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Kristina Huang’s Graduate Center Commencement Address

May 30th was the Graduate Center’s Commencement. Kristina Huang spoke at the event, and this speech is posted with permission.


Congratulations to the class of 2018 and to our loved ones who gather here today to celebrate our achievements as a community. It is an honor and privilege to be here.

My fellow graduates: We learned from stellar advisors and mentors. In working with each other, we created spaces and events that sustained conversations born from our seminar discussions. Above all, our education at The Graduate Center grounded our studies in the realities and vitality of public education. We became teacher-scholars.

Because so many of us taught while we pursued our doctoral studies, our work at The Graduate Center dialogued with the education of CUNY’s undergraduate student body. I want to highlight our doctoral studies’ relationship to working-class people of color at CUNY and, more specifically, connect our work to what poet-activist-teacher June Jordan called “the symbol, and the fact, of City College.”

I am from the composite undergraduate student body that makes up CUNY. Many are from families who are relatively new to this country. Many are from families who have been here for centuries yet continue to confront inequality and forms of un-freedom in a world that privileges profit over human life. “I can’t breathe” articulates the challenges set before us. You and I are learning to raise ourselves up in these times, and the history of CUNY reminds us: There is power in people transforming themselves in the face of violence and erasure.

Let me begin with my understanding of the promise of CUNY as an organic relationship: I was a lecturer at the same time and campus where one of my sisters was an undergraduate. We were at City College, where in 1969 Black and Puerto Rican students demanded that the college be a reflection of New York City’s public schools.  My younger sister saw me try to balance teaching with my doctoral studies. I saw her square work with school. Some of her friends were students in my classroom. At the same time, we read The Black Jacobins and heard from our peers about Palestinian struggles. Later on, I taught at Queens College, where my other younger sister attended as an undergraduate.

I am the first in my family to acquire a B.A. but I am hardly the first to struggle with the language and habits of an unfamiliar place. My mother immigrated, for instance, when she was eighteen and made Manhattan’s Chinatown her first home in the US. At eighteen I attended CUNY’S Hunter College, which was originally a women’s college for training teachers. I was naïve then to think that I was the first in my family to pursue a B.A.; I learned that one of my uncles briefly attended City College in the 80s. I didn’t know then that members of my family had been or would become students on the sister campuses of CUNY. Through my family and time teaching at City College, I learned that CUNY’s foundational promise to be free was not just a matter of money but also a commitment to communal wealth. To be free, to be liberated, stems from mutual recognition of our differences as we independently struggle to lift ourselves from the conditions that bind us[dropbox.com].

My fellow graduates: We benefited from and contributed to CUNY’s promise and power. Our Ph.D.s are part of this institution that spans five city boroughs, which are also homes to various communities who raise themselves on their own terms. Their lives are linked with our academic milestones. This is remarkable, and we must remain committed to that organic relationship. Through our teaching and learning with this city’s communities, we have dialogued with the hopes and desires of the people whom CUNY serves. This is our fortune and our reason to celebrate tonight and every day.

Rather than rehearse the familiar stories associated with the state of public higher education — all of which reflect the domestic and global wars waged against people and the environment we live in — I’ll conclude with an image that symbolizes the power in people behind CUNY.

The image: a red door, painted on it a black fist gripping a pencil. Many times I passed this door in the North Academic building at City College, usually running from my own coursework, or eagerly walking to meet my sister for a coffee break. The door was the entrance[leftvoice.org] to the Morales/ Shakur Student and Community Center. Named after two revolutionaries—the former fought for Puerto Rican independence, the latter fought for Black liberation—the center was created in 1989 by an occupation of students and community members fighting against tuition hikes. The space became a center for organizing, “know-your-rights” training, student advising, and it provided food and babysitting services to the communities surrounding the campus[nytimes.com]. That space was removed and replaced in 2013 with a Careers Center.[ccnycampus.org]

Years ago, I rushed past that door. I did not recognize that the Morales/Shakur Center was built on this conviction: We are learning to raise ourselves by writing our independence and future. But I am realizing that this image of the door has lodged itself in me. I share this image with you today because the ability to make a living, to have access to care, and to enjoy the right to well-being are indeed under attack. For many, our current political moment is a rude awakening; for many, these struggles have been long-standing.

