Home » 2018 » October

Monthly Archives: October 2018


WAC Timeline

The Provost’s Office is threatening the livelihood of WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum) fifth year Ph.D. students at the Graduate Center. As we fight for these members, a timeline of what has happened so far:

  • 2013: The Graduate Center Fellowship (GCF) replaced the Enhanced Chancellor’s Fellowship, helpfully lowering the workload in the first four years, but introducing the bizarre and counter-productive situation in which fifth year students would work as WAC Fellows for twice the number of hours as in their previous four years, despite the need to focus on dissertating during their critical last year of funding.

  • 2014: Thanks to a grassroots initiative, our union chapter reactivated and reorganized.

  • 2017: WAC Fellows approached our union, noting that the contract only allows an average of 7.5 hours/week worth of work under the Grad B title (the line of work associated with the GCF), yet WAC Fellows are required to work an average of 15 hours/week. Our union filed a grievance on their behalf, per the the proper process for resolving contractual workload issues.

  • 2017-2018: In response to the grievance, the GC administration threatened to appoint WAC fellows as Grad As, which allows for an average of 15 hours/week at a higher wage, but GC threatened to slash the stipend part of the fellowship so that in the end, the total compensation remains the same. Even worse, Grad As would be barred from working anywhere else in CUNY, meaning students could not take on additional adjunct positions to supplement their meager income, or maintain continuity on their teaching campuses. This situation would produce outsized harm for international students, whose visas only permit them to work inside CUNY. Recognizing the negative impact, our union signed a stipulation agreeing not to grieve the payments to the 2018-19 WAC cohort in exchange for maintaining them as Grad Bs, with the understanding that both parties would take the year to cooperate in politically resolving the workload question.

  • June 2018: Having unofficially threatened to change the WAC Fellows’ work title, the GC Labor Relations designee wrote a Step 1 grievance decision meant to be used as a cudgel to that effect. The decision professed that the GC could use the stipend part of the fellowship to pay for work (despite the stipend serving as a recruitment tool and never being attached to work in the previous four years of the fellowship). The designee also falsely asserted that our union wanted to change the title to GAA (when, in fact, we actually asked that the WAC workload be reduced to 7.5 hour, as mandated by the contract) and “awarded” us a “remedy” which worsens WAC work conditions.

  • Sept 2018: Without engaging in any political conversation, and contrary to the spirit of the stipulation, GC communicated to 2018-2019 WACs that they will be appointed as Grad As and forbidden from working elsewhere in the system.

  • Oct 2018: After a union-led pressure campaign, the GC management agreed to meet with union chapter leaders. Abandoning what seemed to be productive meetings, union leaders found out through word of mouth that management refused to sign a stipulation to protect next year’s WAC follows while the deeper structural question is addressed.

To date, the GC has opted for the most retaliatory path toward “compliance” with the contract, when the simpler and fairer way to comply would have been to reduce WAC Fellows’ hours to 7.5 hours/week.

Fortunately, there is a way out of this situation in the short run. The PSC has asked to extend the stipulation not to grieve the payments to the WAC cohort for another year in exchange for maintaining them as Grad Bs, with the understanding that both parties would take the year to cooperate in politically resolving the workload question.

August 20th SPS Labor-Management Notes

PSC Notes on SPS Labor Management Meeting, Aug. 20, 2018



Management: John Mogulescu, Dean;  George Otte, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs; K. Maynard, Director of Faculty and Staff Resources; Washington Hernandez, Interim Associate Dean of Administration and Finance; Tracy Meade, Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Innovation; Pat Stein, Legal Counsel and Labor Designee for SPS

PSC: Susan Fountain, Adjunct Professor, PSC Delegate; Jennifer Lee, Associate Registrar, PSC Welfare Fund representative;  Marc Kagan, Graduate Center Chapter of PSC.


