the grievance process was the way to resolve potential conflicts. The PSC reasserted that management has interfered with the union’s rights by refusing to bargain over proposed Bylaws changes, in violation of New York State labor law. Our message was clear: stop negotiating with governance bodies other than the union, the exclusive bargaining representative, and engage in mandatory collective bargaining with the PSC. We emphasized the impediment that management had created to reaching a timely contract settlement for our members by pursuing these Bylaw changes while contract negotiations are in progress.

The PSC returned to our proposal for CLIP and CUNY Start instructors to propel negotiations after CUNY resisted improvements to their job security in a previous session. President Davis and outgoing Vice President for Community Colleges Sharon Utakis pressed CUNY management on this demand. CLIP and CUNY Start workers became annualized in the 2010-17 contract; today our goal is to achieve parity with Lecturers, said Professor Utakis, and the data show that many of these employees are continually reappointed and deserve real job security. President Davis pointed to 14 instructors who’ve worked for more than 20 consecutive terms with nothing but yearly contracts. CUNY proudly celebrates the success of CLIP and CUNY Start students – including a tweet that we shared from the Chancellor about a CLIP program student in which he declared, “This is what CUNY is all about!” We agree. Management has stated that the uncertainty of programmatic funding precluded their consideration of Certificates of Continuing Employment for instructors. But the PSC bargaining team demonstrated that these are in fact self-sustaining programs with exceptional records of success, notwithstanding the funding skirmishes that routinely arise in the City budget process. The instructors in these programs spend the greatest number of student-facing hours, and they take pride in supporting developmental education, which the CUNY administration has, over time, shunted into under-resourced areas of the university. Demographically, the need for these two programs is only growing as New York City welcomes new migrants. There’s no excuse for denying a CCE for the long-serving instructors in these programs.

Bargaining Update 20

The May 29 bargaining session included proposals from CUNY management about adjunct job security and a slightly updated “comprehensive” proposal, while the PSC redoubled our effort to improve CLT promotional opportunities and laid groundwork at the table for a counter to management’s vision for adjunct job security. Both parties reported briefly on discussions in the subcommittees on educational technology and distance learning, professional development and research awards, the Hunter College Campus Schools, and the lack of sufficient progress to date in the subcommittee on contract costing.

Undeterred by management’s resistance so far to considering improvements to CLT promotions under Article 22.2, the PSC introduced a slightly modified demand. Bolstered by additional supporting data, the union contended that many CLTs and Senior CLTs become qualified for promotion to a higher title, but their advancement is effectively blocked by the absence of an vacancy in that higher title and/or by the percentage “goals” that Article 22.2(a) establishes for distribution of CLTs across the titles within each college. The union’s demand is to make CLTs or Senior CLTs eligible for promotion when their responsibilities demonstrably expand, they acquire supervisory duties, and/or they demonstrate achievements such as publications, certifications, and advanced degrees. An existing vacancy at the higher rank need not be available. CUNY management responded with questions related to the consistency of our demand with the Code of Practice, where CLT job descriptions are codified. President Davis and bargaining team member Amy Jeu emphasized the principles of fairness and merit motivating the union’s proposal, and the need to update the decades old Code of Practice title descriptions.

CUNY management made some minor improvements to their still inadequate “comprehensive” proposal, updating the April 30 offer. The proposed ratification bonus previously restricted to full-time employees was expanded to include a pro-rata bonus for part-time employees. Management has also offered to extend the current Remote Work Agreement through June 2027, and to make HEOs and CLTs eligible for a $2,500 “annual performance bonus.” A merit bonus such as this would be at the discretion of management and CUNY can already do this. It is unacceptable to the PSC to allow management to use funds from our economic package that would otherwise be in our pockets at their discretion. More promisingly, management agreed to formalize that any promotion or reclassification be accompanied by advancement on the new salary schedule of at least one step, a major step toward the PSC’s proposal of July 10, 2023. However, a number of concessionary demands remain in management’s “comprehensive” proposal, and the funds offered for across-the-board raises, contributions to the Welfare Fund, and salary equity remain too low.

Fitful progress continues on adjunct job security. CUNY management responded with a counter to the PSC’s May 13 demand for a successor to Appendix E on multi-year appointments. Their extensive counter – while an improvement over the previous proposal to require 24 consecutive semesters of service in the same department for a teaching adjunct to qualify for a 2-year appointment – was nonetheless disappointing. It would require 16 consecutive semesters of service teaching six or more contact hours in the same department, a full three years more than Appendix E established. And the ensuing appointment would be for the same number of contact hours, indefinitely, if and only if classes were available that the qualifying adjunct had taught previously. If not, the instructor could lose any of their classes or their entire appointment as late as 15 days prior to the start of the semester. While CUNY management touted this model as “prioritization” through “continuing status,” the PSC expressed objections to its fundamental departure from real job stability, as Appendix E provided. The PSC bargaining team continued to challenge their premises, and objected vigorously to the inevitable impact of their proposal, if implemented, which would allow most adjuncts currently serving on a multi-year appointment into a “prioritization” queue, but contract the eligibility pipeline dramatically for others. President Davis indicated the PSC’s intention to present a counter-proposal at a bargaining session the following week. Too many of our teaching adjuncts have demonstrated their value to our students and academic programs for many years to allow management’s panic about enrollment volatility to undermine this transformative contractual gain.

PSC members continue to show up in large numbers to observe the negotiations and support the bargaining team. If you are interested in doing so but have not yet attended an online orientation to PSC-CUNY bargaining, click here. All PSC members in good standing are welcome.


Bargaining Update 19

CUNY management opened this bargaining session by expressing unwillingness to engage with the PSC on a number of issues, an orientation that reflects management’s indifference to crucial problems faced by PSC members. They refused to acknowledge their obligation under Article 1.2 to negotiate the proposed changes to the CUNY Bylaws that are inconsistent with the contract. President Davis insisted on several conflicts with the contract. These include removing specific work of department chairs and P&B committees from the bargaining unit, among other issues. The PSC will continue to insist on CUNY management’s legal responsibility to negotiate the proposed changes with the union.

CUNY then listed several items from the union’s bargaining demands that they consider No’s and are not interested in pursuing at the table, including various labor management committees the union proposed, increased CLT promotional opportunity, our demands regarding the climate crisis, and the entirety of any improvements regarding our contractual health and safety provisions.  

 In the discussion that followed, President Davis argued that it is outrageous to refuse meaningful movement on non-economic demands. Secretary Penny Lewis noted that “there is some assumption of symmetry on your side, like ‘we have 10 items on our list  and you should have 10 items on yours.’ We might accept such symmetry if you were coming to us with 30% raises like the Board gave upper management, if you shared with us your understanding of the value of your work and the acknowledgement that you need to pay yourself more to remain competitive.” But she pointed out, that’s obviously not the case – there’s extreme asymmetry here, as the compensation flows to the top, while the most meaningful work that defines what a university is, not to mention the absolute majority of that work, is performed by our members. “We have said repeatedly if we look at the history of our bargaining, we see great advances despite the extreme asymmetry that exists with understaffing and incredibly low pay. Those are the conditions in which we come to you with demands that go beyond economics.”

The PSC countered nearly all of CUNY’s No’s with evidence as to why these issues must remain on the table. CUNY similarly countered some of the No’s the union had previously shared by arguing that various pilot programs facing expiration should also remain on the table (i.e., Appendix N governing summer workload at Baruch, and Appendix H, which makes temporary changes to the disciplinary process). But CUNY also expressed resistance to amending Appendix H to allow HEOs to be treated in the same way faculty are treated during discipline. CUNY acknowledged the unequal treatment but pointed to structural differences between the parties (tenure vs. 13.3b). PSC agreed that there are structural differences but said that is exactly why the inequity should be rectified. 

The parties discussed their mutual desire to help professional staff advance. First Vice President Vásquez referenced the recent PSC Staffing and Workload Survey of HEOs, CLTs, and faculty librarians that shows that many employees do not know about opportunities for differentials, reclassification, or professional development funds. PSC wants to expand the salary differential for advanced degrees to include HEO assistants. In response to CUNY’s refusal to add a provision on professional respect to the contract, PSC noted that a lack of respect is especially glaring in CUNY’s denial of our demand for reasons for denial of reclassification. Although HEOs spend many months preparing for reclassification when they believe the preponderance of duties they are performing fall within a higher title, and regardless of the fact that these members usually have the support of their supervisors and sometimes even HR directors, CUNY has yet to move on this important, no-cost demand.

First Vice President Vásquez introduced a summary of a discussion PSC and CUNY had in advance of the session that represents real movement toward including a remote and flexible work provision into the contract. CUNY said that as long as some managerial discretion is maintained they can work with our proposal. The PSC pointed to discrepancies in the implementation of the current remote work policy that raise issues of fairness, such as the total prohibition against remote work at the Brooklyn EOC, which is administered by NYCCT, where remote work is permitted. 

