On November 5, HEO Chapter Chair Cindy Bink, hosted an online chapter meeting about the proposed contract. During the meeting, PSC First Vice President Andrea Vásquez and Vice President for Cross Campus Units Iris DeLutro reported on the work of the bargaining team and answered questions related to HEOs and all members of the bargaining unit. Here are some points raised and some questions that were posed:
--- Raises: In this contract we fought for good raises for all and for greater "equity" raises for teaching adjuncts and for many full-timers in the lower-paid titles. We sought an extra infusion of funds in order to do this and we achieved that with CUNY, the State and the City making a commitment to provide additional funding to support new provisions in the proposed agreement. We will receive 2% raises for each year of the contract, and teaching adjuncts, assistants to HEO, CLTs and lecturers will receive significantly more. By the end of the contract period, all Assistants to HEO will receive $1,000 added on to their base pay. While we did not achieve the full $7,000 per course for adjunct faculty, adjunct faculty pay will increase by as much as 71% for adjuncts teaching a 3-credit course because they will now be paid for additional office hours in addition to the regular raises. The average increase for the 12,000 teaching adjuncts is 45%; a huge achievement for one contract.
Question: When will we see those increases and how will they come to us?
Reply: We do not yet have a date, but the PSC and CUNY have begun discussions and we are pressing CUNY to speedily work with the State and City to pay us as soon as possible. We will continue to press CUNY on this and as soon as we have details we will let you know.
--- Retroactive Pay: After intense negotiations, we won an agreement that includes an increase in every year of the contract and retroactive increases for everyone represented by the PSC who was on payroll on October 1, 2018 and everyone who was on payroll on October 31, 2019. Back-pay is the difference between what you were actually paid and what you would have been paid if the new contractual higher rates had been in place at the time.
In the last contract we were given the back-pay in one or two checks and it was listed as "bonus." Some of us were taxed 50% on that large paycheck. Can it be done differently this time so we do not have to pay such a high tax rate on that income?
Reply: CUNY must work with the City and State to calculate retroactive pay. While the PSC cannot negotiate over this payroll process, we will urge CUNY to pay the retro amounts as quickly as possible and in such a way that is most beneficial to our members. However, we advise members to discuss the tax ramifications with a financial advisor or tax professional. This year, since the contract had been expired for two years rather than six, as in the last round, the amount of the retroactive pay will be less, as will the tax ramifications.
--- Salary Differentials: Each contract builds on the previous one and our cross-title unity allowed us to win our demands. Improvements were made to the 3-year appointments for adjuncts and for the HEO salary differentials we won in the last round. All provisions on the differential for HEOs at the top of the three salary steps (Assistant to HEOs, HEO Assistants, and HEO Associates) remain and two important improvements were added. There will now be funds to supplement the colleges who award the differentials and there is also now a timeline for notification by the college to the applicant.
Question: Why do only Assistants to HEO receive the $1,000 equity raise?
Reply: The aHEO is the lowest-paid title in the Higher Education Officer series and the only one that is not pegged to a title in the professorial series. So, the salaries of full HEOs are the same as those of full professors, HEO Associates have same salary schedule as Associate Professors and the same is true for HEO Assistants and Assistant Professors. This structure is uncommon in higher education and is beneficial to HEOs and unites us with faculty as members of CUNY's instructional staff. For decades, the PSC has defended this pay parity of teaching and non-teaching instructional staff titles. The assistant to HEOis lower paid than any professorial rank, with a current starting salary of $39,282. For this reason, we have singled out aHEOs for a $1,000 salary differential that will be added to the base pay of all who hold this title.
Question: What has happened to our past demand for HEO promotion?
Response: CUNY has not agreed to this, which is why we made improvements to the provision on reclassification in the last round of bargaining and strengthened the provision on salary differentials. Our non-promotional status is the result of the civil service structure that we fall under as public-sector workers. This would require a major structural change but we should not give up on this; often, it takes several rounds of bargaining to make the changes we seek.
--- Bullying: Although not written into the MOA, the PSC and CUNY agreed to a joint University-wide anti-bullying campaign.
Question: How will it work and when will we begin?
Reply: PSC leaders have already had a preliminary discussion with the CUNY chancellor about how the campaign will be conducted. There is strong commitment from the administration as well as from the union. If the contract is ratified, we will begin discussions internally on how the union will approach the campaign and how staff and faculty can be part of it.
--- Welfare Fund and Professional Development Fund: Funds were added to strengthen these funds and provide additional benefits and opportunities for professional development.
--- Online teaching: Many HEOs also teach a class as an adjunct and they will benefit from the salary increase. Additionally, for the first time ever, we have a new provision on how teaching observations must be done for online classes.
--- Paid Family Leave: In addition to paid parental leave, we have formed a labor-management committee to implement the State program that will provide us with additional paid time off to care for family members.