A message from PSC President Barbara Bowen
Collective bargaining for a new PSC contract began in earnest last Friday, June 20th. The negotiating teams for the union and CUNY management met for about three hours, and made a good start on what promise to be intense negotiations during the summer.
One thing established immediately was that the union has the right to bring observers and faculty/staff experts to future bargaining sessions. We will notify you as additional sessions are scheduled.
The session on Friday began with both sides acknowledging that we have made significant progress on some contractual issues even while formal negotiations were stalled, largely because of the Bloomberg administration’s refusal to provide funds for salary increases. Parental leave was made permanent; phased retirement was introduced; the teaching load at City Tech was made equitable with other four-year colleges; funding for PSC-CUNY Grants and adjunct Professional Development Grants was increased; adjunct pay for the fifteenth week of the semester was protected; major progress was made on adjunct health insurance; and many of the changes the union sought in the HEO/CLT timesheet have been made.
The bargaining teams exchanged demands and acknowledged the need for conversations with NY City and NY State on the economics of the contract. No economic offer was made because those discussions are not complete. The union expressed the urgency of securing an economic offer that allows for salary increases and other needs–especially after years without a contract. We said that we are aware of the contracts being negotiated with other public-sector unions in the city and state, but we are also determined to press for our members’ needs.
Speaking for the PSC bargaining team, Barbara Bowen outlined the union’s approach to this round of bargaining. She emphasized that there is an opportunity in the next few months, with both NY City and NY State open to settling union contracts, to get the PSC contract done. The PSC bargaining team is prepared to work throughout the summer and beyond to reach an agreement we can support. Bowen presented the PSC’s bargaining demands, an updated version of the bargaining agenda approved by the Delegate Assembly in 2010. She said that the union is committed to negotiating a contract that advances all of our members and moves the University closer to offering the necessary support for the work they do at CUNY. The union’s agenda is to reverse austerity conditions at CUNY. We believe that even within the constraints of time and economics, significant and imaginative gains can be made.
Vice Chancellor Pamela Silverblatt presented CUNY management’s demands, many of which have appeared in previous rounds of bargaining. She expressed a desire to build on the record of success the parties have had in negotiating agreements in the past few years. The union bargaining team is analyzing CUNY’s demands, and will report on them in more detail shortly.
It was a productive first session. The harder work will come as we press for the best possible economic offer and wrestle with individual demands. The source of the union’s power in the past to win ambitious demands has been members’ willingness to express their needs and support for each other. As we enter what may be tough economic and ideological battles, we will need to call on you to stand up, speak up and maybe even act up. Watch for messages throughout the summer.