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Resolution Against the Proposed Plan to Implement an ‘Excellency Fee’ for Masters’ Students

Adopted 11/13/17


WHEREAS, President Chase Robinson and Provost Joy Connolly have proposed a plan to effectively increase the tuition for Masters’ students at the Graduate Center by proposing a $100/credit ‘excellency fee’; and

WHEREAS, Masters’ students are required to take 6-12 credits for full-time status, and most Masters’ students take at least 6 credits per semester, which would amount to $600-$1,200 per semester effective increase in tuition; and

WHEREAS, because the GC’s budgeting process is not transparent or democratic, there is no evidence that the money from the proposed fee would go directly to benefit Masters’ students; and

WHEREAS, on October 23rd, the CUNY Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition, by up to $200 /yr for full-time master’s resident students; and

WHEREAS, the total cost of attending an institution of higher learning is more than just tuition and fees; and

WHEREAS, the cost of living in New York City has risen about 23% from 2009 to 2014; and

WHEREAS, in the 2015-2016 academic year, CUNY estimated that students living at home would spend approximately $9,592 in books, transportation, and living expenses, while students not living at home would spend approximately $20,295 on such expenses; and

WHEREAS, instead of demanding funding from the state for increasing services, President Robinson and Provost Connolly are shifting the cost for needed services down to already cash-strapped students; and

WHEREAS, the rising tuition and expenses, stagnant financial aid assistance, insufficient state funding, and the prevalence of low-wage jobs undermine the affordability and stymies the accessibility to higher education and the advancement of a highly-educated and skilled workforce; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the GC chapter of the Professional Staff Congress hereby expressly rejects the plan to levy an ‘excellency fee’ on Masters’ students; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the GC chapter of the Professional Staff Congress rejects any and all future plans to implement tuition increases under the guise of additional fees; and, be it

RESOLVED, that the GC chapter of the Professional Staff Congress urges management to deploy its ample resources to lead a public campaign and lobbying effort for the full funding of the Graduate Center, and, be it

FINALLY RESOLVED, that the GC chapter of the Professional Staff Congress demands that President Chase Robinson and Provost Joy Connolly release a plan to fund services for Masters’ students without increasing tuition or fees.

November 13th Chapter Meeting Notes

Notes from GC Chapter Meeting – 11/13/17

12:40: Approve agenda

Bill Herbert made announcement about the National Higher Education Collective Bargaining Conference happening on April 15-17, 2018 at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Resolution Against the Proposed Plan to Implement an ‘Excellency Fee’ for Masters’ Students.

  • Presented by Doctoral Student Council
  • President Chase Robinson and Provost Joy Connolly have proposed to increase $100/credit for Masters’ student after the Board of Trustees already voted to increase tuition up to $200/yr.
  • Would apply to all Masters’ Students
  • Argument for solidarity. We should support students who we will need to support us in our contract campaign.
  • Robinson and Connolly are some of the highest paid Admins in CUNY but Masters’ students used to balance budget at GC
  • Amendment- Additional resolve. Resolve that the GC Chapter of the PSC push CUNY management to fully fund GC as solution rather than make Masters’ students pay.
  • Amendment and Resolution passed

Presentation of bargaining demands

  • We are about to launch a contract campaign. Union did a union-wide survey that fed into demands and will help us in bargaining.
  • It took us a long time to get the previous contract, but we built power and are ready for next fight
  • Members want a quicker settlement this time around
  • Cross-title solidarity. We need to fight for each other’s demands.
  • We all need to own the $7k demand. Will be a big budget demand.
  • Open and broaden up participation
  • Janus- need to recommit to union
  • 6 themes- make real gains in salary, achievable breakthrough in adjunct salary, decrease contingency and dependence on online courses, protect members with unions under attack, address needs for equity, consolidate gains of last contract

Review of HEO, Adjunct, and librarian demands from contract 

  • 7K – How do you get 7K? University of Chicago Illinois- Full-time faculty went out on strike for 7K for adjuncts. Victory for all.
  • Library faculty asking for more leave because of weak implementation from last contract. Annual leave rather than a research leave you have to apply for. Gains were supposed to come with additional line for each campus- Cost-ed but not budgeted so no one got additional line so workforce increase for those that are still working.
  • NTAs fighting for same health benefits as adjuncts