When I taught a class at the College of Staten Island, only a handful of students knew that Eric Garner was murdered in their borough. Even our physical proximity to the struggles of others does not necessarily mean we will or are willing to recognize them. Unfinished, difficult work is here and ahead.

I was physically closer to the Morales/Shakur Center’s door years ago, but I am opening to this fact: that door at City College represented a defiant commitment to enacting change. To my mind the door now figures as the dream in concrete social transformation. As people who serve the people, we will, I hope, raise ourselves with the dreams enacted at CUNY— to resist private comfort and individual profit from these dreams, and to commit ourselves to the people we’ve encountered at CUNY, students and staff. The red door with the black fist calls for action that will write our future. It calls us to dream boldly through our demands and to materialize a world where we can all breathe independently together.

Thank you, fellow graduates, and to the people behind CUNY, those who patiently, anonymously, generously worked to insist that our shared education be accessible and collective liberation be possible. Good luck to us all.

International Student Workers: Know Your Rights!

March 1st EC Meeting Minutes

Minutes from chapter’s Executive Committee Meeting – 3/1/2018

  • Debrief on other recent chapter events, leadership changes & next steps – 15 min
    • Travis: Evenings don’t work for events – gendered violence had a low turn out, similar for the chapter meeting. Lunch meetings four times the size.
      • Maya: pushback was from Grad students was that lunchtime wasn’t good
      • Sam: there were new grad student faces, but downtick in HEOs
      • Anh: expected a large turn out for gendered violence, really tiny. Atmosphere of chapter meeting was slightly odd.
      • Ruth: 90% was announcements, needed more interaction, need to keep them short
      • Sam: it seemed like a flat menu of options, maybe need to emphasize certain campaigns/issues (e.g. GA grievances)
      • Anh: Previous meetings were more structured, didn’t have an agenda with timings for this one, which  detracted from the flow of it. Will be taken into consideration.
    • Upcoming leadership changes: filled alt delegate positions, and chair is leaving (at 5th year of GC funding)
      • Luke: How to best structure upcoming shifts? Who has years of funding left?
      • Maya: Have to find people earlier on. 1st years tend to fall off in the 2nd year with the uptick in teaching responsibilities. 2nd year might be the best.
      • Anh: Should look out for people who might be potential leaders
      • Luke: Should aim to recruit your own replacement
  • Strategies for other campuses – 25 min
    • Focus on SPS
    • How do we “break in” to MacCaulay? JSchool? SPH?
      • Anh: MacCaulay – dealing with a grievance with someone who is interested in organizing, only HEOs have managed to organize (almost all HEOs on that campus).
    • Could prioritize SPH? Met a potential organizer at the chapter meeting. What do meetings there look like?
      • Sam: there is a delegate there, used to be multiple campuses (Jean, Frank). Meetings mostly full time faculty. Don’t know student make-up. Mainly adjuncts, not well organized.
    • Luke: SPS started labor management meetings there, could get one person to get it started at SPH
    • Travis: Could bring Susan to SPH to give a model for the adjuncts? Highlight what works, give tactics
    • Marc: Frank and Jean and new person should request a labor management meeting and make them the delegation, figure out their agenda
    • Luke: could do both – adjunct and full-time would be combined by doing both.
    • Sam: Accidentally cancelled full time health insurance when they merged, seem to be multiple potential issues
    • Anh: what should be the first step at SPH? Pre-labor management meeting to figure out common issues. Needs to be a bridge between adjunct and general.
      • Chloe: Time of meeting to get most of the adjuncts? Lots of them are in the field? Need a schedule of classes
      • Maya: general meeting but tailored for timing of adjuncts
      • Sam: meeting with breakouts