The parties agreed to bargaining sessions on May 29th, June 3rd and June 5th. 

Bargaining Update 18

The parties returned to the table Monday, May 13, with the PSC presenting counter proposals regarding the critical Appendix E pilot regarding multi-year appointments. It was clear in the exchange that among other points of divergence, the parties remain divided on the most critical aspect of the provision, which is job security. CUNY contends that our departments cannot guarantee work to people. The union contends that every time someone is hired, we are guaranteeing work, and that the multi-year appointment barely constrains the radical flexibility that CUNY still has – there are 11,000 teaching adjuncts, roughly 3,000 of whom hold multi-year appointments. The current contractual provisions acknowledge that a department’s fiscal and programmatic outlook can be considered as a department considers multi-year reappointments every three years. CUNY would like to see fiscal and programmatic considerations interrupt an appointment midstream. That is, they would like no real job security over the length of the multi-year appointment.

The PSC recommended modifications to address CUNY’s objections that would create specific, reasonable accommodations but leave intact the core of multi-year security. We outlined numerous ways that a department and college might employ an adjunct whose department cannot identify a sufficient number of courses for them during the term of the multi-year appointment. We suggested paths, including teaching in other departments or even on other CUNY campuses, as alternate stopgap measures that could be employed if a department faces major fiscal or programmatic constraints. But our basic point is that overwhelmingly, given the sheer scale of adjunctification, departments can and do project three years out, and it has only been in a small minority of cases that departments have run into problems with this issue. First Vice President Andrea Vásquez described CUNY’s ongoing effort to undermine job security, and along with it the assurance of health insurance, as “cruel.”

The PSC also presented a counter proposal on lecturer advancement. CUNY management’s proposal indicated that the university is interested in tiering out the full-time faculty even further, by introducing new lecturer titles available to lecturers with doctorates. The union understands that many if not most doctoral lecturers would prefer professorial positions, and the union is also committed to preserving the research function of the university. The union’s counter proposal allows for title advancement for lecturers and monetary advancement for everyone in the lecturer line.

Bargaining Update 17

CUNY management opened the session by declining to substantially counter the economic counter-proposal that the union shared in the previous session (see update #15/16).  CUNY Management raised the constraints of the city and state pattern as creating an externally limited pie that the union is not yet working within, and the need, therefore, for the union to get “realistic” about our expectations. We countered: It is realistic for us to expect CUNY to address decades of underfunding and limited investment in its faculty, staff and students. We demand professional respect, decent benefits, health and safety in our workplaces, resources to do our jobs well, and wages that at least allow us to live where we work, one of the most expensive cities in the country. As professionals who have made the choice to commit our working lives to our students and this university, these should be eminently realistic expectations to hold CUNY, and the City and State, to. 

When management made an economic offer in late March, we noted that it not only failed to keep pace with inflation, it also did not include the full value of other public sector contracts settled in this round of bargaining. President Davis elaborated on this, and challenged the idea of a limited “pie.” In the just-settled state budget, the union’s advocacy brought tens of millions more to CUNY at the last minute, despite having to work against management’s abdication of any expansive vision in this budget round. “The pie is a political artifact,” President Davis observed, and he once again challenged CUNY’s leadership to take seriously its role of fighting for an acceptable economic settlement.

Management indicated its willingness to meet in a subcommittee about Graduate demands and another regarding workload.  They also presented six counter proposals to various PSC demands. Unfortunately, CUNY used some of their counters to re-introduce proposals that the union has already argued strongly against. For example, CUNY countered the PSC’s proposal to expand the HEO titles eligible for salary differentials based on the earning of advanced degrees by tying it to their proposal that HEOs teach voluntarily, for no extra pay, during their regular hours. Similarly, what should be a routine expansion of the state-based Paid Family Leave from 8-12 weeks (which CUNY’s other employees, including management, and other state workers, are now entitled to) was tied, in CUNY’s counter, to a number of questionable CUNY proposals. On the other hand, there were some counters that indicated positive movement from management, such as making regular the practice of salary increases with promotion for faculty titles. Other proposals included a counter to the union’s ideas concerning full-time lecturer promotion, where CUNY’s proposal would drastically tier out the full-time faculty even further than is already the case. In all, the PSC asked preliminary questions about all of these proposals, and will consider what we can work with as we move ahead.


Bargaining Updates #15 and 16

At the April 11th session, the first following CUNY management’s comprehensive proposal, the PSC responded to the insufficiencies and problems with their initial framework. On the economics, management has presented a “pattern conforming” proposal, one that works within the bounds set by other state and city unions in this bargaining round. PSC President James Davis spoke to the problems with this approach. The proposed salary increases fall woefully behind the inflation we have experienced in recent years. Among the basic costs of living, housing costs in particular are astronomical in NYC. In the nationally competitive industry of higher education, CUNY must pay its employees enough to live where they work. But at our current salaries, too many PSC  members meet the formal definition of rent-burdened, given current average rents in the five boroughs. The PSC has identified areas of value beyond the across-the-board raises in other public-sector contracts in this round and told CUNY management they are accountable for realizing that value for our members. Management must work with the state and city to bring more money to the table, the PSC bargaining team insisted.

 The PSC also responded to management’s list of proposals included in their comprehensive settlement offer. On these, the union indicated those we would consider bargaining over, such as the PSC-CUNY Research Awards. We also identified pilot agreements that we are not interested in extending, such as the Appendix H accelerated disciplinary procedures and the Appendix N summer workload credit for faculty teaching in Baruch year-round graduate programs; and proposals we would not accept, such as givebacks management is seeking on job security for adjuncts, HEOs, and lecturers.

 The PSC is developing counters to some of CUNY management’s proposals and expects them to do the same with ours. The PSC is not going to bargain against ourselves, we noted, especially when management’s responses to many of our contract demands have been negligible. We represent 30,000 employees in many titles at the university, so our contract is complex; it must address many different positions with varying conditions. The PSC will represent the needs of all our members, and that means making progress for many titles and in core areas of need. The PSC therefore urged CUNY to engage seriously with the breadth of our demands and pull concessionary demands off the table.

To begin the April 18th session, President Davis reminded CUNY management that the state legislative session ends in June, PSC members have gone more than a year without a contract, and that the best effort must be made to reach a strong settlement quickly. To get there, he added, CUNY management must improve the economic package, withdraw concessionary demands and withdraw the proposed changes to the CUNY bylaws, as they are inconsistent with the contract.

In further response to CUNY management’s comprehensive proposal of March 27, the PSC presented an economic counter proposal that would meet our members’ real needs. Management had proposed a 4 ½ year contract with across-the-board raises every 13 months for four years. With pay retroactive to June 2023, the raises that management proposed total a compounded 12.82% over the contract. They included funds for additional equity raises, an increased Welfare Fund contribution to support our supplemental benefits, and a $3,000 ratification bonus – a feature of other public sector contracts in this round – but restricted the proposed bonus to full-time employees. PSC’s counter proposal included areas of salary equity that will require more money than management proposed, a higher Welfare Fund contribution, pay that is fully retroactive for all members back to the start of the contract, and annual across-the-board raises of 5.5% in 2023, 5.5% in 2024, 3.5% in 2025, and 3.5% in 2026 for a total compounded rate of 19.23%.

The PSC bargaining team emphasized that although inflation has declined recently, the tremendous inflation in 2021-2022 eroded the real value of PSC member salaries; hence the need to frontload stronger increases. The union’s economic demands are what our members deserve, especially after the pandemic. CUNY competes nationally for academic and professional talent, President Davis reiterated, and must deal with the cost of living where we work. These were the very points the CUNY Board of Trustees made when approving large raises to upper administration employees in 2021-2022. The Board should demonstrate a similar commitment to the instructional staff. 

CUNY management responded that they highly value the faculty and staff as central to the work of the University, but whatever our members may deserve, the PSC proposal is “unrealistic” given the constraints in which CUNY operates as a publicly funded entity. Is it realistic, we replied, for our members to continue to watch the value of our paychecks shrink, devote unsustainable percentages of their pay towards housing and other rising costs of living in or near NYC, and take on more work as colleagues leave for greener pastures? It is entirely realistic for CUNY management to recognize the historic underinvestment in our pay, respect the outstanding work of their employees, and bring an offer to the table that meets our needs. CUNY management must commit, we insisted, to seeking creative paths to funding a just contract.  

Subcommittees on adjunct multi-year appointments, educational technology, professional development, and contract costing have been meeting. Some progress has been made, and the PSC hopes to reach an agreement on adjunct multi-year appointments at the main bargaining table before the May 15 deadline for fall appointments. 

If you’re angry about CUNY’s inadequate economic offer and working 14 months without a contract and ready to fight back against their attacks on our job security, join us in escalating the campaign. 

