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May 22nd Labor-Management Meeting Notes

Elizabeth Newtown’s notes from the Graduate Center’s Labor-Management Meeting – 3/12/18

In attendance from Management: Chase Robinson (GC President), Jane Herbert (President’s Chief of Staff), Lynette Phillips (GC Labor Designee)

In attendance from Labor: Anh Tran (Vice Chapter Chair), Marc Kagan (Delegate), and a number of other PSC members (note: will update with exactly who was there)


  • Robinson asks what happened to “protocol” to submit list of people in attendance on the PSC
  • Point raised about data gathering about which students who are funded
  • Marc asks what they’ll do with the list of demands; Robinson says they’ll read; Marc asks if they’ll respond
  • Robinson claims they’ve already responded to certain items by saying this isn’t the context in which to discuss
  • The issue is not the willingness to discuss the issues but the venue in which the issue is discussed
  • Jane says that these are indeed terms of employment
  • Dean Olan–Task Force– has apparently been in touch with Marc and Luke, Robinson claims sometime in the fall the committee will be set up
  • Marc raises the “respect issue” and consistency of honorifics among different people being referred to
  • Robinson: “you’ll recall that 2 or 3 weeks ago at that extraordinary meeting
  • Robinson: trying to find “where we can operate within the language”
  • Robinson: “it’s not just a matter of finding the appropriate venue, but of trying to make sure that all voices are heard” — “there are a diversity of student views, there are a diversity of faculty views”
  • Robinson: “I share your optimism”

Item 2 – ASRC/Communications Grievance

  • Ryan of the ASRC speaks to advocate on behalf of his reappointment; raised revenue through film shoots; received notice that he would not be reappointed due to “budget cuts”
    • Ryan and two others are in process of filing grievances that are presently before Lynette
    • Anh asks for further rationale about why these people would not be reappointed
    • Ryan was told it was about budget cuts, however Robinson won’t concede that “You’ve represented that the issue was budget cuts” Chase Robinson to Ryan
    • Lynette not comfortable speaking about personnel and personal grievances in a labor management/public discussion
    • Anh: we wanted Ryan to be here to show that there are real lives being affected, that people are job insecure and they want the community to know this
    • Robinson: “the process exists to establish the facts”
    • Issue is raised of relationship between an individual’s layoff and broader community issues
    • Anh: those three layoffs are a “symptom of a broader problem” which is that “workers feel intimidated in that department [communications]”
    • Robinson: “there are a set of representations to be confirmed”

Item 3 – Macauley

  • Anh: for #3 we will stick with the grievance process (the Macauley issue)

Item 4 – 5:1:1 issue

  • Marc: “many people in that room who are not yet done with their PhDs have now exhausted their time as a GA” / “it is not primarily about departments because departments can do what they want” but there are “GA opportunities that exist outside of the departments, such as this, that people are currently ineligible for”
  • Marc: what I wanted to followup on is that Joy Connolly said she would bring this issue (5-1-1) to the cluster meetings, and we wanted a report back on those cluster meetings
  • Robinson: “I can’t give you such a report because she doesn’t report to me” / “I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a report back from the provost on every report that she’s had on every matter, nor do I think it would be helpful to keep a running tally on every issue that’s been raised. That’s why i think it makes more sense for a task force to be constituted. You’re free to have that expectation, Mr. Kagan, but I won’t be able to fulfill it.”
  • Marc characterizes his expectation as “due diligence”
  • Robinson: ”my guess would be that you’ll be getting an update from Dean Olan from other members if you’ve elected to serve on that committee” Marc: “is this specifically to do with 5-1-1” / Robinson: “I think on matters to do with fellowships in addition to the 5-1-1 issue”
  • ”academic, non-employment matters” — I ask for clarification — Robinson refers to 11.2A of ____?___ document, which governs GAs: “
  • Robinson: “I would like to see that process take its course” / Robinson: “I would urge Mr. Kagan and others to put that item on the agenda”

