As we wrap up the semester, I just wanted to remind us all of the incredible work we have done in this last year to build the power of our union. Activists in our chapter signed up hundreds of new members, secured more money and additional health benefits for Graduate Assistants, helped to vamp up adjunct organizing city-wide, organized numerous social solidarity events, and much more! For a fuller list of what we have accomplished together, see below.
With our contract expiring in the Fall and an impending union-busting ruling from the Supreme Court, we must continue this momentum over the summer. Join the team that will be leading the contract campaign fight, and check our calendar regularly for updated events. See you out there!
Anh Tran, on behalf of the PSC-GC Executive Committee
- We organized a series of workshops on contingent labor with a guest speaker from the California Faculty Association, a union which has achieved pay parity and job security for adjuncts.
- Our committees—Grievance, Internal Organizing, Solidarity, HEO Steering —have increased member participation in the work of the chapter, and signed up over a dozen new departmental stewards so that the union would have a presence and mobilizational force in every department.
- We compelled Graduate Center management to stop lowering stipends to offset contractual raises—this means over $1,000 more per year in every Graduate Assistant-B’s pocket.
- We won back-pay and signing bonuses for Graduate Assistants for the first time.
- We signed up hundreds of new members in our chapter, and the cumulative work of the past three years nearly tripled our representation at the Delegate Assembly.
- We led the push at the Delegate Assembly for bottom-up contract negotiations and a PSC-wide Contract/Budget strategy meeting.
- We helped to organize and expand the Committee of Adjuncts and Part-Timers, an organizing tool for part-timers throughout the CUNY system.
- We ended the one year “wait period” for health insurance when Graduate Assistants transfer from the dissertation deposit phase to Adjuncting.
- We expanded access to the Professional Development Fund for more Graduate Assistants.
- We organized a petition drive at the School of Professional to pressure the administration to ensure safe drinking water in the building.
- We organized picketing with Verizon workers for the duration of their strike, demonstrating our commitment to union issues beyond CUNY.
- We organized a speakout and protest in front of the steps of the Graduate Center when a GC student and chapter member, Saira Rafiee, was denied entry into the U.S. due to Trump’s Muslim travel ban.
- We organized a speakout on International Women’s Day.
- We led a contingent of GC students to the May Day marches.
- We organized a film screening and day of solidarity with the release of two political prisoners: Chelsea Manning and Oscar Lopez Rivera.
- Through labor management meetings, we pressured GC management into giving our union chapter an office space, to follow up on 1,000 undelivered bonus checks, and to to speed up IRB procedures.
Minutes from GC Chapter Meeting 5/24
Welcome – Anh
- Goal of meeting is to create an action team-Contract Campaign Committee/Action Team- that can put into action plans of this meeting
Political Context for Contract Campaign – Penny, Andrea
- Our contract expires in November
- Bad pattern has been set by state unions: 2-2-2 pattern
- We will almost certainly be facing a 20% cut in our operating budget because of Janus
- Resistance to Cuomo has fallen because he is positioned as progressive in public eye as compared to Trump and with free tuition
- Big campaign against Constitutional Convention by many unions and allies. NY Labor Movement is incredibly concerned about this. Pushing people to vote against Constitutional Convention because afraid right-wing interests will oppose workers interests, the homeless, school children.
- More people are agitated and political engaged in decades. People are angry.
- Studies about what CUNY does for people of NY. Helps us make a case.
- Resisting Trump means supporting public sector and supporting public unions.
- The fight for $15 and fights for inequality means our fight for $7K for adjuncts and movement of salary scales for people at the bottom. Our arguments are going with that.
- We have over 1 million CUNY alum as untapped resource.
- Public campaign for support of CUNY is possible.
- With the contract campaign, we are going to be listening and talking about recommitment campaign. Means we will have a more mobilized membership to fight for campaign.
- HEOs met last week (about 30 present) to talk about contract last week
- We will be hearing issues, strategies, plans to report to bargaining team
- Fill out survey
Open Discussion on Contract Campaign – everyone
- Why is PEF 222 bad? Because it’s below inflation raises and not enough! We need flexibility to use our pot of money for our specific needs → this is a disappointing public sector union pattern
- Need more money for salaries, parental leave, higher wages for people at lowest salaries. Much more constrained in creativity when don’t have money.
- Extra money will come from budget campaign because hard to break a pattern
- If we have a contract campaign tied to a public campaign and CUNY as engine for mobility then Governor may do it.
- Reach out to CUNY alumni to swing public opinion in our favor
- CUNY does not keep good records of its alumni! → PSC should directly appeal to alumni → part of a public-facing contract campaign
- People in this city care about CUNY and we need to take advantage of this!
- Should we maximize the discontent around Excelsior Scholarship?