Upcoming bargaining sessions are scheduled for April 30 from 3-6pm at CUNY, May 13 from 11am-3pm at the PSC, and May 15 from 11am-3pm at the PSC. As always, PSC members are encouraged to attend. The next online orientation to PSC-CUNY bargaining, required of all observers, is scheduled for May 13 at 6:30pm on Zoom. Members are also reminded of the importance of participating in the public actions of our contract campaign. We need all of us in the fight for a strong contract. No one can do this for us. It is our numbers and conviction that will win the day: 


Bargaining Updates #13 and 14

The PSC held two important bargaining sessions with CUNY management on March 22 and March 27. 

We began the March 22 session by raising serious objections to the revisions that the CUNY administration proposed earlier in the month to the bylaws and Manual of General Policy. The union had expressed these objections to the Chancellor in a recent labor management committee meeting. Some of the proposals deal directly with contractual provisions and must be negotiated with the PSC. President James Davis observed that CUNY’s intention to make major bylaw changes that are inconsistent with the contract during intensifying contract negotiations threatens to further impede the already delayed bargaining process. The PSC then put forward a number of new proposals. They include that CUNY:

  • Extend Paid Parental Leave from 8 to 12 weeks, aligned with the provision for state employees and CUNY staff in excluded titles.
  • Increase financial contributions to the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund jointly with the PSC.
  • Compensate faculty whose class size exceeds by 20% or more the expected enrollment indicated in approved governance documents. 
  • Permit accrual of sick leave for non-teaching adjuncts, teaching adjuncts, and adjunct CLTs.
  • Encourage departmental search committees to refer candidates who receive job offers to the union to inform them about the contract.
  • Move Research Associates and Research Professors into salary schedules and eligibility for Certificates of Continuous Employment, and give Research Professors whose appointments are contingent on external funding sufficient notice and, when necessary, pay to bridge gaps between funding streams.
  • Extend eligibility for Scholar Incentive Awards to professional staff and adjuncts on multi-year appointments so that they may pursue externally funded research projects without a break in service.

 The PSC understands regulating class size to be a common good. President Davis insisted that the number of students in a class directly affects not only the instructor’s workload but also the student’s experience. That is why the union demanded additional compensation for any class for which the enrollment exceeds the expectation indicated on State Education Department-approved curriculum documents. CUNY questioned the timing of the demand, when some colleges are still struggling with enrollment. President Davis noted that a frequent response from management to fluctuating enrollment has been to close classes and increase the size of the remaining sections. The result has been to cram students into available classes, compromising their learning and piling additional work on instructors. This story repeats at campuses across the system. At a time when our students arrive with greater needs than ever, pedagogically appropriate class size must be safeguarded, and instructors must be compensated for significant additions to workload. There is a reason, for example, that composition, capstone, and writing intensive courses are capped at a lower number than others. To serve our students well, faculty must be properly supported. Doubling the compensation would appropriately disincentive administrations from raising capstone caps from 10 to 15, composition caps from 20 to 25, and online courses of all kinds by adding 10, 15, or 20 students beyond their intended enrollment, as has occurred.

 CUNY proposed that certain demands be added to discussion in subcommittees. Those subcommittees are currently discussing costing the contract, educational technology, professional development, and adjunct multi-year appointments. From the PSC, they include members of the bargaining team and rank and file members, and CUNY sends members of their bargaining team and other administrators. Subcommittee deliberations will ultimately return to the main table, but the parties agree that efficient work may be done concurrently at multiple tables. The PSC did not consent to expand their scope at this point.

CUNY management explained they would not present additional counter-proposals beyond their (regressive) counter-proposal on multi-year appointments until the union finishes introducing all initial proposals. The PSC pressed management for responses nonetheless, as the sessions have been characterized by little to no discussion or response from management. We have shown our willingness to respond to CUNY’s proposals throughout the process, asking questions and pointing out issues as we see them; similar engagement from CUNY is necessary for the parties to make progress.

At the March 27 bargaining session, the PSC finished introducing our initial demands. Secretary Penny Lewis introduced a demand to increase the number of annual leave days for Library faculty to 60, aligning them with other full-time faculty and supporting them to meet their research expectations. First Vice President Andrea Vásquez presented a PSC demand to maintain HEOs on payroll during disciplinary proceedings, as other full-time employees are. President Davis introduced demands for graduate workers, including significant increases to and standardization of funding packages, and the provision of NYSHIP health insurance for all doctoral candidates. He also put forward a proposal to extend eligibility for multi-year appointments to non-teaching adjuncts, adjunct CLTs, and teaching adjuncts at the Educational Opportunity Centers. Completing the introduction of PSC’s initial contract demands has clarified the stakes of this round of bargaining. In contrast to CUNY management’s “value-based” bargaining agenda which anticipates and accepts continued austerity, the PSC demands describe a revitalized public university where research, teaching, professional advancement, and support for the whole student and a diverse student population are respected.  

CUNY management, newly eager to complete negotiations by the state budget deadline of April 1, took an important step in negotiations; they offered the PSC bargaining team a comprehensive proposal to settle the contract. While the across-the-board raises in their offer resembled those approved by other New York City and State unions in their latest contracts, management’s proposal as written would deprive PSC members of many hard-won rights and benefits that prior rounds of negotiations secured and sustained. The salary offer that CUNY proposed is tethered to a number of unacceptable demands, including the erosion of job security for HEOs and long-serving teaching adjuncts, placement of the PSC-CUNY awards and PSC professional development funds under administrative direction, and compromising summer annual leave for the full-time faculty, among other things. Management’s proposal nodded to the union’s demand for remote work and flexible scheduling, but only by extending the current policy, not by devising a contractual provision. Management’s proposal also offers a $3,000 bonus upon ratification of the contract, but only to full-time faculty and staff. This is inconsistent with several other recent public sector contracts, which include prorated bonuses for part-time employees. Management’s proposal omitted other key PSC priorities altogether. For these reasons, the PSC did not accept the comprehensive proposal of March 27 and committed to moving the negotiations forward with further deliberations. 

However, PSC members should know what was offered on salary. Their opening proposal is a 4 ½ year agreement with the following schedule of across-the-board raises and retroactive pay to June 1, 2023.

  • 2023: 3%
  • 2024: 3%
  • 2025: 3.125%
  • 2026: 3.125%

Additional funds are set aside for wage equity increases and an increase in the per capita contributions to the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund.

This proposal represents a serious economic offer and a step forward in the negotiations. Until this session, thirteen months since the last contract expired, management’s failure to counter the union’s economic proposal slowed our progress. Nevertheless, their offer does not meet the real needs of PSC members. We are pleased that the efforts of PSC members throughout the contract campaign succeeded in moving management from their initial position – a 3-year contract with no retroactive pay. But further movement by CUNY is necessary for the PSC to reach a settlement. A strong and just contract is what PSC members deserve, and an informed and mobilized membership, coupled with an escalating contract campaign, will continue to bolster our struggle to achieve that goal.

Bargaining update #12

At the February 29th bargaining session, PSC marked one year working on an expired contract by introducing 11 new proposals that would make our university stronger and build on progress in previous rounds. With an impressive 104 members present to observe, and simultaneous contract actions happening at seventeen CUNY campuses, the PSC showed again that we can bargain and organize to show our collective commitment to a just contract.

The PSC proposals included expansions of adjunct health insurance while teaching and when retired; increased reassigned time for professors post-tenure; fair pay for essential workers; inclusion of Research Professors under the current university wide cap on contingent full-time teaching positions; a labor-management committee to review job descriptions in the CUNY code of practice; and more reassigned time for union work, which would also be available to adjuncts serving on multi-year appointments.

The PSC was proud to introduce common good demands to help recruit and retain a racially diverse faculty and to compel specific steps from CUNY to combat climate change. We want to establish designated funding accessible to departments seeking to diversify the applicant pool and compete successfully for highly qualified candidates from underrepresented groups. We also demanded a reassigned time fund to compensate faculty who provide exceptional service in mentoring, advising, or outreach to first-generation students or students from traditionally underrepresented groups. Curbing single-use plastics and CUNY’s carbon emissions were addressed in other demands that the PSC introduced. 

CUNY management put forward the remainder of their proposals—with the glaring exceptions of an economic offer or remote work provision. Management’s demands continue to show their detachment from the reality on our campuses and misapprehension of the value of their workforce. Most egregious was CUNY’s long awaited counter proposal on Appendix E, the pilot program on multi-year appointments for teaching adjuncts that has run successfully for nearly eight years. Despite expressing opposition last summer, management indicated their willingness to bargain over this critical provision, a national model for containing the extreme contingency experienced by over 10,000 CUNY teaching adjuncts each year. PSC has indicated responsiveness to concerns raised by department chairs and others. But on February 29, CUNY proposed a threshold of 24 consecutive semesters of unbroken teaching of 6 credits or more in the same department to qualify for a two-year appointment. And that two-year appointment could be broken by the administration at their whim, so even at this extreme new eligibility requirement, the corresponding commitment from the college would be negligible. PSC opposes such a fundamental reversal of a successful pilot and will negotiate the adjunct multi-year appointment provision aggressively.

