WHEREAS the mission of CUNY is, in part, “to maintain and expand its commitment to academic excellence and to the provision of equal access and opportunity for students, faculty and staff from all ethnic and racial groups and from both sexes. The City University is of vital importance as a vehicle for the upward mobility of the disadvantaged in the City of New York,”
WHEREAS the City University of New York (CUNY) employs some 13,000 adjuncts (according to the Professional Staff Congress [PSC], the union of CUNY faculty and staff). Adjuncts comprise 59% of the CUNY faculty but earn only 29-38% of what full-time faculty earn making them the largest section of the bargaining unit and the most oppressed;
WHEREAS adjuncts are consistently subjected to unpredictable working conditions, including but not limited to late pay, classes cancellations, lack of rehiring, disproportionate class sizes that vary by campus and department, and inadequate access to instructional resources;
WHEREAS a significant number of Graduate Center (GC) students adjunct to subsidize their graduate studies and living expenses, whether solely or in addition to graduate assistantships, especially those students who entered the GC prior to 2013;
WHEREAS the working conditions of CUNY’s adjuncts are the learning conditions of its undergraduate and graduate students;
WHEREAS the recent contract negotiations did not make adjunct equity issues the main priority;
WHEREAS a public-facing campaign for adjunct parity, in addition to being morally right, is of great strategic value to the broader PSC;
WHEREAS solidarity across the PSC is urgent with the potential threat of the country becoming “right-to-work” with a new “Friedrichs” case presented to a Trump Supreme Court. Studies have found that “right-to-work” laws end up reducing workers’ wages and their likelihood of receiving benefits;
RESOLVED that the PSC make adjunct equity issues the main priority in the upcoming contract negotiations and have majority adjuncts as part of the bargaining team.
RESOLVED that specific demands and goals should be developed in a sustained conversation between PSC leadership and Adjunct leaders from each campus.
RESOLVED that CUNY bargain this demand in good faith, since higher, more equitable salaries for CUNY adjunct faculty benefit all, especially CUNY undergraduate students, whose learning conditions are their faculty’s working conditions.
The election of Donald Trump to the highest office of government will be a disaster for the labor movement in the United States. Throughout the election season Trump campaigned on a far right wing platform of bigotry and xenophobia. Now that he is set to move in to the White House and Republicans control both houses of Congress, we can expect profound and sustained attacks on our union organizations and our communities.
As members of the labor movement, we have a special responsibility to stand against the policies and rhetoric of a Trump administration. The US working class is made up of people of all colors, religions and identities. Our unions are some of the most diverse institutions in the United States, and Trump would preside over attacks on the groups and communities that our members and their families are a part of.
Workers from Mexico, China, the Philippines or anywhere else are not our enemies and they are not responsible for the loss of union jobs in the United States. It is Wall Street and the corporate elites who are to blame. Collaborating with a Trump presidency and partnering with powerful corporations in an effort to bring back jobs will not make our movement stronger. Those who voted for Donald Trump will be given a dose of bitter medicine when they learn that his presidency will not put American workers first, but instead the interests of the 1%. We cannot allow Trump’s right wing appeals to workers to go unchallenged. Organized labor must unite and provide an alternative to scapegoating through fighting to defend workers’ living standards and putting forward a politics of solidarity. And our unions must organize the unorganized to bring millions more workers into the fold of the labor movement.
Now is the time for our unions to take action and begin to prepare for right to work legislation, legal attacks, and continuing employer demands for give-backs. Rather than give Trump an olive branch or offers of conciliation, our unions should come out swinging on day 1 of the new administration. Donald Trump lost the popular vote, and enjoys no mandate to rule. It is our duty to demonstrate to the world that we will fight back against Trump’s agenda, and to lend our resources to local battles against manifestations of this profoundly anti-worker onslaught.
We call on all unions to join us in Labor Against Trump contingents at any demonstrations or actions across the county on Inauguration Day, including in Washington DC. Our unions will also work locally to oppose Trump’s agenda, defend the communities he intends to attack, and join forces with those who call for solidarity rather than fear and division.
*Note: the chapter will be discussing whether to adopt this at the December 1st chapter meeting.
Kamran Moshef is a PhD student in Political Science.
The election of Donald Trump is not what it seems. There have been a multitude of reactions to Trump’s victory, and most of them heavily feature words like disaster, emergency, defense, reaction, and so on. But the meaning of an event becomes clear only in retrospect, when we look back on it from the future. Our job is to build that future into the one we want, so that we can look back at the election and see it as the beginning of our path to victory.