      • Anh: set up labor management meeting at SPH going through Frank, with week ahead of time doing a general meeting with breakouts
      • Unclear whether the part timers know the presence of the union
      • Marc: should e-mail intro Frank and Jean to the new GA interested in union
      • Luke: Frank is away this semester
      • Ruth: Shouldn’t start with a crummy labor meeting, should be worthwhile from the start, can be a turn off to new visitors
      • Sam: schedule labor management after the meeting
      • Chloe: staff are aware of things that the students are not, might not get the language of come to a labor management meeting, should think about how to advertise
      • Maya: Start basic and then do break outs, GAs and adjuncts one group and staff in another to tailor the conversation
      • Chloe: can do cross title solidarity here because there’s been organizing in each, not necessarily going to work at SPH – GAs/adjuncts might not have figured out their needs yet
      • Anh: Start with contact and go from there
    • Sam: MacCaulay GAs there, lots are fee payers
      • Chloe: Some members show up in department lists here
      • Sam: Probably don’t need a meeting here
      • Chloe: is there one location?
        • Gerry: Mainly on one campus, students aren’t usually there though, usually at satellite locations
      • Maya: difficult to find the GAs at MacCaulay
        • Chloe: Point of MacCaulay is to only offer full time faculty, not sure of how it’s structured, will discuss with MacCaulay students and GAs to figure it out
      • Sam and Andrea: There are HEOs who are part of GC chapter, but who work all around
      • Anh: HEOs already organizing fairly well at MacCaualay
    • Table SPS until Susan can be here
    • What’s the take on JSchool?
      • Sam: Only a HEO meeting there last semester, no adjunct
      • Andrea: invited everyone, one adjunct came, rest were HEOs, few months ago
      • Maya: most adjuncts work part time, so won’t come to a meeting, need to try to find them
      • Ruth: Are full timers signed up?
      • Sam: Still fee payers in the full timers
        • Andrea: Many said they were journalists and so they couldn’t join
      • Anh: So JSchool requires a walk around strategy and SPH a meeting strategy
    • Maya: In addition to other campuses, some Phd programs are at other schools (Business and Criminal Justice, John Jay), haven’t made an effort to sign up GAs
      • Gerry: Criminal Justice prob more GAs than Business
      • Sam: around 20 in Business, all fee payers, but Criminal Justice is potentially sympathetic
  • Membership work – 30 min
    • GC Total: 1688 Members.  2434 Total. 69% Membership.
      • FT Faculty: 221 Members. 289 Total. 76% Membership.
      • HEO: 322 Members. 347 Total. 93% Membership.
      • GA: 862 Members. 1221 Total. 71% Membership.
      • Adjunct: 152 Members. 367 Total. 41% Membership.  
      • NTA + Other Part time: 124 Members. 210 Total. 59% Membership.
    • Review union density by departments, titles, campuses & identify trouble areas
    • Set priorities & a plan for reaching the remaining fee payers
    • Gerry: Need to focus on adjuncts (41%), when we say adjuncts what does that mean? Grad students? Hired from other schools?
    • Sam: 360 mostly SPS but also SVH and Journalism. SPS mostly online and difficult to recruit
    • Luke: 152 members, at least 100 of fee payers are SPS online fee payers and they are just difficult to convince, and also phone numbers are often wrong/missing.
    • Gerry: Full time and GAs should then be the priority? How was the GC walkaround
      • Luke: It was great, Chloe and I found lots of people. Fee payer full time faculty in cluster of 5th floor called ITS, theoretical physicists. One signed union cards and can find others later. Lots of money spent on unmarked offices.
      • Sam: full time is very low
      • Ruth: But a lot were fake when I reached out – people who had already moved on, number might look worse than it is
      • Andrea: should do more mapping in the building, call APOs to figure out when scientists etc are around
      • Sam: Going to get data for new people and cleaned up department info by next Wednesday
      • Luke: found schedules of Math and Ed Psych full time faculty
        • Ruth: I’m happy to try them