  1. Union orientations for newly appointed and reappointed faculty and staff
  2. Update on water testing 119 W. 31st building
  3. Active shooter training
  4. List of adjuncts who received 3-year appointments in May 2018
  5. Update on proposed governance plan

Union orientations

PSC reminded management that in light of the changes to NYS Civil Service Law in April 2018, union orientations must be offered to all newly employed and re-employed faculty and staff. PSC is seeking access to lists of those employees, clarification on outreach to online faculty, and payment procedures.

Access to lists: Management said that CUNY Central will provide lists to the PSC. Management agreed to provide email addresses.

Orientations for online faculty: Management agreed that a special email outreach to online faculty is needed. Management also suggested creating an asynchronous online platform for orientations for online faculty. PSC stated its preference to use Zoom, so that real-time interaction can take place between the PSC and members. Orientations using Zoom will be offered at multiple times to take into account the schedules of online faculty.

Orientations for staff and face-to-face faculty: Management and PSC will work together to schedule room reservations; orientations will be offered both during day and evening times. Management will notify PSC when individual on-boardings for new staff are held.

Payment for attending orientations: Management agreed that payment for part-time faculty will require both a sign-in sheet and completion of a time sheet – management will provide time sheets, and PSC member leading orientation will sign.

Unresolved issues were:

  • Whether adjuncts paid for professional hour should use it for union orientation (PSC argues no)
  • Whether adjuncts will be paid at the full rate or the NTA rate (PSC argues for full rate)
  • What to do if the orientation pushes a non-teaching adjunct over the 225 hour cap

Union information: PSC will provide OFSR with updated information.

Update on water testing in 119 W. 31st building

PSC asked why, since water testing was done in June, there has been no notification of results. Typically results are available within a few weeks.  

Management responded that it was found that the sampling in June was not done appropriately, and needed to be repeated, causing the delay; the delay was not due to issues with the findings.

New testing was carried out on Aug. 15, 2018.  Full results will be shared with PSC. Bottled water will be provided, and water fountains will not be turned on until results have been received. Management is pushing Howard Apsan (University Director of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management) for action on the water issues at SPS.

Active shooter training

PSC reminded management of the request from faculty and staff for active shooter training that was discussed in the April 30, 2018 labor management meeting. Management said that a link to a useful video would be sent to staff on Aug. 20, and that in-person training would be rolled out after the start of the Fall semester.

PSC asked about offering this training both during the day, when staff are more likely to attend, and in the evening when adjuncts who teach face-to-face are more likely to attend. Management responded that trainings will be done in the evening if necessary. PSC reminded management that both faculty and staff have raised concerns about safety procedures for specific building locations – these are best addressed through in-person training, rather than video training.

Adjunct 3-year appointments

The PSC’s list of adjuncts who received 3-year appointments was shared with management, and there was agreement that this list is accurate.

Update on proposed governance plan

Management indicated that a revised draft of the proposed governance plan would be available early in the Fall semester.  Management has listened to the concerns of the PSC and the University Faculty Senate, and indicated that the PSC may like some of the forthcoming changes and not others. Once the revised plan is completed, it will be made available for comments by the SPS community, the PSC, and the UFS.  It is hoped that the plan will be sent to the Governing Council by the end of 2018, to the CUNY Board of Trustees in early 2019, and adopted by Spring 2019.

Other business:

  • Management pointed out that the Murphy Institute is now known as the CUNY School for Labor and Urban Studies, and is no longer a part of SPS.
  • PSC informed management that Ivana Durovic is the new grievance counselor for the Graduate Center Chapter of the PSC.

April 30th SPS Labor-Management Notes

PSC Notes on SPS Labor Management Meeting, April 30, 2018



Management: John Mogulescu, Dean;  George Otte, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs; Rachel Levine, Senior Associate Dean for Administration and Finance.

PSC: Susan Fountain, Adjunct Professor, PSC Delegate; Jennifer Lee, Associate Registrar and PSC Welfare Fund representative;  Anh Tran, Vice-Chair of the Graduate Center Chapter of the PSC and Grievance Counselor; Marc Kagan, Graduate Center Chapter of the PSC; Stephanie Luce, Professor, Murphy Institute; Nelly Benavides, Academic Operations Manager, Murphy Institute.