While CUNY proposed removing HEOs employed in multiple work locations from the bargaining unit for unspecified “conflicts of interest,” the PSC demanded that SEEK and College Discovery directors, currently excluded from our bargaining unit, be added. CUNY has also proposed delaying reappointment deadlines to an extent that would greatly disadvantage PSC members. 

As they previously proposed for two professional development funds that serve HEOs/CLTs and Adjuncts, CUNY again disregarded bargaining history to propose that the PSC CUNY Research Awards – which were funded in lieu of raises we might otherwise have received – be repurposed to make up for the administration’s failure to properly fund the professional development and research that fulfills their institutional goals. Management seeks to direct these awards to a narrower range of faculty as “seed money” for external funding, rather than the broad and varied research and creative needs of all the instructional staff. While there is a clear shared interest in faculty securing external research funding, the starvation of grants offices at the colleges over the past decade has been the single most severe impediment, not the misallocation of PSC CUNY awards, which have demonstrably advanced the university’s profile in research and scholarship.

Bargaining Update #11

Feb. 7th marked the 11th contract negotiation session and nearly 30 PSC members joined the bargaining team at CUNY Central for what was both a constructive and frustrating meeting. CUNY management continued to bring forward proposals that would offload managerial responsibilities onto workers and erode job security for more titles. Other proposals would limit benefits and curtail leave for librarians, counselors, and clinical professors. Management voiced interest in expanding the stipends provision negotiated in the last contract for certain defined projects that are not part of the employee’s normal responsibilities. The stipends are currently a pilot program due to expire in June. They also proposed changes to the observation and evaluation process for faculty teaching in-person and online.

In a stroke of extreme parsimony, management proposed that contractual provisions that stipulate sufficient office space for faculty be struck, and that retirees be denied CUNY email addresses after one year. A generous read of these demands is ignorance of industry norms and expectations, and the compacts that universities enter into with the faculty and staff whose labor upholds the mission of the institution. The bargaining team and member observers found these CUNY management proposals disrespectful and lacking awareness of the real conditions of work of PSC members.

The PSC put forward proposals in the following areas: CLIP and CUNY Start job security and other advances, CLT promotions, lecturer advancement, additional support for department chairs, and labor management committees on retirement issues and professional respect in the workplace.

CLIP Instructor Craig Chesler described the teaching excellence that colleagues in the CLIP and CUNY Start programs have brought to their work, in some cases for over a decade, without increases in job security. Creating a Certificate of Continuous Employment for these titles is one key aspect of the proposals that the PSC brought forward to align the rights and benefits of these full-time faculty with other full-time faculty at CUNY.

Similarly, President James Davis and bargaining team member Amy Jeu described the need for changes to the promotional opportunities afforded College Laboratory Technicians, whose capacity for advancement is artificially capped by CUNY’s current practices. Bringing promotional practices into alignment with the ways in which other full-time titles are considered for advancement is a key demand for the close to 500 full-time CLTs CUNY-wide.

Lecturers, similarly, are not paid enough, and are not recognized for the achievements and excellence they bring after years of teaching and service. Increasing base pay for the title, and building in recognition for achievement of CCE and longevity, were demands presented by PSC Secretary Penny Lewis, with the support of lecturers on the bargaining team, PSC Treasurer and BEOC doctoral lecturer in Mathematics Felicia Wharton and Jennifer Gaboury, Hunter College lecturer in Gender Studies. In order to accelerate and facilitate the promotion of lecturers with terminal degrees into professorial titles, the team called for the creation of 75 professorial lines dedicated to current qualified lecturers.

The session ended with a discussion of the speed and process that the two sides of the table would like to see moving forward. The PSC would like to settle the contract this semester, and management has expressed a desire for even faster timing. But achieving the strong contract that all PSC members deserve is the team’s priority, and our timeframe must operate in relation to that goal. Given management’s extensive delays, including a three-month hiatus between October and January, their sudden urgency is, as President Davis has noted, “painfully ironic.”

The next bargaining session, on February 29, coincides with the one-year anniversary of our contract expiration. This is a critical moment to show management that PSC members are fed up and are ready to fight for a strong contract now. On that day, we aim to finish presenting our demands to CUNY and simultaneously, PSC members across CUNY will be conducting informational picketing at their campuses. We have room for 120 members to attend negotiations at the PSC. Sign up here to attend a bargaining observer orientation and here for an informational picket and for other upcoming activities.


Bargaining Update #10

At the first bargaining session in three months, with close to 60 members observing, the PSC bargaining team was finally able to regain momentum that was lost due to CUNY’s delays. The team put forward nine demands that speak to members’ urgent needs and we pushed CUNY management on many fronts.

The PSC reaffirmed our commitment to moving expeditiously to a strong settlement for our members. Incredibly, CUNY management’s bargaining team, which included a new lead negotiator hired from outside the university, expressed impatience with the pace of the negotiations. President James Davis indicated the absurdity of asking the union to hurry, as it was management that refused to come to the table for the first four months after the contract expired, and management that effectively suspended negotiations for an additional three months from October 26 until January 26. The PSC consistently sought to schedule additional bargaining sessions – where was the urgency from management then?

Management reported on the tentative agreement made recently with the unions representing 10,000 CUNY non-pedagogical employees, who have been without a contract since June 2021. President Davis reiterated the PSC’s position that our members, who have endured salary erosion and cost of living increases, deserve raises that beat inflation. He expressed the PSC’s impatience with management’s failure to make an economic offer and reminded them that the one-year anniversary of our contract’s expiration is fast approaching.

The PSC bargaining team has been working hard, and President Davis, First Vice President Andrea Vásquez, Treasurer Felicia Wharton, and Secretary Penny Lewis were able to present nine demands. These demands dealt mainly with matters of workload, equity, and professional respect.

  • Reduction of the number of annual reappointments before HEO-series employees become eligible for Article 13.3b job security (Certificate of Continuing Academic Service), from 8 to 5 years.
  • Enhanced provision of tuition waivers for teaching adjuncts, non-teaching adjuncts, adjunct CLTs, CLIP and CUNY Start Instructors, and the children and step-children of PSC-represented employees.
  • Consistent application of existing college policies for full-time faculty on contact-hour multiples for large-size classes to adjunct faculty and graduate assistants.
  • Fair compensation for instructors whose assigned classes are canceled within two weeks of the start of the semester.
  • Fair compensation for late paychecks.
  • A reduction of the annual contractual teaching load of Educational Opportunity Center full-time instructors to 24 contact hours/year.
  • A prohibition against budgetary considerations forming the basis of denials of fellowship leave applications.
  • Expansion of the information the university is required to provide the PSC to support enforcement of the collective bargaining agreement.
  • The PSC also identified key areas in which the Hunter College Campus Schools contractual provisions must be improved

CUNY offered little to no response, but the PSC pushed for preliminary feedback. VC Doriane Gloria questioned the union’s position that improved job security and tuition waiver enhancements are non-economic demands. The PSC reiterated our expectation that CUNY bring counter-proposals on remote work and flexible scheduling and adjunct multi-year appointments.

The PSC has made the initial presentation of many significant demands, but many others remain, and they are critical. While we share CUNY management’s eagerness to reach an agreement by the end of this spring, we will not give short shrift to members’ needs to satisfy an artificial timeline. We intend to move as efficiently as possible to a strong agreement; this will take the collective voice and collective strength of all PSC members demonstrating unity in support of our demands. Our member observers did just that – the support, encouragement and sharp analysis of the 60 observers fortified the team.

Regardless of rank or job title, all of us have a stake in the outcome of this contract.

Upcoming bargaining sessions are February 7, 1-5 pm, at CUNY Central, and February 29, 1-5 pm, at the PSC. In order to attend a bargaining session, members need to attend an online orientation for bargaining observers; the next two are Feb 14 from 1-2 pm, and March 4 from 6:30-7:30 pm. And please stay tuned for contract campaign actions to come.

Bargaining Update #9

PSC demands at the table continue to reflect our vision for A People’s CUNY. Management demands continue to pursue expanded contingency of employment and reduced job security, and seek to erode some hard-won gains from previous contract negotiations. At the October 26 bargaining session, with 35 members observing, the PSC presented several critical demands related to educational technology and distance learning. CUNY management presented demands to expand the number of non-tenure track full-time positions and the duration of their appointments, to remove protections from contractual disciplinary procedures, and to convert the union’s professional development funds into training funds for goals and initiatives identified by the administration.

The PSC’s demands were developed in consultation with member experts with deep experience in online learning, educational technologies, and intellectual property, working from the DA-approved bargaining agenda, section D. PSC President James Davis and Secretary Penny Lewis argued for the urgent need for our contract to address the changes to our terms and conditions of employment resulting from the University’s rapid expansion into online teaching and learning. The union seeks to ensure that faculty and staff are adequately paid and supported for their work in these areas, and to protect shared governance and academic freedom.