      • Maya: Sam and I went to APOs and found GA fee payers, left cards and contact info
    • Marc: ASRC – Pam at City College has found contractual violations for post-docs in ASRC – teaching without pay/tiny pay off the books. Why is ASRC ours? Give to City College? An organizing issue: people in that building teach CCNY undergrads
      • Gerry: Because GC wants to be able to say that that new lab space is for GC PhD students
        • Marc: But PSC doesn’t have to organize how the GC does
          • Gerry: What do you say to science fellows then? They work at the ASRC
      • Ruth: This is Chase’s pet project, should look into it
        • Andrea: Wasn’t initially under the GC, then it went under GC and got new science faculty lines. There is a strong grievance councilor at CCNY
        • Ruth: Are there GAs who teach up there?
      • Maya: Difficult to access that ASRC building.
      • Sam: In our chapter because payroll changed to GC, just this semester.
      • Marc: can revisit this next month?
      • Luke: can get someone who is up there to organize
    • Anh: Beyond signing up fee payers, the walkarounds should be listening tours where we hear issues and also activate people around the building. Effective to do this in pairs. Should we make this regular? One day a week?
      • Gerry: Yes and different days
      • Luke: Agreed. And APO conversations where they wanted the contract to get moving. Should make this regular. Could leave large visualizations of percentages in the lobby and show increases to create a sense of urgency.
      • Isaac: And days without a contract count
        • Anh: use bulletin board by cafeteria
        • Andrea: Have to be careful in conversations with new members, spoke to a HEO who was very suspicious and had a bad first impression
        • Anh and Gerry and Marc: volunteer to work on Bulletin board
      • Anh: How to regularize walkarounds?
        • Gerry: HEO walkarounds can mainly be about issues at the GC
        • Travis: should be planned around events/activities that we can then suggest to them, e.g. GAs before the March 9th meeting, HEOs to understand promotion issues
        • Isaac: Yes, went around with Harry and spoke to PhD students to recruit for the March 9th meeting as well as recommitment cards, can identify potential new activists. Could channel stewards towards it.
        • Maya: can break stewards out of department mold, to focus on the larger GC picture
        • Anh: can create pairs who then go out
        • Maya: could be one hour, not always two
        • Isaac: timing? Find timings or select dates? It was nice to have a fixed lunch. Can see what works.
        • Anh: Secret Santa pairing for the walkarounds
  • Review L-M items & requests from chapter meeting – 10 min
    • Marc: governance plans for the MA programs
    • “Trespassing” issue of someone who got fired and has been escorted off campus repeatedly
    • Master’s tuition increase issue
      • Gerry: MA students are not in the chapter and way to get MA people on board – MA tuition increase has been sold as money will go back to the programs, budget increases
      • Travis: rejection of fees unanimously passed
    • GAs assigned to MacCaulay, John Jay and Business, ask about that?
      • Sam: Yes, say that we have FOILed for data, but just want list of name of grad students and their programs.
    • Luke: WAC grievance – depends on how this progresses, might/not be on agenda.
    • Marc: Uneven workloads across campuses, success with Hunter issue, not beyond that. Should this be raised? Will look if there’s a concrete thing and decide.
    • Isaac: Chapter meeting discussion of labor management meeting as part of week of action
      • Travis: no one volunteered to actually head this up
      • Isaac: invite more chapter members to labor management meeting? People liked the idea, will further plan
        • Roxanne: Qs of who is allowed to go?
        • Marc: It’s a pedestrian list of issues though, maybe too dry to begin with
        • Luke: Maybe should save this idea until the issues are more exciting
        • Sam: Better used for the WAC grievance?
        • Isaac: People were still enthused about it
        • Anh: Will raise issues on Sunday. Might happen with support.
        • Luke: Should do it for one acute well-organized issue, e.g. WAC

