The PSC Delegate Assembly, representing all CUNY campuses and units, met online last night (March 19). Our primary focus, of course, was on the union’s intense and ongoing campaign to protect the safety of our members, our students and our city during the pandemic.
The PSC had also made a commitment, however, to consider an endorsement in the New York State presidential primary. The world has changed since the union leadership initially made the proposal and since many of you sent us comments through the website. But the pandemic reveals anew how consequential political decisions are. The PSC is a large and diverse union, and our members hold many different political positions. The union leadership respects our members’ right to make their own choice of how to vote.
PSC delegates listened to your views, and in a well-attended meeting, voted overwhelmingly to approve the following motion on presidential endorsement:
In the New York State Democratic primary for president of the United States, currently scheduled to be held on April 28, the PSC endorses Senator Bernie Sanders for his progressive agenda on higher education, in particular, and on broader issues that represent the interests of our members, CUNY students, and working people, such as climate change, economic inequality, union protections, health care, and immigration. While we endorse Senator Sanders in the Democratic primary, we recognize the imperative of defeating President Trump, and therefore pledge to support the Democratic nominee in the general election, and to urge the nominee to embrace the progressive agenda that Bernie Sanders promotes.
To offer you a little background to the endorsement process: the PSC Executive Council originally proposed a resolution endorsing both Senator Sanders and Senator Warren. The rationale behind the proposed dual endorsement was to support the progressive principles—pertaining to higher education, and more broadly, on the economy and on climate change—of the two campaigns. The proposal was sent to all members for your response. Close to 500 of you sent us comments. Some members felt that the union should not do any endorsement, and others expressed reservations about one or both candidates. The large majority of the members offering comments supported the dual endorsement, with some expressing preference for one of the two candidates, particularly Sanders.
After Senator Warren dropped out of the race, the PSC Executive Council studied members’ comments and reformulated the proposal. The reformulated proposal endorses Senator Sanders alone in the New York Democratic primary, and takes the further step of declaring support for the democratic nominee in the general election. The proposal was discussed at length at the Delegate Assembly meeting last night.
Many delegates recognized Senator Sanders’ slim chances of winning the nomination, but they made the case that the endorsement has value for our members, our students and the labor movement, beyond the outcome of the primary election.
The current pandemic, they said, exposes the inhumane contradictions of our society, where children’s nutritional needs are conditional on being able to attend school, and people cannot stop working because they don’t have sick leave. A nation where millions have no health insurance and even more are struggling with medical bills is now scrambling to respond to an unprecedented heath crisis. Sanders’ platform on health care, on economic inequality, on union protections, on climate change and on a billionaires’ tax have acquired even greater urgency now, delegates said. Despite the primary results so far, they reported, exit polls show that Sanders’ policy proposals, such as Medicare for All and tuition-free college, have been embraced by a majority of voters.
While a few delegates spoke against the endorsement and some opposed pledging support for the eventual Democratic nominee, the motion was overwhelmingly supported, with several members citing the necessity of defeating President Trump.
Sanders’ candidacy offers a national platform for his progressive agenda, and it pressures the Democratic Party and the nominee to negotiate with his progressive agenda. Sigmund Shen, the PSC chapter chair at LaGuardia, urged delegates to use "this endorsement to send a message that the issues matter, a movement matters, and even in the most frightening times, building on our hopes for a better future matters."
As a progressive union, the PSC is proud to endorse Senator Sanders and we look forward to working with his campaign in the New York State Democratic primary. The resolution also pledges the PSC’s support for the national Democratic nominee and for a progressive national platform.
The PSC Executive Council