Friday, June 17, 2016

CUNY Breaks the Mold! Rejecting Austerity, the PSC Earns a New Contract.

During the last seven years, members of my union and myself went to Albany to get arrested at the State House; we occupied Wall Street, we protested at the chancellor’s house, we screamed, we lobbied, we organized, we got arrested last fall, we wrote letters; we marched over the Brooklyn Bridge with students, 92% of us threatened to strike, all as part of a concerted effort to beat back the tides of austerity. We knew money was there as the economy slowly recovered from the great recession. We also knew that tuition increases, among other cost of living increases made living in New York difficult for CUNY students and staff. Still we fought the pattern of austerity faced by other public sector unions. And some of us worried the governor was trying to break the union, following the Koch Brothers money and Wisconsin model. Many said just take the 6% offer that fell below inflation. Yet, others said keep on pushing. The money is there. And finally, yesterday at our Union Hall, we started hearing rumblings that something was in the works, that organizers negotiated until 530 AM.
And that we finally, had gotten a contract, the first since 2008.
Barbara Bowen writes:

Dear PSC Members,
I am happy to report that the PSC reached a tentative contract agreement with CUNY management early this morning. At last!
The bargaining teams worked straight through the night in order to finish today, and the union's Executive Council voted this afternoon to recommend the tentative settlement.
Details of the proposed agreement will be available tomorrow; the union's press release is below.

Thank you for the work you did to make the agreement possible. There would have been no agreement and no restored funding for CUNY without the campaign thousands of PSC members waged this year. Congratulations to all.

In solidarity,
Barbara Bowen
President, PSC

New York-A tentative collective bargaining agreement has been reached between the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the union representing CUNY faculty and professional staff, and the City University of New York (CUNY). The deal was announced today by PSC President Barbara Bowen and CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken.
The proposed contract provides 10.41% in compounded salary increases over a period of slightly more than seven years, from October 20, 2010 through November 30, 2017. CUNY faculty and professional staff, who have worked for more than six years without a raise, will receive retroactive payments and a signing bonus.
Equally important, the contract enacts significant structural changes that will fortify working and learning conditions at CUNY.
In a provision that will be crucial for the quality of education, the University has agreed to work toward structuring more time for faculty to devote to individual students. The tentative agreement also provides CUNY's first-ever system of multi-year appointments for adjunct faculty, allowing thousands of instructors who are paid by the course to offer greater academic continuity to their students. Also as a result of the agreement, CUNY's professional staff will gain opportunities for advances in pay and title; new provisions recognize the centrality of the work staff do in CUNY's array of programs and student services.
The tentative contract, which now must be ratified by PSC members and approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees, covers CUNY's academic workforce of 25,000, including full-time and adjunct professors and lecturers, Higher Education Officers, College Laboratory Technicians, and other invaluable staff.
"I am inspired by the PSC membership," said Barbara Bowen, PSC president. "We were able to negotiate a strong, imaginative contract in a period of enforced austerity for public workers because our members mobilized. The fight for our contract was a fight for investment in quality education at CUNY. On behalf of the union bargaining team, I commend our negotiating partners at CUNY, and I thank the many lawmakers in Albany and New York City-as well as the students and community groups-who offered essential support."

The lesson of our contract fight is education is an asset worth organizing for. Our students, our city are worth organizing for. Education is worth organizing for. New York needs everyone to have access to higher education. Knowledge is power. We have to use it. And when we use it, we win.

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