February 28th Chapter Meeting Notes

Notes from GC Chapter Meeting – 2/28/18

  • Announcements
    • Tati presented a brief history of International Women’s Strike & mobilized us to attend on March 8th
      • West Virginia striking teachers paving the way forward despite no-strike laws
      • One-hour work stoppage starting at 4:00 + march stopping by various key locations
    • Lynne informed us of two-tiered funding for doctoral students & mobilized us to attend meeting to organize around this on March 6th
    • Conor updated us on the adjunct & Free CUNY organizing which has involved solidarity across CUNY organizations, including the union, student’s groups, Free CUNY
      • Another issue that requires organizing is the GC’s efforts to de-democratize governance over Masters programs and raise tuition & fees for Masters students
    • Marisa updated us about being fired from CUNY TV in retaliation for her union organizing efforts there, without a disciplinary process
      • Currently, we are waiting for the PERB hearing scheduled in April
      • CUNY, HR & CUNY TV have postponed the hearing date several times
      • We should organize a street action or flyering the GC in early April
    • West Virginia teachers settled just yesterday which won them a raise as well as 3% raises for the rest of West Virginia’s public sector workers
    • Columbia Grad Workers unionized but Columbia admin (illegally) refuses to recognized their union
      • Organizing strike authorization vote to force the admin to bargain with them
    • Jane updated us on UK university defending their pension → can we do statement of solidarity?
      • Take a solidarity picture
    • Demali announced MA emergency town hall to organize against the fee increase for incoming MALS students
      • Chase has tried to drive a wedge between MA from PhD students in the past by saying the DSC only advocates for the latter
    • Marc reported back from his lobbying efforts with the PSC in Albany, where they distributed literature on $7,000/course for adjuncts & PSC members from across titles advocated for adjunct equity
  • Chapter elections for 2 vacant alt-delegate positions: Anh nominated Roxanne Shirazi & Lynne Turner; there were no other nominations via email or at the chapter meeting → members present at the chapter meeting voted unanimously in favor
  • Items for Labor Management
    • Justice for Marisa Holmes: Marisa should be able to enter GC without being escorted out for trespassing; ask President Robinson to take a stance to pressure CUNY Central to not back out of the upcoming PERB hearing
    • Governance plan for MA programs is being de-democratized
    • Check in on our FoiL request to get demographics of students who receive full funding, those who don’t, and what the outcomes are
    • Get a line-item budget for the GC
    • Uneven workloads across campuses, currently with no contractual solutions
      • Members should come to share their stories
    • MALS tuition/fee increases
  • Adjunct visibility week (March 12-16) → we need to figure out what to do at the GC!
    • Cross-campus planning going on to mobilize for BoT Public Hearing on 3/12
    • Labor management meeting will launch off March 12 → mobilize a contingent of people
      1. Get a long list of sign-ups of people to come holding signs advocating for their various issues
    • Social media blitz → get a photo booth set up for adjunct story-telling on Instagram or take a picture with a hand-written signs
      1. Maggie, Jane
    • Speak-out at GC to kick off the entire week, marching to labor management meeting
    • Undergrads are organizing around next BoT on 3/12 → should show up to help them
    • Fill out “course evaluation” for Chase → how to make this go beyond symbolic?
    • Should each day have a different theme like the #BLM week of action?  
    • Button-up for the entire week
    • Grad students teach 7,700 courses w/ enrollment of 200,000 CUNY students every year
    • Phone & email blitz to GC President & Provost focused on a different theme each day
  • We all took a solidarity picture to send to striking teachers in the UK

March 12th Labor-Management Meeting Notes

Marc’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: Luke Elliott-Negri (Chapter Chair), Marc Kagan (Delegate), William Novello (Master’s Student)

