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Contract Rights Upheld in Pathways Grievance

Dec 16, 2013

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CUNY management was defeated in its attempt to block consideration of a union grievance on the way the University implemented Pathways, and has been told in no uncertain terms that faculty’s curricular duties are terms and conditions of employment covered by the PSC’s contract. The ruling was issued on Friday by an independent arbitrator of a grievance filed by the PSC. CUNY had petitioned for the grievance to be dismissed, arguing that issues of governance are not covered by the PSC contract and cannot be challenged by the PSC. The petition to dismiss was an attempt to narrow scope of the contract, and was soundly rejected by the arbitrator.

The grievance, filed by the PSC in 2012, alleges that in its implementation of Pathways CUNY failed to act in accordance with University Bylaws and college governance plans established for the development and execution of curriculum changes. The grievance also alleges that the implementation of Pathways was a violation of academic freedom and that CUNY retaliated against members of the faculty for acting in opposition to Pathways.

The arbitrator ruled that the grievance was subject to arbitration, or “arbitrable,” in its entirety and ruled against CUNY on every point. The arbitrator held that the ability to maintain some degree of control over curriculum was an integral part of faculty members’ terms and conditions of employment and was therefore subject to the grievance and arbitration procedure in the PSC-CUNY collective bargaining agreement. The PSC will now be permitted to present evidence to establish the violation of Bylaws and college governance plans that have occurred in CUNY’s headlong rush to implement its deeply flawed Pathways Initiative.

The grievance should not be confused with the two lawsuits filed by the PSC against Pathways, which are still moving slowly through the courts. The grievance is limited to violations of the PSC-CUNY contract and is an entirely separate proceeding. The grievance challenges only the implementation of Pathways, not the adoption of Pathways.

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