Item 5 – On science fellows funding

  • Kate Burleson-Lesser, 6th year physics PhD student at City College: “something I’ve noticed is that as there are new students coming into the lab, senior students are having to train them, which is fairly labor-intensive, and we are essentially training someone who gets paid significantly more than us, and because this person is new, they also have significantly less work”  / “I think it would be a really wonderful thing to have all the science fellows paid at the same level. It’s difficult when you’re training someone who is getting paid a lot more than you for the same job” / “it’s been my experience, as with some of the science fellows i’ve spoken to, that we are asked to do [additional jobs], I know that in my case I perform a secretarial role and work on my advisor’s website. Those of us that are asked to do that are in a position where we don’t really feel that we can say no. Something else I’d like to bring up is more protections for science fellows.”
  • Zhuo Yin, physics student from China at City College: when you supposedly make more money for summer teaching jobs on top of 25k, they include the summer teaching money in the 25K, which he thinks is a violation of the PSC contract. Some of science students do one teaching job per semester, some of science students do five teaching jobs per semester. The teaching jobs eat a lot of time which are supposed to be used for research. He wants to propose that for science fellowships and also social science student, the payments are not unified by the GC because they are coming from individual campuses for science fellows.
  • Robinson: “you’ve just made the argument that the science fellowships are constructed very differently. That’s a source of frustration for you as students and I understand that.”
  • Robinson asks: “have you raised the issue at the campus?”
    • Marc clarifies: “what do you mean by the campus?” he talked to the chairman of the department at CCNY and received no response
  • Robinson: “the result of the report that I wrote [in 2014, they think], which is in the public domain, was a plan, although not specified in any detail, there was a clear wish in the report to increase stipend levels from $25000 to $30000; it didn’t specify the tiers, but [that was the intention], precisely because any reasonable person would agree that not just your time to degree but your progress is conditioned by..[something something]”
  • Anh: “we’d like you to use your position to make sure that everyone makes $30K”
  • Marc: “or perhaps we could broker a meeting with her”
  • Robinson: “the last extraordinary meeting” was, he believes showing that the Dean Olan Task Force is not only intended to support the 5-1-1 issue but also the science fellow issue. “There are at least two issues here overlapping,” said Robinson, “One is the introduction of higher stipends, and I can understand why you feel as strongly as you do, if I were in your shoes I’d feel the same way as you do, I understand that.” “The second issue, which you’ve spoken to very eloquently, is that we’re responsible for and can exercise oversight over the GC fellowships. We cannot exercise that oversight when it comes to the science center students on the 2nd thru 6th years on their fellowships. What I will do is I will write to Dean Olan and I will ask him to speak, I will confirm that this is the [purpose] of this task force, and ask him to speak to the matter to undertake some fresh thinking such that we in the Graduate Center could exercise more oversight than we currently do.” .. “I will say, by way of closing, that I’ve already raised these issues to ___?____ and she’s mindful that unevenness results in disadvantages” .. “if you read the report that I wrote, I think the final recommendation of the report is setting up of a committee which has broad representation from the campuses, … which does in fact discharge its responsibilities ensuring that the reforms that were proposed were monitored”
  • Someone: is that committee still setup?
    • Robinson: ”Yes, it meets once per term. It is a faculty and administrators committee”
    • Robinson: “I’m happy to write to Dean Olan to confirm that the problems that present themselves with regard to the science fellows will indeed be the subject of his task force. And I will encourage him, in the wake of your comments, and I value them very much, to be as creative and imaginative as he possibly can because even beyond, as it were, the difficult circumstances in which you find yourself in, even if that problem through time resolves itself, there will remain this problem of diversity of circumstances across the campuses”
    • Anh: re that committee: “we wonder if there can be a student audience to that committee”
    • Jane: “or even student representation on the committee”
    • Robinson: “I would urge you to read the report”

Item 6 – GA A and CUNY work outside that title

  • Anh: “is it within the realm of possibility that you could hold a GA and a separate adjunct lecturer title”
    • Lynette: “I hope you bring this up in the grievance”
    • Marc: “we wanted to bring this up here because in some ways we think this is different from the grievance itself.”
    • Marc: “I think the grievance is about the GAB title, and we’re inquiring about your contract on the GA title [??]”
    • Lynette: “what you’re asking is can the adjunct title be considered separate from the universe of GA work”

Item 7 – NYS legal changes

  • Marc: what kind of procedures do we need to have in place for the fall
  • Lynette: “you should ask Barbara Bowen, and your higher ups”
  • Marc: “I wanted to talk methodologically”

Item 8 – Constitution of 11.2(b) committee

  • Going to do a grievance

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