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Monthly Archives: August 2017


TIAA Retirement Consultant

You can make an appointment to speak with the Graduate Center’s TIAA representative about your retirement during five on-campus visits this Fall semester. RSVP at www.TIAA.org/schedulenow

Graduate Assistant Bargaining Priorities

Our union contract expires this semester, so it’s time to weigh in on our priorities for the coming round of bargaining!

The Professional Staff Congress (PSC) is the labor union representing some 27,000 CUNY faculty, staff, and graduate student workers. The pay, benefits, and work conditions of most PhD students are determined by a contract that the PSC negotiates with the CUNY administration, New York City, and New York State.

The Graduate Assistant contract advisory committee of the PSC wants you to help set priorities for bargaining. In addition to salary increases, what do you want to see in the next contract? Better benefits? Better training and working conditions?

Take just a few minutes to vote here before September 1, to have your say in our contract fight.

If you have any questions activists will be in the GC lobby from 11am-5pm next week – stop by!

August 2nd EC Meeting Minutes

Minutes from chapter’s Executive Committee Meeting – 8/2/17

  • Finalize resolutions process (15 min)
    • Will be proposed to Sept chapter meeting
    • Made three revisions:
      • “Resolutions will pass upon majority vote. Vote shall be conducted within the state meeting time.”
        • Discussed whether there should be an informal quorum (official quorum is 10%, which we rarely meet). But any number seems arbitrary (50? 100?) and does not ensure that decisions made at meeting are representative of entire membership. One of the problems from the April meeting was that by the time the resolution came to a vote, most people had left. If votes must be held during the stated meeting time, we can at least ensure that most attendees are voting.
        • Because most votes will never reach official quorum, there’s point 10: “If the chapter meeting does not reach quorum, the resolution should be edited to replace all instances of “the GC chapter” with “members of the chapter assembled” at that particular meeting, and the edited resolution will still be discussed and voted upon.”
      • “Resolutions which break city, state, and/or federal laws shall be directed to the PSC Delegate Assembly instead of the Graduate Center chapter.”
      • “Chapter members, chapter committees, and the chapter Executive Committee will work to improve this process as needed.”
  • Mini training for beginning of the year department visits (15 min)
    • If you’ve signed up to take a department at the GC, contact that department’s APO by the end of this week. Ask if there is an orientation where you could present. And if the department hasn’t had any PSC contact yet, also try to schedule a general session not just for new students but for all
  • Legislative update (10 min)
    • Maintenance of Effort Bill; passed the senate and house in NYS; gives CUNY money that is owed to it (not additional funding); like a cost of living adjustment; Cuomo normally does not sign it; up in November; come up with educational material to distribute at campuses, via student associations, etc.; pickets and protests outside of Cuomo’s office; legislative committee was happy with amount of effort our campus put in last fall, good way to show our chops within the union
    • Need a one-pager for what the campaign would look like; Luke can take to chapter chair’s meeting
    • Cuomo was responsive about MTA stuff, esp via social media
    • Possibility to do good work of education around this issue; spotlight the role of Cuomo in CUNY which will be important for 7K and contract campaign; people need to know that he’s our boss
  • Contract strategy for the semester (20 min)
    • How to work with other campuses in our chapter?
    • How to work with full timers? (What about Janus?)
    • How to engage broader union strategy?
      • CUNY Rising? How do we give it life among membership on the campuses
    • Shouldn’t lead with “pay your dues!” That’s what anti-union people say unions want: your money; money isn’t here, it’s in Albany; need to implement something larger; what can we do and not do relative to the students? How do we mobilize them to influence their parents, representatives, etc. that’s where the leverage is; need to figure out what the outward facing campaign is: need a mechanism to get in touch with students, alumni, and parents
    • Met with 8th floor; pitched an idea using alumni data for political work
    • Where does civil disobedience come in?
    • How can structures that already exist for GAs be implemented for other titles? Can we make a team of reps of different titles? Stewards by title with EC members helping out?
  • Labor management strategies & dates for the semester (25 min)
    • Penny is on sabbatical next year; we need another person who will be the point person
  • Digital signage campaign proposal (5 minutes)
    • What should the exact purpose be?
      • Education – “Did you know?” series
      • Awareness about chapter – could spotlight EC reps
      • Campaign/project specific announcements: GA contract demand voting (Aug 28-Sep 4); MOE (fall)
    • Should we profile EC reps or other PSC members?
    • Should the quotes be responses to a specific prompt (if so, which one/s?) or be excerpted from our one-on-ones?
    • How can we make these as eye-catching as possible?
  • Other updates (5 min) – everyone
    • Marisa Holmes – rally next Monday, August 7. Spread the word and show up if you can.
    • CAP
    • Fall chapter meetings

July 12th EC Meeting Minutes

Minutes from chapter’s Executive Committee Meeting – 7/12/17

  • Beginning of year plans: one-stop, orientation, tabling (20 min.)
    • Working document linked above
  • Contract campaign plan (20 min.)
    • How to take maximum advantage, influence 61B:
    • Train stewards on survey – big task for all of September.
    • Luke on Bargaining Team – official but non-voting. How do we make that matter: accountability, reportage. Formal, systematic feedback mechanisms: what meetings are happening, what topics were discussed. What are the rules of engagement? Written reports? Reports at Chapter meetings? An office hour? A GA forum? Luke should also be representing Adjuncts, NTAs? Yes, but technically how?
    • Need to develop narratives & examples from person experiences
    • Contract demands thru chapter meetings and otherwise, to DA by end of October. Can we extend this discussion at Chapter meetings into October or does that cut too close?
    • What is the timeline, and creating our own timeline at this chapter – a group or subcommittee at the chapter both to build our own work and to influence 61 Broadway’s strategy
    • What’s up with course reduction for FTers?
    • Internet address for contract advisory groups
    • Have to figure out what is do-able, and whether to have a laundry list or a short prioritized list. Will the survey inform this decision?
  • Resolutions proposal (25 min.)
    • Working document linked above
    • We will finalize this proposal at August EC and bring to Sept chapt mtg for ratification
  • Plan chapter meetings for the year (20 min.)
    • Set dates & frequency
      • Two a semester – see below for why not more. Tuesday, Sept. 19 – 12:30; Try a 4:30 PM meeting – food is out then, give GAs things to do, meeting starts closer to 5. Wednesday, Nov. 15 – 4:30
    • Involving shop stewards
    • Beware of meeting fatigue. Don’t let it distract from organizing: workshops, department meeting – building out to more people, not just speaking to the same 30-40 people again and again.
    • Reinvigorate by voting on everything? Experiment with different processes until we find one that works? This should be a place where people weigh in and tell us what we should be doing at LM, DA, etc.
    • How do we get people to feel this matters?
    • L-M: Reportage, and getting suggestions for agendas for those meetings.
    • DA: reportage and getting suggestions on what to do there.
    • Collective bargaining suggestions can be voted on.
    • How to deal with far-flung campuses? Schedule meetings there too – once a semester at each campus?  
  • Misc items (5 min)
    • DSA interested in solidarity work w/ us; turnout at B&H pickets
    • Been in some talks with UAW folks organizing at the New School, and they are eager to support our union struggle.
    • CAP mtg monthly picketing — does this mean we will organize something for August?
    • how would folks feel about the Free CUNY campaign folks organizing a Free CUNY petition event outside CUNY Central?
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