- We need to educate ourselves on Excelsior Scholarship, its limitations & possibilities
- Anne from Financial Aid can get us detailed info
- Excelsior not free tution, undergrad only, must be 30 credits, cannot drop credits. Most students do not take 30 credits every academic year. Designed for only a certain type of student. When graduate have to stay in NY State- must find a job and must file tax return. If you get admitted for a grad program out of state, you can’t go. And it turns into a loan. Financial Aid people don’t like this. Maximum it pays is $5500. Only pays left over of tuition not met and none of it goes in hand of student.
- Do we tap into people who become disillusioned? By mid-semester people will realize that this is a big lie
- PSC Member Survey missing “option” for engaging PSC leadership with our demands & our ideas + missing option for open bargaining
- PSC Member Survey results should be made public
- Rank-and-file members should control the narrative
- Every member should have access to survey to make own cross-tabs.
- PSC Member Survey results should be made public
- Need to find out what unifies all the titles in the union, what one another’s issues are
- Need to familiarize ourselves with each other’s issues and advocate for one another
- When we engage in conversations, how do we approach full-time, part-time, HEO, CLT, how do we open up ways of talking to each other and what unifies us in terms of the contract? HEO may not know what adjunct needs. How open it up?
- PSC Executive Council’s timeline calls for EC creating demands committee rather than consulting with existing committees → how do we create a more horizontal flow of information & ideas
- Timeline will be shorter. Subcommittees are way of functioning- adjunct subcommittee or GA subcommittee (2-3 people). Advisory committees are not on Bargaining Team.
- When EC appoints bargaining team, will the Bargaining Team include people often excluded like Grad Assistants, CLTs, etc.? Should be crucial part of GC contract campaign.
- We are currently campaigning the Executive Council to invite on a GA. We are mapping out EC and pushing GA on bargaining team. There has been a positive response. Andrea and Penny are on board.
- BT needs to be more responsive than in the past.
- Mandate detailed reportbacks on each bargaining session
- BT needs to be more responsive than in the past.
- Include more adjuncts on the bargaining team- proportional representation.
- Adjuncts need an independent voice. Full-time does not represent all.
- Has always been a CLT on the BT in the past (this time the CLT on it retired and moved away mid-process but usually there is one).
- In the past there have been two contracts there where were GAs on the BT.
- Does the governor & board of trustees know and care about CUNY’s starvation for funds? Are they receptive to studies about CUNY stating its integral role in socioeconomic mobility? What do we do when they say there is no money?
- We need a robust contract campaign connected to public campaign for CUNY funding & budget campaign → learn from Chicago Teacher’s Union with their creative campaign linking these different issues
- Think ahead to next year’s NYC & NYS budget/election cycle to develop our strategies → The current ones are not including more money to increase adjunct pay. Need longer view and need to get serious about contract and budget campaign. This spring, wanted to plug into an active campaign around budget and didn’t happen from union. Opportunity not being given by union. Adjuncts weren’t able to testify because not union priority. Broad campaign around more funding for CUNY.
- Last round of bargaining had long time. Listened on every campus. We have a complicated bargaining unit with many titles. We had long lists of demands some very detailed and some very broad. We did a lot of listening and unfortunately we didn’t win all of them. Kept records about what members said from different titles. What did we get last time? Do we need more on another title? Grad Assistants weren’t on radar last time and that should be different. The listening on every campus is happening. People are meeting and expressing concerns.
- Possible that Janus Supreme Court decision (right-to-work for less) may come down earlier than expected
- DC 37 negotiators, they think Janus decision will come earlier Dec or Jan and they already know that a right-wing think tank in NY has foiled their membership list and they anticipate the day after this decision that everyone in DC37 will get a letter saying you can save $500. Janus says people who are agency fee payers will not have to pay dues.
- Need to set concrete numeric goals in regards to internal organizing for the contract campaign
- At GC we got people out for May Day and Women’s Strike. How can we as a chapter help politicize this building more? How do we resist the normalization of Trump? → this needs to be made explicit in contract campaign plans
- Members need a stake & a voice in the process
- What is the proposed timeline by the PSC Executive Council missing?
- Nothing on public outreach!
- Consider timeline as a working document. Something that we can contribute to.
- Chapter meetings could have educational pieces that dig deeper into relevant & pertinent issues so that we are more prepared for action
- How do we involve the maximum number of members in our public campaign
- We will most likely lose adjuncts when we lose agency fee → adjunct fight needs to be central in contract campaign
- The Strike Authorization Vote was the most invigorating time for us → learn from SAV campaign for the contract campaign: what worked, what didn’t work
- “Practice round” for militant contract campaign actions yesterday (5/23) when Cuomo visited the Graduate Center
- Dozen HEOs and GAs came out last minute with signs to protest Cuomo’s budget before getting thrown out
- Seems like contract campaign only at union and not on campuses based on
- Do we anticipate that CUNY will be working with anti-union consultants? What messages for inoculation of membership?
Events calendar – Gerry
- Each committee should meet over summer. Anything about GC and/or labor. Graduate Center chapter of PSC. Linked to social media