Discussion on contract

  • GA demands. How many demands from the GA survey made it into the demands?
    • Top vote getting was $7K for adjuncts (in bargaining agenda).
    • Extend tuition remission for PhD students beyond 5 years. (in bargaining agenda).
    • Way for part-time faculty to become full-time faculty and for GAs to get lecturer lines at CUNY (not directly addressed in bargaining agenda. Job security second to 7K in bargaining demands).
    • Two-tier between fully funded and partially funded PhD students (not directly addressed in bargaining agenda).  Need universal funding. Revive labor-management committee already in contract to figure out funding for GC.
    • Caps on class sizes explicitly dropped.
  • In general in CUNY history, how long does it take to settle contract? How prioritize what push and what give up in demands?
    • In past have taken 3-5 years. Last year was the longest. Retroactive pay each time.
    • City pattern is 2%
    • Length of the contract is not decided in advance. Has to be negotiated and is strategic/ timing before recessions
    • Prioritizing happens first among members (committees) and also questions of how many huge economic demands put forth at the same time (currently 7K)
    • Bargaining committee brings it to EC and then goes to delegates and then to members
    • Largest financial demand is 7K and 5% salary increases. Faculty and HEO are more than Adjuncts so the salary increase is more than 7K demand.
    • Boss, CUNY management, is supposed to find money for raises, not the union. But CUNY management already defeated and says we won’t get money and so we need to get it from within like raising Masters’ fees.
    • Raise for adjuncts need to be reflected for NTAs. NTAs have health benefit issue. Need to work max number of hours to get health benefits. Many work those hours but irregularly and so CUNY denies the health benefits. Contract demands this is regularized over year.

NYSHIP students have is limited compared to full-time and state

  • Does not pay for take-home medical equipment. Student plan only covers 15 visits a year.

Organizing to get contract demands

  • Our contract ends on Nov 30th. There is a plan on doing events at different campuses- GC, Brooklyn College, and Hunter College
    • Meeting November 14 in 6107 at the GC from 12:30-2pm to plan action at the GC
    • Nov 30th rally will be around GC specific concerns.
    • Wear a button
  • Rank-and-file picket organized in September that brought out over 100 members. Not PSC central endorsed. We need to keep mobilizing as rank-and-filers
  • Dec 4 will be city-wide PSC demonstration. Starts at GC at 4:30pm and march to Baruch shortly after 5pm.
    • Committee of Adjuncts and Part-timers- make sure 7K is prominent in demand.  
      • Phone bank Friday, Nov 17th at PSC union from 4-6pm: 61 Broadway: and Monday Nov 20th from 4-6pm. Phone bank to turn out people to Dec 4 event.
    • GC PSC chapter will table week before Dec 4 to get people signed up
  • Is PSC central allocating money to campuses?
    • GC endorsed a resolution brought to DA to allocate NTA money for on the ground organizing. One-on-one organizing.
    • DA did not vote on this. Voted to referring it back to the EC and see if it will be implemented. Vote for referring it back was almost unanimous.
    • Vast majority of our chapter budget goes to sandwiches at meetings. Get a couple of thousand more if don’t get sandwiches.
  • We are not starting from square one right now. Rank-and-filers have been organizing through summer and in the fall. We need to keep organizing locally and without depending on PSC central to give us orders each time.

Labor-Management Demands

  • Out of pocket expenses for events
  • Continue discussion of options for two extra years of GA renewal beyond current five
  • Revising admission and yearly financial aid award letters to reflect actual allocations and work requirements
  • Science Fellows issues review
  • Follow-up on Social Welfare Doctoral Program
  • Administrative staffing of new departments/programs

What else?

  • Equal funding for all PhD students. Stop two-tier funding.
  • More parity in GA teaching placements. Need to also address it in departments. Varies from department to department. Assigned to campuses and once at campuses out of hands of department. Negotiation happens between GC EOs and Department EOs. Good labor-management demand that admin here take accountability for students. EOs are part of PSC so also PSC issue.

Marisa Holmes

  • Hunter graduate. Worked for 4-years at CUNY TV. University public access station.
  • Layoffs happened at CUNY TV without discussing it with either union- DC37 and PSC. Workers were successful in seize and desist going into affect.
  • CUNY TV then implemented hours cut. Two different lines doing same job so that CUNY can avoid paying benefits for some workers. Workers fought against split-title issue and successfully got settlement for 57 people.
  • A New Director got hired who used to work at Fox. Evaluate, interrogate.
  • Then there was a crack down and organizers were targeted. Workers were reassigned and demoted. There are 2 retaliation claims at the moment.
  • Marisa received notice that told her she no longer had her job. Not sure if fired or let go. Now environment of fear at CUNY TV.
  • DC37 and PSC have been holding rallies. Raise awareness.
  • Next hearing is Feb 14 for retaliation claim.

