CUNY Faculty and Staff “Stand Together for CUNY” at a Midtown Protest against Layoffs & Funding Cuts
Protestors Formed a Human Chain from CUNY Central to Governor Cuomo’s Manhattan Offices
With just a week left before thousands of adjunct faculty at the City University of New York may receive layoff notices, well over 100 CUNY faculty and staff formed a human chain from the University’s headquarters to the Governor’s office in Midtown today. The unionized workers were there as links in the chain to protest funding cuts to CUNY and plans to cut thousands of courses and lay off potentially thousands of adjuncts. Six hundred more faculty and staff joined the protest at a virtual rally featuring live video from the street.
“We are six feet apart, but we are standing together for CUNY,” said Barbara Bowen, president of the PSC/CUNY. “The members of the PSC refuse to normalize cuts and layoffs at CUNY. We are demanding that New York State and City governments, the federal government, and the CUNY administration prioritize people’s lives and livelihoods over protecting the wealth of the rich. That’s the choice they will be making when CUNY announces next week whether it will go ahead with plans to reduce course offerings for students, lay off thousands of employees and and toss its most vulnerable employees off health insurance during a pandemic. Cutting CUNY is cutting a lifeline for New York’s communities of color and those hardest hit by COVID-19. It’s not too late to change course.”
This year’s budget gives Governor Cuomo the authority to cut the State budget unilaterally in response to declining revenues resulting from the coronavirus recession. The State funding cuts applied to CUNY could be as high as $95 million. Mayor de Blasio has proposed $31.6 million in cuts to CUNY in the next fiscal year and a $20-million cut in the current year.
Already vastly underfunded and facing potentially devastating budget cuts, CUNY colleges have announced plans to reduce course offerings by as much as 35% and lay off thousands of adjunct faculty and other contingent staff. The course cuts and layoffs would mean that students lose access to mentors, professors and the courses they need to graduate.
Plans for the cuts and layoffs are continuing despite $132 million in federal CARES Act stimulus money allocated to CUNY for job protection and rising support in Albany for increased taxes on the rich to protect public education and vital services from budget cuts.
The union has announced that it is preparing to litigate against layoffs at CUNY, if necessary, on the basis of the CARES Act provision on keeping university employees on payroll.
A corps of 12,000 adjunct instructors teach more than half the courses at CUNY. Other part-time staff whose jobs are at risk serve as College Lab Technicians and in other vital roles. Many receive health insurance through their work at CUNY and would be left without coverage.
Tuesday’s action comes after the launch of an ad campaign demanding that “CUNY must do better” for its workers and the students and communities of color it serves.