September 29, 2014
Benno C. Schmidt, Jr.
Chairperson, Board of Trustees
The City University of New York
205 East 42″d Street
New York, NY 10017
Dear Chairperson Schmidt and Trustees of the City University of New York: Meetings of the Board of Trustees usually begin with a report on CUNY’s
achievements and congratulations on honors won by CUNY faculty, staff and students. The expensive advertising campaign developed by the CUNY administration is designed to tell the same story: “CUNY is a success.” But those of us who work at CUNY-and whose work makes CUNY work-would tell a different story.
CUNY is suffering-and we are suffering-because we have not had a raise in more than four years. It is unconscionable for the trustees of the University to fail to act when both the quality of education at CUNY and the well-being of
the faculty and staff are at risk. We need a fair economic offer on the bargaining table, and we need it now.
The members of the Professional Staff Congress work our hearts out for the University. We do it because we believe in CUNY’s mission and we are committed to the communities we serve. But current conditions border on the intole’rable because of inadequate pay and support. Enrollment has hit an all time high, yet the faculty and staff on whom the students’ success depends are being asked to work without a raise.
Every day I hear from faculty and staff that the failure to deliver an economic offer threatens the quality of education at CUNY. A significant number of the young faculty whom we have recruited over the last few years are now leaving because they cannot live on their salaries. Department chairs report that they cannot recruit new faculty because the salaries and teaching load are not competitive. There are CUNY faculty and staff members who cannot pay their rent because their salaries have not kept up with housing costs. There are CUNY adjuncts living on food stamps.
Contracts of other public employees across the city are now being settled.
The members of the Professional Staff Congress understand that our contract is more complex than most because CUNY is funded by both the City and the State, but it is the responsibility of the University administration to deliver a satisfactory economic offer.
The union is prepared to settle the contract and has been in active negotiations since the first of the City contracts was settled last spring. The negotiations have been productive, but they cannot advance without money on the table. The PSC leadership has also worked with elected officials to reach a fair resolution, and we take seriously Chancellor Milliken’s public commitment to achieving a good contract. But the contract must become as much a priority for the trustees as it is for the union.
The members of the PSC are here today in support of our bargaining team; we demand an economic offer that recognizes the quality and importance of the work we do. After four years, the University trustees and administration
should no longer be comfortable expecting us to work without a raise. We call on you to produce an economic offer that will allow us to settle the contract. Until that goal is reached, the union plans to increase our public pressure on the trustees and CUNY administration to reach a good contract agreement. CUNY needs a raise.