  1. Update on water testing 119 W. 31st building
  2. Revision of governance plan
  3. Three-year contracts for adjuncts
  4. Active shooter training
  5. Union orientations in Fall 2018

Update on water testing 119 W. 31st building

PSC requested an update on the status of the newly-installed water fountains, and plans for water testing in the building. Management responded that water testing would be carried out, but that no date had been set for testing. Bottled water will continue to be supplied until test results are satisfactory. Testing will be done by H. A. Bader Consultants, the firm that has previously tested the water.

PSC asked about what repairs have been carried out. Management was not able to supply this information, but said that “enhancements” had been done to the plumbing at the building level.

PSC asked that water would be tested in Room 123 and other rooms which have had a history problems with the water. Management gave assurance that this would be done. PSC shared with management information from the US Environmental Protection Agency, stating that there are no safe levels of lead in water.

Revision of governance plan

PSC asked for an update on the revision of the governance plan, and when the next version would be available.

Management acknowledged that it had expected controversy over this, and then recapped:

  • the Clarion article on the governance plan (Dec. 2017)
  • the Feb. 7, 2018 forum on the plan, attended by a large number of SPS faculty and staff
  • the letter to the editor of the Clarion from members of the drafting committee (March 2018).

Management further stated that the drafting committee was at work on a revised version, and that some momentum had been lost on this due to Brian Peterson and Rachel Levine leaving SPS, and the transition of the Murphy Institute to an independent school.

Management indicated that there would be some accommodations to concerns raised by the PSC, as well as things that the PSC may not like. The PSC asked what some of those changes might be, and management declined to be more specific. There will be another period of circulation of the revised plan to the SPS community for comments.

Three-year contracts for adjuncts

PSC asked how many adjuncts would be eligible for three-year contracts beginning in Fall 2018. Management was not able to provide that number, but indicated that because some programs are relatively new, it would not be a large number. Management agreed to get back to the PSC with this information. There was some lack of clarity about when letters for three-year appointments must go out. (This was later determined to be May 15.)

Active shooter training

PSC has received requests from adjuncts about the need for active shooter training at SPS, and asked management how we might get this. Management replied that videos have been used in the past, that these could be circulated again, and that they should be made available to staff as well.

PSC pointed out that videos can provide some types of information, but face-to-face training would allow faculty and staff to ask questions related to the specific locations in which they work.

Ways of addressing the need for training were brainstormed. It was agreed that:

  • Management would speak to John Flaherty about this, and look into what was offered at the Murphy Institute
  • PSC would check with the union’s Health and Safety Watchdogs about a consultant who provided training in March

Union orientations in Fall 2018

The newly passed changes to NYS Civil Service Law, requiring that all newly employed and re-employed personnel have the chance to attend a union orientation, were discussed. Management stated its willingness to fully comply with this law, and that guidance from CUNY Central should be forthcoming. Management agreed to provide rooms for orientations; how to handle orientations for adjuncts who teach online was less clear.

PSC reminded management that time must be given to full-time staff to attend these orientations during their work day, and that adjuncts should be paid for attendance. PSC also pointed out that as most adjuncts are reappointed each semester/year, they should be eligible to be paid to attend these orientations.

December 15th SPS Labor-Management Meeting Notes

PSC Notes on SPS Labor Management Meeting, Dec. 15, 2017



Management: John Mogulescu, Dean;  George Otte, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs; Rachel Levine, Senior Associate Dean for Administration and Finance.

PSC: Pete Zwiebach, PSC Legal Director;  Susan Fountain, Adjunct Professor, PSC Delegate; Jennifer Lee, Associate Registrar and PSC Welfare Fund representative;  Luke Elliott-Negri, Chair of the Graduate Center Chapter of the PSC; Anh Tran, Vice-Chair of the Graduate Center Chapter of the PSC and Grievance Counselor; Marc Kagan, Graduate Center Chapter of the PSC; Stephanie Luce, Professor, Murphy Institute.