November 3rd EC Meeting Minutes

Minutes from chapter’s Executive Committee Meeting – 11/3/17

  • Reflections on Oct DA & coordination at future DAs – 25 min
    • EC member asked Marc why GAs & adjuncts took up so much of the discussion
      • Luke wasn’t able to set up mtg w/ GA advisory group b/f DA because BT hasn’t discussed what BT members can reportback to their constituencies & what they can’t → Luke couldn’t tell us what the discussions in BT looked like so naturally we had many Qs & suggestions
    • The Q is how much energy we should spend on process vs organizing/building
    • A better procedure for the future would be to release demands early & then allow formal submission of amendments so everyone can review leading up to DA → will prevent frantic environment & more productive discussion
      • Can we do something substantive with this demand? Create a resolution?
    • DA failed to give ppl sense of ownership of the demands
    • All PSC-EC members should coordinate our resolutions & amendments w/ the rest of the team
    • Also share organizing reports at DA more than just amendments
  • Goals for the GC Chapter Meeting on 11/13 & advice for the planning team – 15 min
    • Choose certain demands & focus there? Mapping of couple issues (targets, allies)
    • Cross-title sharing of top demands–line up ppl to give short testimonies
    • Small group discussions of why a certain demand is important or to do mapping
    • Mobilize for contract campaign rally on 12/4 (day of BoT mtg at Baruch) → have sign-up sheet, get ppl to turn out colleagues & reportback on google form
    • Discussion Q of what the GC’s intervention should be in the contract campaign
    • Post & announce report on community mtg or participatory budgeting & bring in info about mtg w/in strategy discussion
    • Report on WAC grievance
    • Announcement on campus actions around 7k
  • Sexual harassment procedures among PSC – 5 min
    • In light of recent high-profile sexual harassment casts in Hollywood & labor movement, we should explore some options for dealing with this among our activist ranks
    • PSC staff has procedures w/in framework of contract & applies to POs
    • Anh will talk to Deirdre for ideas on what’s been done & existing policies
  • Agency fee payers update – 10 min
    • Our beginning of semester push has died down
    • We still have roughly 60 FT fee-payers → contributes a large chunk of PSC budget
    • FTers on our EC has been working on converting fee payers
    • Still 300 GA fee payers → what’s our plan?
      • Sam and Maya just did mapping across depts
      • Hard sciences have moved from red (low membership coverage) to green (high membership coverage)
      • We haven’t FoIL’ed yet for department info on new students
      • Business is still red
    • How to build stewards structure?
      • Last stewards mtg: stewards will find a steward in an uncovered dept
      • Depts w/ stewards have high coverage & the people who haven’t already signed up will likely not sign up
      • How to find stewards in uncovered depts?
        • Assign depts for EC members to recruit a steward
        • EC member could team up w/ steward
      • Leverage ppl’s presence at chapter meeting; use sign-in sheets to ID potential stewards
  • Items for Labor Management on 11/28 & strategies for follow-up – 10 min
    • Stuff to f/u on from last LM: 5-1-1, raise GA work cap, financial aid letters, Social Welfare students
    • Stuff to add to next mtg: reimbursements for students who spend out of pocket, request Provost presence at every LM mtg, names of GAs for whom we don’t have adequate dept data (to avoid FoIL process)
    • Strategies to hold mgmt accountable:
      • Marc will maintain spreadsheet of items we’ve raised so we can follow up
      • Public shaming at chapter mtgs, community mtgs
    • Talk to DC 37 about NTAs & part-time titles
  • Solidarity w/ Georgette Fleischer – 5 mins
    • We sent letter requesting reinstatement to Barnard, but this was ignored
      • Many institutions have sent letters after we did
    • Now in grievance
      • 1st arbitrator on list not available until Apr; next 2 are available immediately; but Barnard not moving down the list
      • Boston College AAUP’s letter calls on Barnard to move down the list → do we send a similar letter?
      • Will send to PSC beforehand as courtesy
  • Mutual aid proposal – 5 mins
    • One of our members has serious health issues & NYSHIP health insurance doesn’t cover → can we have a mutual aid solidarity fund? But issues w/ criteria, admin, ethics
    • Chapter meeting pass the hat on ad hoc basis better  
    • Or pass these issues onto DSC
  • Approach toward 7k organizing and turnout for contract rally – 15 min
    • Stewards have been informed about options for adjunct organizing
    • Adjunct Project held event this past week
    • Promoting on social media is fine for most issues
    • Mobilize to whatever PSC 7k stuff is happening, but to the extent that that’s not happening, we can roll w/ the 7k coalition if they come to chapter EC w/ specific asks

Proposed Agenda for 11/13 Chapter Meeting

  • Amend & adopt proposed agenda (3 min)
  • Bill Herbert- Announcement on Center for Higher Education Collective Bargaining, Hunter College (2 min)
  • Andrea Vasquez- Introduction of PSC/CUNY bargaining demands (5 mins)
    • Context for bargaining demands
    • How does bargaining proceed?
  • Brief presentation of top demands for 3 PSC job titles (HEOs, GAs, Adjuncts) (10 mins)
    • Why it is important to understand demands across the membership?
  • Open discussion of bargaining agenda (25 mins)
    • Reflections & reactions
    • How will members be involved in the organizing and bargaining process?
  • Fundraising for GC member’s medical issue (2 mins)
  • Open Discussion on translating demands into victories (30 mins)
    • What organizing is already taking place? How do we plug in?
    • How can we increase mobilization across all job titles?
    • What role will the GC play in overall PSC efforts?
    • What areas can the GC community be engaging in to pressure management?
    • Sign-up & recruitment for Dec 4th Contract Action
  • Discussion of Upcoming Labor/Management Meeting (13 mins)
    • Gains from previous Labor/management meeting
    • What needs to be followed up on from previous meetings?
    • What needs to be addressed at upcoming meeting?
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