The bargaining team was fortunate to be joined by two contributors to the development of the educational technology demands, Roxanne Shirazi, library faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center, and Steve London, former PSC first vice president and current chair of Urban Studies at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. Professor London spoke to the bargaining history between the parties on issues related to distance learning and educational technology. Professor Shirazi, an elected governance leader, stressed the need for faculty and staff expertise and the importance of centering faculty rights in decisions regarding pedagogy.

CUNY management proposed removing the contractual limitations on the number of Distinguished Lecturers and Clinical Professors at the University and the duration of their appointments. These are full-time, non-tenure bearing titles. The union observed that if schools need a Clinical Professor of Distinguished Lecturer longer than the current contractual provision of seven years, they can be offered a tenure-track professorial appointment, which is already available at the CUNY School of Medicine. CUNY management also proposed making permanent the piloted changes to the disciplinary procedure, and adding provisions that could impair the union’s ability to defend our members, including accelerating the time to arbitration. Such a change would more quickly resolve disciplinary charges, CUNY management claimed. The union pointed out that delays in the process are often management’s, or are otherwise outside the PSC’s control, and management’s proposal misapplied incentives solely to the union without reference to the administration.

Troublingly, CUNY management proposed structural changes to administration and purpose of the two professional development funds for HEOs, CLTs, NTAs, Lecturers, Graduate Assistants, CLIP and CUNY Start Instructors, and Adjuncts. For decades our contractual agreement has been a peer review of funding requests, administered by the union, a procedure that has successfully funded hundreds of CUNY employees each year. CUNY’s demand is for these funds, which are paid for entirely by our contract settlements, to instead be jointly administered and requests jointly reviewed. Most grants to professional staff support their attendance at conferences and professional development coursework, but CUNY seeks more direction of the funds’ expenditures. The union observed that CUNY itself is responsible for providing the professional development that the administration wants for its employees.

The PSC is eager to schedule November bargaining sessions with CUNY management and will keep members apprised of these dates and orientation sessions for members who wish to observe. The next orientation is November 6 at 6:30pm on Zoom.

Bargaining Update #8

The October 5, 2023 bargaining session was held at CUNY Central with thirty PSC member-observers present. In previous sessions, PSC presented our demand for salary increases with reference to other major colleges and universities in the tri-state area (see Bargaining Update #3 below). Initially, CUNY management countered our comparisons with salary data from 278 colleges and universities across the entire northeast U.S. The PSC objected to the invalid, overbroad comparison, and on October 5 management responded with a narrower range of comparators within a 150-mile radius of New York City. PSC said that despite having refocused the salary data, management’s approach remains misleading, primarily because it does not account for our high cost of living. The crux of our argument for real raises, we reiterated, is that our current salaries fail to recognize the value of the work we perform and the expense of living and working in the city.

CUNY management also responded to the PSC’s proposal on multi-year appointments for long-serving teaching adjuncts, as provided under Appendix E of the contract. While management expressed its intention in a July 5 memo to the colleges to end the pilot program, the PSC proposed ways to expand and improve it at the September 20 session.

  • Teaching adjuncts would be eligible for multi-year appointments after teaching at least 12 contact hours per year, inclusive of summers, at the same college for three consecutive years.
  • Adjuncts who are, or have already been, appointed to two consecutive multi-year appointments would be eligible for a Certificate of Continuous Employment (CCE).
  • Six hundred full-time lecturer lines would be created for adjuncts who have earned or have qualified for a CCE.
  • Colleges would create a college-wide rehire list, to be used if adjuncts who are eligible for multi-year appointments are non-appointmented for fiscal or programmatic reasons.

CUNY management acknowledged the value of teaching adjuncts but expressed their view of the pilot program’s shortcomings: It is difficult for departments to accurately forecast fiscal and programmatic needs more than one year in advance. There is no opportunity to offer eligible adjuncts appointments of less than three years. Not every teaching adjunct who is eligible for a three-year appointment wants one. Shortages of available classes in a given semester have led to appointments that include non-teaching hours. Despite taking issue with the pilot program, CUNY management expressed willingness to negotiate with the PSC on multi-year appointments. One problematic view that management asserted is that the pilot program has “prioritized job security over the quality of instruction.” The PSC believes there are talented instructors in all faculty ranks. Only those teaching adjuncts whose performance has been reviewed and recommended by their departments’ Personnel and Budget committees after ten consecutive semesters of service are eligible for multi-year appointments under Appendix E. Management’s assertion of a tension between job security and educational quality is spurious. President Davis reiterated the PSC’s commitment to preserving and expanding multi-year appointments for long-serving teaching adjuncts at CUNY by continuing negotiations with CUNY management.

The PSC then proposed modifications to the contract to better protect the health and safety of our members and students. President Davis explained the union’s demands, based on section G of the bargaining agenda. PSC members indicated their priority in the 2022 member survey, in which 88% of respondents said that strengthening contractual health and safety provisions was very important or somewhat important to them. Many years of deferred maintenance on the campuses mean that only 8% of CUNY buildings are considered to be in a state of good repair, Davis said, and more than $5 billion in new capital funding is needed to address the current deferred maintenance backlog, according to CUNY’s latest budget request. In this context, it is urgent that the contract ensure a workplace that is not only “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious harm to its employees,” as it currently states, but also “free of physical or environmental conditions that interfere with teaching and learning or with the ability of employees to perform their assigned duties,” as proposed. The pandemic exposed the inadequacy of many CUNY facilities, Davis continued, and despite the upgrades and repairs made over the past three years, too many facilities remain vulnerable or unsafe, and PSC members deserve stronger contractual protections.

CUNY Graduate School of Public Health Professor Jean Grassman, an industrial hygienist who has helped lead the union’s Environmental Health and Safety Committee for more than a decade and expertly guided us through the pandemic period, explained the necessity of the changes that the union seeks. Among them are stronger baseline standards for safety and health, improved enforcement capacity to ensure that the standards are met, regular public reporting on air quality, water quality and availability, and facilities maintenance, and regular meetings of campus-based labor management committees dedicated to health and safety issues. Professor Grassman provided many examples of practical steps the university administration should take to comply with current industry standards and inspire trust among the campus community. CUNY management did not have initial questions or comments on the presentation of the union’s health and safety proposals but said there was a lot to consider.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Thursday, October 26, 2:00-4:30 pm, at CUNY Central Office.


Bargaining Update #7

The PSC presented two sets of demands to management on Wednesday, September 20, with the help of several member presenters and in the presence of fifty other member observers. The first proposal concerned remote and flexible work: the union is demanding that non-teaching instructional staff and library faculty have the right to work remotely at least 40% of the time, with limited exceptions where job responsibilities preclude it. For different roles, remote work might be regularly scheduled weekly throughout the year, while for others it may vary based on what’s best for an office or department — more in person for particular times of the year, entirely remote at other times. The union also proposed fourteen days advance notice for any changes to one’s schedule and bringing parts of CUNY’s flexible work policy directly into the contract. PSC members Michelle Doney (HEO, Baruch), Rulisa Galloway-Perry (HEO, John Jay) and Mariana Regalado (Library faculty, Brooklyn) spoke to the success and effectiveness of remote and flexible work for their departments, schools, students and colleagues, and the need for a contractual guarantee of remote assignments and flexibility for retention, recruitment, and respect.

The second set of demands concerned the multi-year appointments for adjuncts instituted as a pilot program in the 2010-2017 contract, and renewed in the 2017-2023 contract. Hunter department chair Catherine Raissiguier, LaGuardia adjunct and bargaining team member Youngmin Seo, Queens College adjunct Kate Schnur, and Medgar Evers lecturer and bargaining team member David Hatchett spoke to the immediate and less obvious benefits that this measure of job security has not only brought the teaching adjuncts themselves, but the departments they work in and the students they teach. The union proposed that the pilot be made permanent, and expanded and improved in a variety of ways: shortening the time to qualify, expanding the routes to qualification across the departments and including summer teaching, establishing a Certificate of Continuous Employment, and formalizing a path toward full-time employment for adjuncts who serve in multi-year appointments through the creation of 600 lecturer lines for which these instructors receive preference in hiring. The union also called for the creation of a college-wide rehire list, to be used in the case of adjuncts with multi-year appointments losing their appointments for fiscal or programmatic reasons.

Management did not put forward any demands, but shared informational items regarding salaries and turnover rates at CUNY in comparison to other institutions. Among other challenges, for the second time, the union questioned management’s attempt to use aggregated data from the College and University Professional Association from 278 Northeast universities, citing the self-evident “apples to oranges” problem of measuring our NYC area salaries against statewide norms in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York State, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The bargaining team has consistently pointed out that living in or close to New York City is not comparable to the geographic region that CUNY management would scale our salaries against.