  1. Update on draft proposed governance plan
  2. Health and safety issues
  3. PSC “office hours”
  4. Use of Room 106
  5. SPS data

Update on draft proposed governance plan

Pete Zwiebach, the PSC’s Legal Director, led this portion of the meeting with input from other PSC attendees.  Management acknowledged having received a letter from Barbara Bowen, President of the PSC, detailing the PSC’s concerns with the current draft of the proposed governance plan, and requesting a meeting with SPS management. Management agreed to meet, and Pete promised to send possible dates.

The PSC listed concerns with the draft proposed governance plan, including:

  • The timing of the new plan, given that a grievance on SPS’s failure to follow the current governance plan is headed to arbitration in Spring 2018
  • The concentration of power in the Dean’s position makes structural protections  meaningless; and, this concentration of power may become problematic in the future when this position is occupied by someone else
  • A lack of clarity as to how faculty and their roles are defined, including terms such as “consortial faculty” and “academic community leader” (the latter term does not appear in  contractual language)
  • The limitation of adjunct representation in a school where over 90% of the faculty are adjuncts; only adjuncts with 3-year contracts (a small minority) are eligible to serve on the Governing Council, and adjuncts cannot vote for their own representatives (unlike other colleges in the CUNY system)

Management responded that the timing of the draft had nothing to do with the grievance; it was driven by faculty and staff. It was drafted by a committee, and has undergone a process of discussion and review by the SPS community and the University Faculty Senate. It will be revised again, and receive another period of review.

Regarding adjunct concerns, management pointed out that there had been an adjunct on the drafting committee. PSC pointed out that this faculty member actually has a full-time appointment at another CUNY college, and therefore is not the best representative of adjuncts. PSC further requested that an adjunct be added to the drafting committee. Management said it would bring this request to the committee.  

Management stated that it is not possible to write into a document safeguards against a bad President or Dean. PSC responded that colleges should have checks and balances built into their governance plans, so that senior management cannot override policy decisions made collectively.  

PSC remarked on the idea of having only adjuncts with 3-year contracts eligible to serve on the Governing Council; it was argued at one of the town hall meetings that a 3-year contract is an indication of an adjunct’s commitment. PSC pushed back against this idea, noting that there are adjuncts who have served at SPS for over a decade, despite having no formal mechanism for input into curricular decisions, witnessing closing of courses and certificate programs without their input, living with a lack of benefits and job security, and giving many hours of unpaid time beyond their job descriptions to support their program and students. PSC noted the irony of the argument that adjuncts should not have a role in governance because they are not “committed”, while they are working under a governance plan that provides no structure for them to be engaged in the decision-making processes in their programs or in the school as a whole.

Management responded that is does not think of commitment this way, and that adjunct comments would be reflected in the next draft. Management stated that the revision process will not be rushed, but the process must end at some point, predicting that changes would be made that the PSC will like, and that there will be others that the PSC will not like. Management stated that SPS was established to be different.

Health and safety issues

PSC asked about the status of repairs, after reports of discolored water in multiple locations in the building were made on Nov. 28, 2017. Staff who were affected provided photos.

Management responded that the building management is taking this seriously. Repairs have not been started, and it “might be problems down the block”.  Any recommended remediation would have to be reviewed by CUNY Central. Management has spoken to Howard Apsan (University Director of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management), who was reported as having minimized the need for testing at this time, calling it “pointless”.  PSC pointed out that because of a previous lack of transparency on water issues, a number of staff lack confidence in Mr. Apsan’s views, do not trust the safety of the water, and have said they will not go back to drinking it, even if repairs are made.

