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A message from President James Davis

A strong contract and budget need you

Sent January 24 to all PSC members

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you refreshed and looking forward to the Spring semester! Meeting and working with new students, launching programs and classes, getting a fresh start – this is what keeps our work vital. Your continued dedication to our students means that, despite deepening austerity at CUNY, your college’s classrooms, offices, studios and labs remain vibrant spaces of learning and collaboration.

The PSC is as committed as ever to protecting and improving CUNY. Join us in this campaign. Throughout the intersession we have undertaken campaigns to secure increases in State aid and to restore the cuts by CUNY management that threaten jobs and student academic progress. At the city level, we are working to reverse the Mayor’s harmful and unnecessary cuts to City funding, and at the bargaining table, we are working to advance our contract negotiations. PSC members helped close out 2023 with a bang at a big December rally for a strong contract and budget that stretched from the governor’s office to CUNY central (video here). As the semester begins, this work now intensifies and we must exert our collective power.

Painful new cuts were demanded of nine colleges as Fall semester ended. CUNY directed local administrators to cut millions of dollars mid-year, above and beyond the $128 million in savings already demanded in this year alone. The strain that CUNY’s financial condition places on the faculty and staff has been deepened by failures of leadership. But PSC members are organizing to fight back. Just last week, over 500 members of the Queens College community signed a letter challenging their president’s imposition of these cuts that cost 26 full-time Substitute Lecturers their jobs, scrambled student schedules, and laid off adjuncts and other contingent employees just two weeks before the semester’s start. They are marching on the president’s office this week, as are their York College colleagues who are contesting similar draconian cuts. CUNY management continues to plunder college budgets instead of calling publicly for what’s needed from Albany and City Hall.

We must not let mismanagement deepen the crises of student retention and understaffing. Despite this year’s strong rebound, CUNY enrollment is still 14% lower than the pre-COVID level. The end of federal stimulus funding, alongside continued cuts to our City funding, has compounded the longstanding racialized disinvestment that preceded it. But the CUNY administration is punishing the colleges with new and larger cuts at their most precarious point emerging from the pandemic.

The advocacy of PSC members has yielded hundreds of millions in new state operating aid and capital funding in recent years. Our efforts are as critical as ever now, as we fight for the New Deal for CUNY and the transformative resources that we and our students deserve. Let us know we can count on you. 

PSC members deserve a strong contract, this semester – with real raises, professional respect, and paths to job security and advancement – a contract that recognizes the work we do that makes CUNY run. But we are now approaching one year with an expired contract. Despite the union’s urging even before the contract expired, there have been too many months when CUNY management has not been at the bargaining table. We have yet to receive an economic offer.

If you agree that management must get serious and move to meet the union’s fair demands, then plan to participate in the contract campaign, whether by attending a bargaining session, participating in a contract action on your campus, or signing up new members to join the union.

Across the country, organized labor is resurgent and academic workers of all job titles are helping to lead the way. The vision the PSC has set out in our bargaining agenda and budget priorities is a blueprint for academic quality and access at CUNY – for a public university committed to retaining the students who enroll and supporting every one of us who contributes to their success. These next few months are pivotal for achieving that vision, and all of our voices are needed.

In solidarity, and with best wishes for your spring semester,

James Davis

Published: January 25, 2024

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