Bargaining Update #6

The PSC bargaining team was joined by dozens of members Wednesday, September 6 for the sixth session with CUNY. President James Davis shared four of the union’s proposals for salary equity:

  • The Continuing Education Teacher minimum hourly rate shall be equal to the minimum hourly rate of the CUNY Start (annualized) salary.
  • In addition to across-the-board raises, each step on the Chief College Laboratory Technician, Senior College Laboratory Technician, and College Laboratory Technician salary schedules shall be increased by $10,000.
  • In addition to across-the-board raises, the rate of pay for adjunct Lecturers shall be no less than ⅛ of 80 percent of the median step of the full-time Lecturer salary schedule. The adjunct Lecturer hourly rate shall be modified accordingly.
  • In addition to across-the-board raises, each step on the Assistant to Higher Education Officer salary schedule shall be increased by $4,000.

For each demand presentation, Davis explained that the union has consistently demanded additional salary on the base for employees in these titles, who are among the lowest paid members of our bargaining unit. People of color comprise the majority of the Assistant to Higher Education Officer and College Laboratory Technician titles, underscoring the racial disparities in pay at CUNY and the racial justice of increasing the salaries in these titles. Similarly, many Continuing Education programs serve non-traditional and diverse students, many of whom find a path to higher education through the dedicated work of their too-often underpaid Continuing Education Teachers.

Concerning the issue of parity pay for teaching adjuncts, Davis shared this graph, comparing the total number of full-time and adjunct faculty at CUNY over the past two decades:

A bar graph showing that the number of adjuncts working at CUNY has increased far more since 2000 than the number of full-time faculty has increased.
Drawing attention to the years of austerity budgets at CUNY, he observed that the adjunctification of the faculty has effectively subsidized the university – through the underpaid and contingent labor of teaching adjuncts. It is time for teaching adjuncts to receive equal pay for the teaching work they do.

Bargaining team members Amy Jeu (Hunter College, CLT) and Lynne Turner (Graduate Center, Teaching Adjunct) spoke to specific demands. On the issue of equity raises for CLT titles, Jeu explained that CLT roles and responsibilities have dramatically transformed and expanded since the title was created decades ago, while salaries have remained uncompetitive and out of step with other professional staff. Turner elaborated the myriad ways in which the expertise and pedagogical skill of teaching adjuncts supports student success, “yet we are paid approximately half what full-time faculty are for teaching the same class next door or down the hall.”

Davis argued that the union and university have the opportunity to build on the progress the parties made in previous rounds to make the needed investments in these members who make the university strong. Achieving pay parity for adjunct faculty, he continued, would constitute a major breakthrough for CUNY and benefit the entire academic community.

CUNY management shared five additional proposals with the union. They included an expansion of the “job abandonment” definition to strengthen management’s hand; greater managerial discretion to modify the annual leave year governing time accrued by the non-teaching instructional staff; making notice of non-reappointment effective on the administration’s sending date rather than on the employee’s date of receipt; increasing the 180% cap on “salaries above base” and expanding eligibility to contingent visiting titles; and making the provisions in the Appendix N pilot program, which allow faculty to accrue workload credit for summer teaching rather than salary, permanent and universal across CUNY. In response, Davis expressed preliminary concerns that, taken together, these proposals would increase job insecurity and contingency while increasing managerial control, serve to further stratify the bargaining unit, and threaten faculty workload and research time. In addition to the discussions of the union’s proposals and those introduced by CUNY management, Davis reiterated the PSC position that an economically just contract for the faculty and staff is a reasonable expectation despite the university’s fiscal challenges. The PSC is seeking an economic offer from CUNY management as soon as possible.

Bargaining Update #5

The PSC bargaining team continues to press ahead to accomplish as much as possible this summer. In its August 22 session with CUNY, the PSC bargaining team – joined by a dozen PSC members observing – began with a rejoinder to CUNY’s August 8 overview of their bargaining agenda (read CUNY management’s demands here). President Davis indicated the union’s willingness to review proposals from CUNY management but expressed the union’s objection to the direction that management’s bargaining agenda sought to take the University. The PSC bargaining agenda goes to the heart of what will improve the quality of a CUNY education by taking care of the people who make the university run, he noted – more job stability and less precariousness, better wages and benefits, and a more just academic community – while management’s agenda seems motivated by three concerns: (1) to reduce operating costs at the expense of PSC members and educational quality; (2) to maximize managerial authority and “flexibility,” which means less job security for PSC members and fewer opportunities for advancement and promotion; (3) to diminish the union’s ability to represent our members effectively. 


Rather than accept the cramped horizon of an institution defined by “structural deficits,” as management calls the budget gaps at several CUNY colleges, the PSC called on the administration to look up from the ledger-sheet and advocate for the contract we deserve. We insisted that they obtain the funding from Albany and City Hall that honors the extraordinary work we do with the students who attend CUNY – the funding necessary to fairly compensate the faculty and professional staff who brought CUNY through the pandemic, having already endured years of austerity.


The PSC has proposed annual salary increases of 8 percent in the first two years followed by 4 percent in each of the subsequent three years. CUNY has not made a counter-proposal. We strongly objected to CUNY management’s assertion that our contract would not include a salary adjustment retroactive to the end-date of the last contract; other recent public sector agreements with the City and State have included retro-pay, and the PSC will fight for ours too. We rejected management’s arguments that CUNY’s current salaries for full-time faculty and staff are already competitive with comparable institutions. We countered the data purporting to support these arguments with our own. It is not unreasonable to expect CUNY management to provide salaries above inflation, we reiterated, especially in a city as expensive as ours and in response to the erosion over time of the real-dollar value of our salaries. We pointed to the egregiously high, inflation-beating raises that the Board of Trustees granted many members of the CUNY administration during the CUNY budget crisis year 2022-23. (CUNY’s lead negotiator countered that they’d also accepted work furloughs.) We insisted that any PSC member who is promoted or reclassified at CUNY should receive an increase of at least one salary step on their new salary schedule. Further, promotions and reclassifications must not be susceptible to denial on the basis of “budgetary constraints,” as CUNY management has proposed, but should be decided, as our contract indicates, on the basis of merit and professional achievement.


Over several rounds of negotiations, the PSC has succeeded in curbing CUNY management’s quest to expand contingent appointments and the precariousness of work at our colleges. That fight is not new, we face it again in this round, and we must prevail for the sake of our colleagues – present and future – and our students. The first shot across the bow was management’s attack in June on the teaching adjunct job stability provision (3-year appointments for long serving adjuncts) to which the PSC and CUNY agreed two contracts ago. Now entering its 8th year, the important pilot program has made it possible for nearly 2,500 of CUNY’s longest serving teaching adjuncts to predict their schedules and incomes and, for many, to rest secure in the continuity of their health insurance. It has also helped to make it possible for other academic labor unions in our region, and indeed around the country, to achieve stronger job stability provisions for the contingent instructors they represent. Despite CUNY management’s support for this provision in 2016 and again on renewal in 2019, the current administration put it in the crosshairs they have lined up against job security more broadly. When we hear management demanding an unlimited number of appointments to the only full-time teaching positions without access to tenure, we must understand they’re seeking to undermine job security. When we hear management demanding no restrictions on the duration of these appointments, we must understand again they’re seeking to undermine job security. The academic freedom of any body of faculty corresponds directly to their level of job security. A faculty comprised largely of at-will employees is a faculty without substantive academic freedom. A professional staff member who must perform eight consecutive years of successful service to acquire job security (13.3b) should not then be vulnerable to termination if they receive two “negative performance evaluations” within 6 months. Rather than allow CUNY to operate according to the “shock doctrine” – shifting control and safety up the organizational hierarchy while shifting the costs and risks to those lower down – the PSC will defend the job security of all our members in this round of contract negotiations, as we have done before. 


Bronx Community College Mathematics Professor Sharon Persinger, a PSC bargaining team member and former PSC Treasurer, pointed out how CUNY management’s bargaining agenda would erode tenure, fairness in promotion decisions, and democratic shared governance. 


The PSC bargaining team had the opportunity at this session to discuss with our members in attendance five specific proposals that CUNY introduced. These proposals concretize the authority CUNY is pursuing to:

  • Offer teaching assignments to “qualified” HEOs as part of their 35-hour workweek. (HEOs are not contractually prohibited from teaching at CUNY, but CUNY is required to compensate them separately from their HEO salaries.) 
  • Deregulate adjunct appointments to permit up to 15 contact hours per semester at any combination of CUNY campuses. (CUNY is currently prohibited from appointing teaching adjuncts to more than 9 contact hours on one campus and one additional class of up to 6 contact hours at a second campus. The PSC opposes further deregulation of adjunct appointments as a stay against the full adjunctification of CUNY’s already highly unbalanced teaching workforce; there are nearly twice as many teaching adjuncts as full-time faculty.) 
  • Reduce the threshold for management to terminate HEOs with a Certificate of Continuous Administrative Service. (CUNY is currently prohibited from terminating HEOs who have attained Article 13.3(b) due process protections unless they receive three negative annual performance evaluations.) 
  • Create a procedure to pay out 50% of accumulated temporary disability leave to instructional staff in lieu of time in the form of Travia Leave.  
  • Require four weeks notice in writing of an employee who resigns to be eligible for a payout of unused annual leave time. (Introduces a new pre-condition for payout of earned annual leave time.)


The PSC bargaining team also had the opportunity to respond to a presentation by CUNY’s Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management. The presentation showed that enrollment CUNY-wide has begun to rebound, though unevenly and not at a rate that will soon close all the budget gaps at the colleges. PSC First Vice President  Vásquez challenged CUNY management to reset their own expectations for what would be possible if the University were less reliant on student tuition. We are thrilled that more students want to enroll at CUNY, she said, but our raises and benefits should not be predicated on their enrollment. Moreover, our ability to recruit, retain, and graduate our students is directly related to the stability and morale of the faculty and staff.

It will take all of us to win the contractual provisions our members deserve! Please click here to join your Campus Action Team. Please consider attending a bargaining session – we hold regular online orientations to bargaining for PSC members. We will continue to provide updates on our progress toward a just and fair contract for #APeoplesCUNY.

Bargaining Update #4

At the August 8, 2023 bargaining session, CUNY management introduced their bargaining framework for the next contract. In short, it is a blueprint for a degraded, hollowed out university. The PSC’s agenda for fair raises, workplace respect, job security, and a thriving academic community stands in stark contrast. The union will continue fighting hard to advance that vision for the sake of our members and the students we serve, and to oppose the administration’s quest for deeper cost savings and broader managerial control. By engaging our members in the contract campaign over the past year, the union is well prepared to take this fight on and prevail. But it will take all of us, together.

The “flexibility” and “fiscal reality” that CUNY management would like us to accept is a corporatized university in which faculty relinquish their intellectual property rights, professional staff may be fired more easily, non-tenure bearing positions are expanded at the expense of professorial appointments, and all are made vulnerable to weakened contractual due process protections. Several concerning themes are apparent in their bargaining agenda.

Other than management salaries, CUNY should operate on the cheap. CUNY management proposes to include budgetary considerations in promotion decisions that should be based solely on merit. Clearly, the Board of Trustees did not use this standard when awarding massive raises to several Executive Compensation Plan administrators recently while imposing cuts to college budgets, a hiring freeze, and a central vacancy review board. Their “operational limitations” would even eliminate the contractual requirement that new facility construction include faculty office space. Appallingly, after delaying the start of contract negotiations for six months, and putting no economic offer on the table, CUNY management stated their intention to exclude retroactive pay from the contract settlement. Every New York City and State union that has reached contractual agreements recently has received retroactive pay for their members. Nothing more vividly illustrates CUNY management’s contemptuous orientation to these negotiations.

Disrespect and disposability for professional staff. CUNY management seeks to erode the contractual job security provisions for HEOs with a Certificate of Continuous Academic Service (13.3b) and to make it easier to non-reappoint HEOs whether they have the CCAS or not. CLT promotions – based now on job performance and contractual goals for proportions of each rank at the colleges – could instead be decided on the basis of budgetary availability. Current contractual provisions for professional staff members who, after four years, are denied reappointment or promotion to receive reasons for the decision would, in CUNY’s vision, be eliminated. Tellingly, much of CUNY management’s bargaining agenda is devoted to undermining the PSC’s ability to represent our members effectively and prosecuting alleged employee misconduct.

Academic freedom, job security, and intellectual property are placed at risk. CUNY management seeks to curtail academic freedom by circumventing tenure for the professoriate and weakening Certificates of Continuing Employment for lecturers. They aim to roll back hard-won job security provisions for long-serving teaching adjuncts while dramatically expanding full-time contingent appointments and short-term highly paid visiting professorships. They propose enhanced salaries above base for a select few, and the separation from the PSC bargaining unit of members whom the union currently represents. In short, CUNY envisions a teaching faculty composed of a small number of well compensated professors on short-term contracts and a majority of instructors who lack substantive job security. CUNY management’s proposal to assert ownership of intellectual property created with stipended work indicates their disregard for the intellectual work that faculty perform.

Complacency toward further diversifying the faculty. CUNY’s “strategic roadmap” and preliminary budget request both express the value of faculty diversity and goals for improvement. In negotiations, however, CUNY management was disappointingly satisfied with the lack of progress in increasing the proportion of CUNY faculty who identify as Black or Hispanic. Is CUNY management willing to invest “in retaining CUNY’s post-tenure Black, Indigenous, and People of Color faculty rather than losing them to opportunities at better-resourced colleges and universities,” as their preliminary budget request says? Speaking against the PSC’s salary proposal, CUNY management stated that current salaries are not a deterrent to recruiting and retaining faculty of color. 

At this critical juncture, we need every member of the faculty and professional staff to join the union and engage in the collective struggle to win our vision of #APeoplesCUNY – a fully funded university where students, faculty and staff are supported, respected, and have the resources necessary to provide a great education to all. Especially when academic freedom and tenure are under attack nationwide, CUNY management must not erode academic freedom and tenure here. As academic labor unions across the country are making critical gains against austerity and contingency, PSC members must come together to fight for what we and our students deserve.

Together, we can win the PSC’s demands and fend off CUNY management’s austerity agenda. At every college, the PSC has formed Campus Action Teams so that we can continue to scale up in this struggle throughout the coming academic year. Sign up to join yours today. 

We will be calling on all members to build our strength and unity, speak out to the Board of Trustees, hit the streets together, be visible to elected officials, and demonstrate our collective power. 

  • Participate in Union Week actions on your campus (Sept. 18-22).
  • Join the PSC contingent in the NYC Labor Day Parade, Saturday September 9. 
  • Attend a bargaining session. The next orientation to PSC bargaining with CUNY, required of all observers, will be offered on Zoom the evening of Monday, August 28. 
  • Plan to attend the PSC’s Contract Town Hall on zoom the evening of September 27.

In solidarity,

James Davis, President

Bargaining Update #3

July 12, 2023

The PSC bargaining team, with the support of members in the room, met with CUNY on July 10 for our third bargaining session. We are sending this update to all members directly, in addition to posting it, as it concerns two deeply significant issues – the union’s main salary demand for this round, and the status of adjunct job security. 

Beginning our presentation of economic demands, the PSC made several major salary proposals at this session. The remaining salary demands, including key equity proposals for our lowest-paid full-time and contingent members, will follow at a subsequent session. First, however, President Davis set the record straight about the status of the multi-year appointment provision for teaching adjuncts, a pilot provision that benefits more than 2,000 adjuncts.

CUNY administration issued premature and inflammatory guidance to college officials on July 5, claiming to have unilaterally discontinued the program “effective immediately.” However, the contract makes clear that the pilot program, formalized in Appendix E of the PSC-CUNY contract, continues through the end of the 2023-24 academic year. The administration has not met its obligation to complete discussion of potential modifications to the program before determining next steps. President Davis reiterated the position that the PSC emphasized in our preliminary June 26 meeting with the administration about this program: securing a measure of job stability for long-serving teaching adjuncts has been a key priority for the union for many years, so if the administration sought to end this program, we would not accept that. Negotiations about adjunct multi-year appointments are far from complete – in fact, they’ve only just begun. The union’s position therefore is that CUNY must adhere to the contract and that departments should honor the multi-year appointments currently in effect and continue to track eligibility and conduct teaching observations toward the performance review of eligible adjuncts required by the current program. 

The administration’s refusal to rescind the July 5 memo compels the PSC to take  necessary next steps to protect adjunct rights and protect our contract, and we hope all reading this will join and support these efforts, including but not limited to a public campaign highlighting the importance of this hard won provision. While the administration seeks to move the university backward, toward deeper contingency in faculty appointments, the union and our members must instead push forward, toward a more fair and extensive system for increasing stability for the appointments of long-serving teaching adjuncts. 

PSC proposed across-the-board annual raises for each member of the bargaining unit, starting with 8% in each year for 2023 and 2024, followed by 4% in each year for 2025-2027. Davis explained that historic disinvestment in CUNY over decades has eroded the real value of CUNY salaries. He noted that high rates of recent inflation compounded the impact of this historic disinvestment. Further, he provided data about the failure of CUNY salaries to compete with peer institutions in the region, a key factor in the challenges to recruiting, hiring, and retaining well-qualified faculty and staff. Finally, he cited the skyrocketing cost of living in the NYC area, stressing the affordability problems that even average-salaried full-time employees face seeking to live where they work, or even within a commutable distance. Davis observed the large raises that the CUNY Board of Trustees approved for many Executive Compensation Plan employees last fall, when enrollment was plummeting and storm-clouds had gathered over the state and city budget processes, and he pointed out that the same rationale must extend now to PSC-represented employees: it takes a competitive salary to recruit, hire, and retain a talented, well-qualified workforce. This is particularly so when racially diversifying the workforce is a priority. When a university compensates the faculty and staff well, that communicates something critically important about the value of the students they educate; conversely, failing to do so is a way of undermining the quality of a CUNY education.

Making this presentation, Davis was supported by four PSC members: Tanya Agothocleus (Hunter faculty), Howard Meltzer (BMCC faculty), Larissa Swedell (Queens faculty), and Esther Llamas (Medgar Evers HEO). They each spoke poignantly to the need for improved salaries across the board at CUNY, citing their own personal experiences and reporting on those of their colleagues.

PSC First Vice President Andrea Vásquez introduced demands to improve the process of HEO reclassification and salary differentials for HEOs and CLTs. Building on past contractual gains, the union seeks further changes to the reclassification process for HEO series employees, 70% of whom are women and 65% people of color. Reflecting the joint work PSC and CUNY have done recently on respect in the workplace, the PSC put forward a notification timeline along with an explanation for denial of reclassification. We also seek a peer review decision-making committee. 

On salary differentials, the PSC proposed the use of accumulated contractual funds to support the first year of any HEO salary differential award. Funds remaining from last contract agreement would be disbursed to the campuses and carried over until they are fully expended on HEO salary differentials. We also called for an explanation for denial of a differential application, arguing that HEOs often spend many months preparing for a request for reclassification or applying for a differential only to then wait as long as a year for a decision. The PSC proposed extending the salary differential for advanced degrees for CLTs and Assistants to HEO to include HEO Assistants, and proposed that the amounts be increased in each instance.

Two other sets of demands, for additional monies to top steps and for salary increases with promotion, were also presented by the team. Read below for the specific demands put across the table by the union at the July 10 session.

In solidarity,

James Davis, President

Andrea Vásquez, First Vice President

Felicia Wharton, Treasurer

Penny Lewis, Secretary


PSC proposes five years of annual across-the-board salary increases as follows (Article 24)

  • 2023: 8%
  • 2024: 8% compounded
  • 2025: 4% compounded
  • 2026: 4% compounded
  • 2027: 4% compounded

To be applied to each salary step and salary range, and to every member of the bargaining unit, including employees of the EOCs.


PSC proposes to address salary compression in full-time titles (Article 24)

  1. An additional salary increase of $5,000 shall be added to the highest step of each salary schedule for full-time employees.
  2. For employees in the titles listed in Article 24.2, the time to eligibility for the penultimate salary step shall be reduced from five years to three years.


HEO reclassification improvements 

  1. Amend Article 2.3.1 of HEO Code of Practice to include: “Within 60 days following the college’s Office of Human Resources’ receipt of a request for reclassification, the College President or designee will submit their recommendation to HRAS and simultaneously notify the employee and the PSC of the recommendation. Within 30 days after the College’s submission of the recommendation to HRAS, HRAS will notify the college Director of Human Resources, the employee and the PSC of the final decision.”
  2. Amend article 2.3 of the CUNY Code of Practice to include: “For any denial of reclassification, the college shall include a written explanation of the denial to the employee and the PSC. The denial and explanation may not be used or relied upon in any way in any evaluation of the employee or any other personnel action.” 
  3. Amend article 17 of the CUNY Code of Practice to provide for peer review. It is unfair, given the pivotal role HEOs play at the university, that HEOs seeking reclassification are denied peer review. We propose a change in the composition of the College HEO Committee to create a 50% peer review screening committee, with four members appointed by PSC and four by CUNY management.

HEO discretionary assignment differential improvements 

  1. Side agreement on the use of remaining funds identified in CBA appendix O.

The parties will agree upon the exact amount of all unused contractually accumulated HEO Salary Differential funds. Remaining funds, in their entirety, shall be apportioned in the same manner they were apportioned on January 1, 2020. Funds shall be apportioned to each college based upon the number of Assistants to HEO, HEO Assistants and HEO Associates who have completed one or more years of service at the top salary step of their respective salary as of January 1, 2023. The funds shall be used to cover the full $2500 salary differential for the first year for each HEO who is granted the differential. The distribution of the funds accumulated during the pilot program will continue as defined above until all funds are expended.


  1. Amend Article 22.5c to provide employees with rationale for having been denied the discretionary salary differential in order to understand the decision. Add: “Employees who receive a denial of a discretionary assignment differential shall be entitled to receive a statement of the President’s rationale for the decision.”


Improvements to CLT and HEO salary differential for advanced degrees 


  1. The differential for advanced degrees for all employees in the CLT series and Assistants to HEO shall be expanded to include HEO Assistants.


  1. The differential award amount for the Master’s degree shall increase from $1,000 to $2,000 and the differential award amount for the PhD shall increase from $2,500 to $4,000.

Automatic step increase with promotion or reclassification 

All employees who receive a promotion or reclassification shall receive a simultaneous increase of at least one step above the step on their new schedule that is equal to or most closely greater than their current step. Such increase is understood as a minimum; additional step increases with promotion and reclassification are a best practice.


Bargaining Update #2

June 30, 2023

The PSC and CUNY management met for the second negotiations session at the CCNY Center for Worker Education on June 29. Forty PSC members observed the meeting, which began with a response from President Davis to the administration’s budget presentation at the previous meeting. He laid out a different budgetary vision and analysis. Funding for CUNY is political, he said, so while not always predictable, it is neither fixed nor immutable. The PSC has helped to secure millions of dollars in public funding for the university, and Davis made the case that supporting faculty and staff is a strategic investment the university must make and that it requires political will and ingenuity. We added that recently negotiated state public sector contracts have been accompanied by paybills (out-of-cycle budget appropriations), and CUNY should use its political power to assure that the state covers their full collective bargaining costs, as the city does, notwithstanding the practice of the previous Governor. Finally, Davis noted encouraging trends in the university’s FY2023 third quarter report that caution against treating CUNY’s pandemic-era budgets as predictive of its future financial position. CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor Doriane Gloria, CUNY’s chief negotiator, responded by noting the efforts the university has made to secure increased operating aid. She affirmed the work of the External Affairs and Government Relations office and the Institutional Advancement office. PSC First Vice President Andrea Vásquez emphasized the broad support the union has built for the New Deal for CUNY, particularly by engaging with students and legislators, adding that CUNY and the PSC must do more during the next legislative session.

CUNY made a proposal on “ground rules” to guide the parties during negotiations. The PSC indicated the bargaining team’s willingness to consider a few of management’s suggestions and declined the majority. President Davis reviewed the limited ground rules from the last round of negotiations and the expectations the union has made of members observing sessions in this round of bargaining. CUNY agreed to defer discussion to a later date and proceed with scheduling subsequent bargaining sessions. The next session has been scheduled for July 10 at the CUNY central office. The bargaining team wishes to thank our members who attended this session – we appreciate the strong sense of unity and purpose expressed by your engagement.

Bargaining Update #1

PSC-CUNY bargaining begins!

June 28, 2023

We are happy to report that the PSC and CUNY sat down together at the bargaining table on Tuesday, June 27th for the first session of contract negotiations. Our 2017-2023 contract expired February 28, 2023, and having requested dates since December 2022, we were eager to finally begin. We will share regular updates here following our sessions.

Tuesday’s bargaining took place at CUNY Central and included two dozen members in addition to the 17-person bargaining team. Sitting across from each other the teams introduced themselves, and the PSC presented our bargaining proposals. President James Davis explained our overall bargaining agenda, and spoke to our salary demands and enforcing the contract. Other members of the bargaining team and additional PSC members spoke to the remaining sections of the agenda: Penny Lewis – Benefits; Larry Bosket and Habib Girgis – Work Life Balance and Professional Respect; Sharon Persinger – Educational Technology; Lynne Turner and David Hatchett – Job Security; Andrea Vásquez – Workload and Professional Development; Susan Fountain – Health and Safety; Sharon Utakis and Zoe Hu – Support for the Academic Community; John Pittman and Jen Gaboury – Racial Justice and Support for the Common Good. Members spoke to the commitment, flexibility and excellence of work that members have exhibited during these difficult COVID years, and the ways in which we carried the university forward. Speakers stressed key achievements of previous rounds of negotiations, and our goals of economic security that competitive salaries and improved benefits provide, job security, health and safety, professional respect, and support for our academic community and the students and communities that we serve.

CUNY Chief Operating Officer Hector Batista thanked PSC for the presentation and responded by indicating some areas of shared interest. He promised that CUNY would soon share their contract proposals, which he said would be aimed at improving efficiencies, accountability and the sustainability of CUNY. Provost Wendy Hensel also spoke to common interests between the parties, and also about CUNY Online. University Executive Budget Director Cathy Abata shared a presentation highlighting CUNY’s budget challenges. PSC emphasized the need to increase state and city funding to CUNY, specifically to fund our contract and improve our working conditions and students’ learning conditions.

Throughout the session, PSC solidarity and purpose were made evident by the sentiment we all wore on our lapels: “Union Proud.” Members gathered early, attended closely to the exchanges at the table, and stayed to confer after the session. As one member said, “We showed how unified we are as a union by having people of different titles speak about each other’s issues!”


Timeline of Contract Campaign

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