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The GC Chapter Report, September 2016 – January 2017

These are bleak times, so we wanted to take a moment to report on the huge strides our chapter has made this academic year.

On top of our regular chapter-wide meetings, we had our chapter’s first ever New Member Orientation meeting this Fall, five committees have been established (anyone can join—more info here!), and between last Spring and this Fall we signed up 402 new members creating four more representatives for our chapter at the PSC Delegate Assembly (in addition to the 300+ that we signed up the year before, which created three additional positions). We also co-hosted events like the one with CFA organizer Jonathan Karpf on adjunct issues and the recent rally to support Saira Rafiee that took place outside of the GC. There is a lot still to do in the second half of the academic year, but for a fuller synopsis of chapter activities from the first half please see the report below.

 

More Money in the Pockets of Graduate Assistants

The organizational growth of the chapter has made both CUNY and the PSC leadership more responsive to the needs of GAs working for the GC.

  • Most GAs received a $750 contract ratification bonus in the fall compared with Adjuncts with a similar workload who, unfortunately, received only $250.
  • After meeting with Chase Robinson he agreed to maintain the current level of stipends when our wages go up this month and again in April. (Compare this with most 2nd-5th year Science Fellows, now paid through four-year colleges and not in our chapter, whose contractual raise may be clawed back by a reduction in other funding.)[1] He also agreed that next year’s admissions will enter at the new GCF first year rate of $26,128.

What if you think you didn’t get the right Retroactive Pay?

  • If you feel CUNY paid you the wrong amount or are just unsure, here’s a three step process:

Building a Fight for a Strong 2017 Contract in the Context of Trump

In an effort to spearhead the next contract negotiation and have greater participation in the process, the chapter has been a leader in identifying and mobilizing for a stronger and more inclusive contract fight at the GC and in the PSC as a whole.

  • Circulated a four-point contract plan at our December Chapter meeting centered around part-timer issues, support for CUNY Rising, preparation for a potential strike, and outreach to progressive labor forces. Began discussion within the chapter of wage and non-wage demands.
  • Proposed a “First Steps” resolution to the PSC with tangible steps including an immediate one-day planning “retreat,” quick constitution of an inclusive Negotiating Committee, and contract-focused meetings in all chapters. As a result of this work, the PSC Delegate Assembly adopted the heart of our proposal, and this full day planning meeting will take place in late February or early March.
  • Chapter activists are helping to create a PSC-wide survey of working conditions to better guide the formulation of demands and negotiations.
  • The Chapter formulated a change to PSC Constitution that will allow GAs and Adjuncts who change campuses to vote and run for office in their new chapter without the current waiting periods of four and twelve months respectively. This resolution was discussed at last month’s Delegate Assembly meeting. A subcommittee will work on it and then it will be up for a vote next month.

Internal Organizing and Outreach

Neither the fights described above or below are possible without building the number and training of activists and increasing the total number of GC-PSC members. The GC chapter has worked closely with HEOs in our shared goal of signing up new PSC members at the GC, regardless of title. This cooperative work has resulted in large chapter meetings, shared mobilizing efforts for last contract, committee work, membership drive and political actions.

  • An active presence at incoming orientation days meant we signed up most incoming 1st years as members.
  • The total membership increase means we have tripled the number of our representatives at the Delegate Assembly, beginning in April.
  • Public outreach through social media – the GC has a robust presence on
    Facebook:
    The Graduate Center PSC
    Twitter: @PSCCUNYGC
    Instagram:
    @PSCCUNYGC
  • We have made moderate progress on developing a departmental shop steward structure.
  • Discussions of workload issues has been ongoing at both the Departmental and GC-wide levels, with some success. We were able to establish that, in 2017-18, GAs at Hunter will only teach two sections, but were unable to get that change for the spring semester.
  • We have taken first steps to building organization at our affiliated campuses, the School of Professional Studies and the School of Public Health and held our first Labor-Management meeting at SPS.
  • We successfully changed the three-year appointment process for adjuncts at SPS and, after months of wrangling, we procured the release of a report on water safety there.
  • Discussions of what, concretely, it would mean to be a sanctuary campus are proceeding with Chase Robinson.
  • At each chapter meeting and each labor management committee meeting HEOs have given updates and made plans to implement the new provisions of the contract that are relevant to their titles.

Adjunct/External Organizing

The chapter has been active in mobilization and solidarity work with other chapters and other unions.

  • We are building strong ties to the Baruch and Brooklyn chapters and working with them to organize adjuncts there.
  • We have been active in the union’s official adjunct organization, and have put forward proposals that we believe will soon be adopted which will concretely strengthen adjunct organizing and political power within the union.
  • We held two meetings at CCNY to begin organizing the 2nd-5th year Science Fellows there in cooperation with the union chapter there.
  • We had initial discussions with Non-Teaching Adjuncts on other campuses in an attempt to better understand the issue of “Grader Pay.” A grievance about incorrect grader pay at Baruch and CCNY has been stalled by management for most of the semester.
  • Along with several other PSC chapters and the Adjunct Project, we hosted Jonathan Karpf of the CFA for a discussion on winning pay parity for adjuncts.
  • The chapter has mobilized to defend our membership from attacks by the Trump administration, including having a robust presence at the Women’s March and co-organizing a well-attended rally for PSC member Saira Rafiee.

[1] We are seeking to work with those other chapters to organize these former chapter members.


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