CUNY, the PSC, and our chapter should not be misled into taking either of the following two roads. The first would be to think that organized labor and academic unions could possibly collaborate with the Trump regime because of Trump’s economic populist stance on investing in infrastructure. We cannot assume these promises will actually be fulfilled. But even more fundamentally, any collaboration, no matter how cautious, would fail to really challenge the reactionary nature of Trump’s appeal to economic populism.
The second dangerous road would be to hunker down, to act on fear and prepare only for defense. The wider labor movement has been in defensive mode for decades now, which reflects our structural weakness but also perpetuates it. At the same time, we don’t want to obscure the enormity of the tasks we face. Make no mistake: Trump and his Wall Street friends are coming for us as workers, as academics, and as activists and organizers. We do need to prepare ourselves for defense, but we can’t stop there.
Instead of either of these two roads, we need to take an approach that they won’t see coming, one that will seem unlikely, and maybe even impossible, until we do it. They already know what the standard approach will be. They know our playbook; they practically wrote it for us. We need to surprise them. People in this country are angry and ready for change. The labor movement and academic workers can be part of offering a real positive vision of how to re-knit the social fabric that has been torn apart by decades of brutal neoliberal capitalism into something better than it was before. And the only way to do this is to refuse any attempt to divide the working class: because the working class is multiracial, it is undocumented, urban and rural, LGBTQ, disabled and differently-abled, Muslim, indigenous.
If we decide that we already know that the election of Trump is a disaster for us, then we fail to notice that this is exactly the time for us to push forward.
Workers recently won an impressive and inspiring victory at Harvard. The National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of graduate student unionization at private universities. The Movement for Black Lives Platform coming out Black Lives Matter included a call for a constitutional right to a fully funded education. Surveys show that Millennials have a more favorable opinion of socialism than capitalism. Media coverage of the crisis in the university and the struggles of adjuncts is becoming more sympathetic. The neoliberal order is coming apart at the seams, and now, we have an opportunity to put forward an alternative; with an ecological crisis of unprecedented proportions, our ability to do so could quite literally determine the fate of the planet.
Academic workers have a unique role to play in these struggles, as we move in and out of conversation with activists, movements and intellectuals, and between our students and the wider society. Universities increasingly play a key role in the political economy of the city. University enrollment is at an all-time high and academic workers are at the center the fight for quality and affordable higher education. We are already important. We need to grasp subjectively, in our perceptions, feelings, and actions, what is already objectively the truth: that we hold a lot of power.
At minimum, we should:
- Make CUNY and the Graduate Center a sanctuary campus;
- Deepen links between struggles of academic workers at CUNY and the GC with the wider labor movement in New York City;
- Center the needs and perspectives of adjuncts in all PSC activity.
The election of Donald Trump is not what it seems. The real meaning of this election won’t be known until we chose how we’re going to react to it. It’s up to us to define its meaning and its historical significance. And that is why we can win: why we have to win.
Dear PSCers –
This is a really rough day. I cried, walking around my neighborhood. I found it hard to make eye contact. I am sad, and like many, I feel fear. There is just no way to sugarcoat the presidency of a billionaire real estate parasite who ran a campaign based on racism and sexism.
But whatever draining feelings you have this morning, please don’t succumb to them. This is a moment when we can decide – not on who our president will be for the next four years (that decision has been made), but whether we will start today, now to build the power we need to make a different future.
We need a fully funded CUNY more than ever. We need to engage our co-workers and our working class students, most of whom are students of color, in this process of building power. Maybe you’ve thought of getting more involved, but felt too busy. Maybe you woke up this morning with the feeling of wanting to do something. Maybe this is the moment to make space for the work necessary to create a different future – for our union, for CUNY, for our city, for our society.
Solidarity & power,
PSC Chapter Chair, CUNY Graduate Center
This month CUNY Rising is kicking off their demand for a Students’ Bill of Rights (see below). This means advocating for, among other things, free tuition and adjunct parity. The PSC is proud to be one of the members of this alliance, and our chapter will hopefully have a strong showing at each of the three kick-off meetings. Please consider attending or or more of them (and RSVP to Sam)!
- Wednesday, November 16th, 6:30pm at BMCC
- Monday, November 21st, 6:30pm at CCNY
- Tuesday, November 22nd, 6pm at Brooklyn Borough Hall