PSC expressed appreciation for management’s quick response to this latest water issue, and said that staff noted how quickly bottled water was provided this time around. Management responded that the planned drinking fountains and piped water coolers would not be connected to the building water system until they are assured that the water is safe. If management has to permanently provide bottled water, it will do so. Management also added that they don’t manage the lease on the building, and that CUNY Central may not agree that there is a risk from the building’s water.

PSC raised concerns about the door to the offices on the 7th floor of 101 West 31st.  Staff have reported that the sensor is overly sensitive and that the door opens when someone walks by on the inside, raising security concerns. Management responded that they are working with vendor to minimize this problem. PSC asked how soon this would be done. Management responded that it will not be until the new year.  

A discussion of the use of the ticket system to report facilities issues followed.  PSC pointed out that as per management’s request at the last labor-management meeting, we direct staff to use the ticket system for complaints. However, staff report to the PSC that they get emails back saying the problem will be looked into, and then weeks go by without any results; at that point they turn to the PSC for assistance.  Management acknowledged that the ticket system isn’t always responded to promptly, but will be more attentive in the future.

PSC “office hours”

PSC would like to continue holding drop-in office hours during Spring 2018 at 119 West 31st.  Management agreed to this, and requested that PSC continue to use the online room reservation process.

Use of Room 106

PSC reported that faculty who teach face-to-face have noted that room 106, which is the designated adjunct “touch down” space, is often in use by other members of the SPS community. This can make it difficult for faculty to access computers prior to their evening classes.  PSC asked if this was a permanent or temporary arrangement. Management responded that it was most likely temporary, but would check. PSC acknowledged that there may be a need for staff to use space in 106 (for example, if office renovations are going on), but it would be helpful for adjuncts to be informed of this in advance, so that they can plan their time before class accordingly.

SPS data

PSC requested updated reports on SPS employees and their titles, in order to create up-to-date data on the number of employees in each title.  Management agreed to provide this information by the following week. (This was provided.)

Resolution on White Supremacists (approved)

Adopted 9/24/18

Whereas white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and fascists have no place in the PSC, or the labor movement more generally;

Whereas the PSC is an organization that fights for all members, regardless of race, and denounces racial chauvinism;

Be it resolved that the GC chapter calls on the PSC—through the Delegate Assembly—to amend the PSC Constitution to ban any member of a white nationalist, neo-Nazi, or fascist organization from holding office in the PSC, using similar language as our brothers and sisters of the Sioux Falls AFL-CIO.*


Note: The Delegate Assembly sent this back for a re-write of this that was more explicit in what it was calling on the PSC to do re: amendment. You can see that updated text here.


*Language from the Sioux Falls AFL-CIO:

“No individual shall be eligible to serve as an Officer, member of The Executive Board or Committee, or other governing body, or any committee of, or as a delegate from, or as a representative, agent, or employee of this body who is a member of any Fascist or White Supremacist organization. Or who consistently pursues policies and/or activites [sic] directed toward the purposes of any Fascist or otherwise White Supremacist Ideology.”


Resolution on the Democratic Selection of Officers (amended and approved)

Adopted 9/24/18

WHEREAS positions on the Graduate Center (GC) Chapter Executive Committee (EC) of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) should be democratically elected by chapter members;

WHEREAS the PSC Election Rules (VI.C.5) state that vacant offices in the chapter, other than chapter chair, delegates, and alternate delegates, are filled by an election only by the chapter EC;

BE IT RESOLVED that the GC Chapter adopt the following as a “best practice” for filling such vacancies: whenever a position in the GC EC is made vacant between elections, a special ballot election will be held through digital ballot, in which any PSC member who works at a PSC-GC campus and the GC affiliated campuses, regardless of title, can vote, and the winner of said election will then be appointed by the GC EC in an election by the EC;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this special election will take place following a 15 day nomination period and a subsequent 30 day campaigning period;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all candidates will be profiled in an official communication from the GC Chapter sent to all members via email;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the usual rules pertaining to who can run in chapter elections apply to this special election;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution applies to all vacancies in the GC EC, effective September 1, 2018.

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar