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October 19th Delegate Assembly Notes

Delegate Assembly (DA) Notes—Contract Demands (notes from Chloe Asselin)

On Thursday, October 19, the PSC leadership presented delegates with possible contract demands to vote on. Our contract expires on November 30, 2017, and we need to start bargaining for a new contract. Delegates were given 48 hours before the meeting to read the demands, which were created by the bargaining team with advice from different committees that rank-and-file members participated in.

The contract discussion went from 7-9pm. Some delegates raised concerns which were then answered by members of the bargaining team, other delegates presented amendments to the demands. All 8 amendments presented to the DA were introduced by Adjuncts and Graduate Assistants regarding Adjunct and GA concerns. 6 of the amendments were introduced by members of the Graduate Center chapter. Every amendment was voted down by the DA, which is made up of mostly full-time faculty and staff. Some of the votes around Adjunct and GA concerns were close and warranted card counts.  Many of the same people spoke multiple times throughout the evening. At 9pm, with 7 rank-and-file members standing at the microphone, a motion was made to cut the speaking list and move straight to the contract demand vote. The motion was approved [see approved bargaining agenda here] and the rank-and-file members at the microphone were not given the ability to speak. After the vote, President Bowen announced that the current contract’s expiration date is November 30th and that this will be a day of action for the PSC on different campuses and city-wide.

DA minutes

President Bowen

  • We need to use collective bargaining to improve teaching and learning at CUNY. Past contracts have won the basic gains we have today. Management, NYC mayor, and NYS governor not advocates of CUNY. Goal of contract is combining individual gains with structural changes.
  • Bold moves in contract demands according to President Bowen:
    • 5% salary increases for all
    • $7000 per course minimum for adjuncts
    • Move towards consolidating gains made in other rounds of bargaining- structural changes for HEOs, full-time teaching loads, and 3-year appointments for adjuncts
  • What’s not in the demands:
    • Demands for what we are currently grieving. If grieving, we are saying that we have a right and deserve to have it. If we put is as demand, we undermine the grievance and admit we don’t have it as a right.
    • Might be less ambitious demand than what is already there
    • Management will say not permissible at bargaining table
    • Priorities made by bargaining team
  • The only way we win is by fighting together. Balance in contract demands for all titles in CUNY. Fighting for whole city, not just ourselves.

Members of the bargaining team highlighted parts of the contract demands:

Andrea Ades Vasquez – Salary

  • Spoke in favor of $7000 per course for adjuncts. PSC fought for adjunct health insurance. All titles were on board. 1500 adjuncts have received 3-year appointments this past year. HEOs know job insecurity because HEOs have to wait 8 years for job security.
  • It will take many campaigns to win but union is on board for $7000 per course.

Nivedita Majumdar – Educational technology

  • Demands around educational technology. The politics of austerity diminish our compensation, erode our power as workers, and decrease quality of education. Online courses create multi-tiers of education. As you go down in economic privilege, educational technology becomes substitute for faculty. Removes power from faculty to shape curriculum.
  • Provision against outsourcing of online courses
  • Faculty should be able to choose modality of teaching course
  • Faculty must be informed of loss of intellectual property rights

Luke Elliott-Negri – Union dues, membership information, and reassigned time

  • Janus. Not in contract but we need to organize on our campuses, sign on fee payers, steward structures, activate membership
  • Demands include control over dues check-off, DC37 has had their membership information FOILed so PSC wants to know if PSC membership lists are FOILed, access to new hire orientations, and increase reassigned time for union work.

Contract Demand Discussion:

  • Things in last contract not implemented: Reduced teaching load for full-time faculty. Librarians off for 40 days but no librarian can ever do that because not enough librarian faculty,
    • Progress has been made in full-time teaching load for faculty
    • All library faculty can take that time and should report to union if don’t get it
  • $7000 per course. Need to activate 11,000 adjuncts. Need MOE paid. Need whole union as one demand.
  • $7000 per course. How does this affect science faculty who have to teach 6 hours so twice the amount of hours?
    • $7000 is minimum so will be proportional to size of course
  • Adjunct CLTs.
    • Adjunct CLTs are in different universe than instructional. Need to get job security before expanding. Demand has provision on CLT health insurance
  • Amendment presented by Adjuncts: $7000 per course for adjuncts great but need job security too. Non-economic demands- seniority system by date of hire that gives seniority rights to courses, revisions of 3-year hire needed but too many adjuncts will not qualify (Vote fails 48-79).
    • Speaking Against: seniority has been demand in the past. Has been argued in the past. CUNY very much opposed. Have been through two rounds of bargaining unable to achieve this. 3-year appointment was a breakthrough. Need to solidify 3-year appointment and not have diversions.
    • Speaking in Favor: 3-year was breakthrough but excludes so many people. We have 12500 adjuncts and only 1500 on 3-year appointments. Good start but we need to have seniority on the table.
    • Speaking Against: 3-year appointments are structural change at CUNY. Ongoing and more adjuncts will fall into the pool going forward. In this contract, demands improve 3-year. Seniority system in most unions no-brainer, but complicated with diverse pool of adjuncts. Will have perverse effects. If lose a course, lose healthcare.
    • President Bowen said that some of the issues about adjuncts not eligible for 3-year, this contract seeks to address. Demand 10 out of 14 semesters rather than 10 consecutive semesters to get appointment.
  • Salary differential for HEOs. How will changes affect HEO salary differential and promotion? There is nothing about promotion in the demands. At City College, salary differential denied because of lack of money.
    • Management uses excuses of lack of money to not honor HEO assignment differentials. This needs to be put in the contract and then we need to push management to deliver on it.
    • Hunter has said no salary differentials for HEO.
  • Clarification: Department chairs are complicit in hiring adjuncts. $7000 is important but what about process. Usually win amount of money in contract fight and divide it up. 5% for all and $7000 per adjunct both a lot of money. What will get prioritized?
    • President Bowen- pattern bargaining throughout city. We have to use force of bargaining to say there needs to be infusion into CUNY’s budget to pay for salaries for part-timers. Increase of 1-2-3% seen as incremental. 50-100% is major change and that is what we need. CUNY management budgets on underpaid faculty. Use leverage of bargaining to demand something that exceeds demand. Also fighting on city and state budget. Approach of adding, not subtracting.
  • Educational technology- Chancellor is pushing for 25% to be online. Faculty underpaid for course development. Only paid to teach course and not to develop course. Faculty at BMCC attended 9-week course not paid for. BMCC decided 50-50 ownership for the course.
    • Work for hire means that if you are hired to do work outside of regular work and if that work is subject to copyright laws. Faculty create courses and have ownership. Work for hire means you lose ownership of that course. How does 50-50 ownership work at BMCC? A lot of new territory so in contract so that university knows practices are under scrutiny.
    • A lot of demands in Edtech. None of those demands won in last contract. Faculty attending courses for free is violation of current contract and is a grievance.
    • Arguing for intellectual property was lost in courts.
  • Amendment presented by Adjuncts: 3-year appointments. Change from mandatory to discretionary. Up to adjuncts to decide. Against up and out clause so that adjuncts don’t get fired (motion fails).
    • Speaking against: would you make tenure discretionary? Will be abused because adjuncts have no power.
    • Speaking for: Protect adjuncts who could be fired because up for 3-year and don’t get it. If go up for 3-years and don’t get it (can be subjective), can lose your job. Doesn’t undermine provision. Some of 1500 adjuncts were not all senior adjuncts. Not grandfathering.
    • Speaking against: Discretionary takes power from part-timer and gives it to chair. Chair can use it as leverage to part-time faculty. This is structural change and changes come with tradeoffs. Opting out of job security provision.
  • Graduate Assistant demands. Did not happen automatically. We went from 13-67% GA union membership. Got 600 respondents on survey. Point of clarification about stipends being reduced. Stipends are work related money because GC makes it that way. We must take whole fellowship and cannot take only part of it.
  • Adjunctification undermines full-time and undermines our education. Really need to center $7000 per course and job security as non-negotiable demand.
    • PSC fought for health insurance and 3-year provision more than anything.
  • Amendment presented by Graduate Assistants: 27a. Language in current contract does not match what GC does. Contract says graduate students are only eligible for 3-years of funding. Most of those packages are for 5-years. Tuition only 5 years for graduate students and takes longer particularly at CUNY (motion fails).
    • Speaking Against: President Bowen: this is complicated. Article 11 in contract about GAs is badly defined. That whole language needs to be updated. The practice now is to ignore that provision that it is only 3-years of funding. Some interest on management in changing that. CUNY management may request this. Could undermine our claim that the past practice of 5-years should stand and same sentiment might be coming from management.
    • Speaking For: Not just about changing the language from 3 years to 5 years but also the current contract says that after 3 years you can get additional 2 years by jumping through hoops. Leave that language in place to 5 years with addition of 2 years. Past practice is fine, but we want to expand to 7 years.
    • Speaking Against: Tactical question. Brought it to President Robinson at GC. Bargaining team educated and on same page. Don’t need to change it in PSC contract.
  • Amendment presented by Graduate Assistants: 28b. Change to non-teaching adjuncts 150 hours 6 of previous 10 semesters rather than 6 consecutive semesters because health issues, pregnancies, family time means sometimes teach over the summer (motion fails).
    •  Speaking Against: NTAs want tuition waivers. Don’t have access at all. That is focus.
    • Speaking Against: Borrowing language from instructional adjuncts in this provision to make it more effective to win. If change language, will be more difficult.
  • 27d- what does “certain provisions” mean? GAs want step increases. Language became more vague and step increases not there.
  • Amendment presented by Graduate Assistants: 27c. Want adequate funding for all graduate students. At the moment multiple tier system exists in departments where only certain students get fully funded. Add “adequate funding for all PhD students”. The Amendment was withdrawn after discussion.
    • Speaking Against: Problem with word “students” because we bargain for employees
    • Speaking For: Fight for all students because then all become employees. Make committee to discuss this.
    • Speaking Against: Just demand and just objective. Question is what is hook? Management hates committees. It is a lot of work to get them to form a committee. Those issues should emerge when we constitute committee. But adding it will be obstacle.
    • A Full-time faculty suggested that the Amendment as constituted weakens current demand. Make it a new demand.
      • Speaking Against: We don’t represent graduate students. Trump board will overturn fact that graduate employees can organize. We don’t want to undermine that we represent graduate employees. Political demand rather than contract demand.
  • Three Amendments presented by Graduate Assistants and Adjuncts where adjuncts don’t have parity with full-timers (motion fails).
    • 1. 24.2b No other contractual titles have six consecutive semesters to move a step penalizing those that do research or have child care issues. Move to 6 semesters rather than 6 consecutive semesters.
      • Speaking For: A lot of people lose their step increases because they have to start over again.
      • Question: Can anyone take a leave and still have a step?
      • Speaker Against: takes away from fight for $7000 per course.
    • 2. Compensation for course cancellations within two weeks prior to the beginning of the semester. Cancellation within this time period can result in a loss of health benefits.
      • Speaking For: Asking for only 2 weeks for compensation for loss of a class. 2 weeks is nothing.
      • Speaking Against: 3-year appointments mean adjuncts do have to be compensated. Registration is not closed 2 weeks in advance to allow more students to register, so it’s not possible. It works both ways. The fact that more students register is an opportunity for more adjuncts to get hired, but may also not produce that.
      • Speaker Against: takes away from fight for $7000 per course.
    • 3. 6.3 Part-time staff cannot have release time.
      • Speaking Against: Given stipends. Paid in stipends, not release time.
      • Speaking For: Not equivalent of teaching a course so part-timers lose health insurance for doing this work if don’t teach 2 courses.
      • Speaking For: Some adjuncts teach 4 courses and do union work on top of that.
      • Speaking Against: Reassigned time paid by CUNY and adjuncts not paid if not teaching. Thus, the union pays for that time.
  • At 9pm, with 7 rank-and-file members standing at the microphone, a motion was made to cut the speaking list and move straight to the contract demand vote. The motion was approved and the rank-and-file members at the microphone were not given the ability to speak.

Contract Demands were Approved

President Bowen announced that the current contract’s expiration date is November 30th and that this will be a day of action for the PSC on different campuses and city-wide.


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