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This Week in the PSC

This Week at PSC: PSC Challenges Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Budget

Feb 07, 2011

PSC Challenges Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Budget
Instead of investing in CUNY and providing the resources that the university needs to provide a path to opportunity for the students of New York City, Governor Cuomo has put forward an Executive Budget that slashes CUNY funding. $95.1 million in cuts to CUNY senior colleges are proposed in the budget, including an $11.9 million cut carried over from the state’s current-year deficit reduction and a newly-proposed $83.2 million cut. Continuation of last year’s cuts to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) is also part of the Governor’s budget plan, along with a 10-percent ($226 per full-time equivalent) drop in Community College funding.

The PSC’s statement regarding the proposed cuts is on the new website, along with a breakdown of the cuts to CUNY and financial aid.

The PSC contends that the governor’s planned cuts to education, healthcare and social services target the most vulnerable and threaten the state’s economic recovery. To close the deficit and avoid the worst of the governor’s deep cuts, union activists are advocating for progressive tax policies such as the “millionaires” tax surcharge.

“Budget-setting is about making choices, and this budget, in the state with the highest income inequality in the country, represents a choice to advance the interests of the wealthiest New Yorkers at the expense of the poor and middle class,” said Barbara Bowen, president of the PSC.

Members Take Action
Last Friday, just days after the release of the governor’s Executive Budget, PSC members from chapters throughout New York City met face-to-face with key members of the state legislature in their district offices. The grassroots lobby visits, part of the statewide resistance from NYSUT members against the Governor’s cuts to lower and higher education, focused on both the specific issues that impact CUNY and called for realistic, progressive revenue-enhancements instead.

Member-lobbying efforts are also scheduled in Albany on Tuesday, February 15, and other dates this Spring (March 7-8, 15, or 21-22, and May 9-10). To sign up for Albany legislator visits, contact Amanda Magalhaes.

Victory for Academic Freedom at Brooklyn College:Kristofer Petersen-Overton Gets His Job Back
Last Monday, Brooklyn College reversed an earlier decision to rescind the appointment of CUNY doctoral student Kristofer Petersen-Overton to teach a seminar on Middle East politics. The PSC spoke out against political meddling in academic decision-making when Mr. Petersen-Overton’s job offer was pulled after the administration received a letter from a politician opposed to his appointment.

The Brooklyn College Political Science Department stood with him, as did the Brooklyn College PSC chapter and the hundreds of PSC members and scholars across the country who protested the violation of academic freedom. Corey Robin, a member of the Brooklyn College Political Science Department who took part in the organizing effort to restore Mr. Petersen-Overton’s teaching appointment said,

“The phrase “teachable moment” has become a cliché in recent years, but this really was a teachable moment. Not only about the basic values of academic freedom and faculty governance, but also about the power of collective action. As of Wednesday of last week, Kristofer Petersen-Overton was not going to teach this class. As of tonight, he is. No one at the center of this storm—as I was—doubts that this would have happened were it not for the mobilization of hundreds of union members—full-timers, adjuncts, and staff—who wrote letters, made phone calls, and got their friends and co-workers to do the same. When you’re in the trenches, it’s hard to believe that collective action will work. But guess what? It really does,” said Robin on January 31.

CUNY Flunks PESH Inspection
While the CUNY administration has taken its time developing a Workplace Violence Prevention Policy, PSC’s Environmental Health and Safety Watchdogs have pressed hard to ensure that CUNY workers get the protection they deserve. After a year and a half of assertions that the University’s Workplace Violence Policy did not comply with State regulation, the PSC watchdogs at Queens College filed a Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) complaint with the New York State Department of Labor. The complaint led to a university-wide review that found CUNY in violation of the state’s Public Employer Workplace Violence Prevention Law. The University has circulated a survey among employees to identify perceived workplace risks, and colleges will be conducting workplace risk assessment walkthroughs in which employee representatives must participate. Visit the Environmental Health and Safety Committee page on the new website to read more, and watch for an article in the next Clarion.

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