  1. Follow-up on master’s tuition increases; effects on GC budget
  • On behalf of master’s students, William Novello made a statement (see below). A number of master’s and Ph.D. students stood behind him in solidarity.
  • Chase Robinson responded: the term “Excellency Fee” was not his doing, but CUNY’s. The revised fee is different, as a result of earlier protests: no current students are affected, specific programs were allowed to opt in or out, with the additional money staying in that program. Robinson noted the continued paring of the GC’s budget. Many campuses have fees above tuition – GC is one of the last and smallest.
  • Some discussion followed on the opt in/opt out procedure. Were specific programs targeted? Robinson denied this. Might specific programs, which have to run very lean as a result of budget decisions, feel a necessity to accept the fee? Robinson suggested talking to DSC members on the Budget Committee.
  • (At this point, Novello and master’s supporters left the room.)
  1. Proposal for a Graduate Center “Lobby Day” in Albany
  • Since the general premise of the fee is that the GC is not properly funded, vigorous discussion ensued about methods to win more money in Albany: either specific earmarks for the GC or more money for CUNY as a whole, which, premised on the type of research work that the GC produces, would result in allocations for the GC. Robinson noted that in talks with legislators they are familiar with the generalized CUNY ideas (diversity, access, social mobility) but are unaware of the GC and its world-class research and faculty. Our task, then, is to get them to think of the GC more like SUNY’s “University Centers.” We suggested sending up delegations – not just Robinson, but some of our high-powered faculty, and eloquent students. Steve Breyer and Luke will be working on this with Robinson – anyone else?
  1. Governance plans for new master’s programs
  • In the past two years, six new master’s programs have been, or are being, established. Prompted by our experiences at SPS, we wanted to make sure that Governance in these programs would follow the current GC model. Robinson assured us that they were all following the protocols laid out in Section 3.1 of the GC Governance documents, which ultimately calls for a committee composed of faculty and students to design program governance. He suggested that we get in touch with the Committee on Structures. Gerry Martini and Marc will follow-up, again, along with anyone else who is interested.
  1. Marissa Holmes “trespassing” issue
  • On one or more occasions, Marissa Holmes, a DC37 member who worked at CUNY-TV (which is not part of the GC, but is housed in our building), who is contesting her firing by CUNY, has been removed from the building. Robinson’s response was that she is being treated as any other member of the general public would be treated – she can sign in and move around the building. His position was, though, that no member of the general public (as opposed to workers or students) is allowed to leaflet in the building.
  1. Information on GAs by actual department
  • Resolved and provided.
  1. Follow-up on revising admission and yearly financial aid award letters and Banner financial aid page to reflect actual allocations and work requirements
  • Anh Tran drafted the template of the “ideal” financial aid letter, which they gave to the DSC to deliver to the Provost. The Provost’s office got back saying they were taking most of our changes but not all because they want the rest of the info to be on CUNY First.

February 1st EC Meeting Minutes

Minutes from chapter’s Executive Committee Meeting – 2/1/2018

  • Discussion: “Taking Stock & Moving Forward” – 40 min – everyone
    • What have we been doing well? What haven’t we been doing that we need to start doing?
    • What are other groups doing around campus? How do we link up?
    • What are this semester’s immediate goals & strategies for the contract campaign? The budget campaign? The membership campaign?
    • Updates & reflections on working groups: HEO, stewards, GC chapter meeting planning, internal organizing?, Science Fellows
      • Science Fellows want to meet with PSC officer as next step to explain unique set of probs faced by Science Fellows & brainstorm how to deal with Research Foundation
      • HEO committee: spreading info about salary differentials, recommitments, getting info from HR about new hires, will show up at HEOs orientations
      • Decentralization of work has had positive & negative outcomes
        • Negative: lack of communication about events
      • Solidarity committee merged into wider/fluid working group around campaign to reinstate Marisa Holmes, supporting Chelsea Manning & Oscar Lopez Rivera → drew in more 1st year involvement
      • Internal organizing/membership: signed up a lot of new members in beginning of semester, but momentum has not continued throughout semester
        • How to make membership/recommitment campaign exciting?
          • Tag-teaming with 2 people
          • Not ideal to ask activists to figure out fee payer’s schedules
          • Phone-banking rather than walk-arounds
          • Competition among departments
        • Generally easier to sign up fee payers than re-commitments, but fee payers should be priority before Janus
        • “Recommitment” on part of stewards needed
          • Most difficult to get excitement around collecting cards
        • Explore floor-wide meetings rather than department meetings
        • Do we have updated fee payer list?
        • Get student lists from APOs? Do classroom visits
        • Hard to find new ppl in new depts → focus internal organizing on departments with lowest coverage
        • Keep asks small & specific
        • Map the faculty!
        • Classroom visits are best for sharing events, not necessarily getting membership sign-ups
      • Let’s regularize steward involvement in EC or at least increase communication between EC & stewards
      • Adjunct organizing has also become coalitional in nature at chapter level & has regular meetings focus on building for specific actions
        • PSC organizers have mapped out class times by using CUNY 1st → catching adjuncts after they teach is a good method
  • Updating & following up on Spring semester chapter organizing  plan – 25 min – everyone
    • Need to come up with organizing plan for ASRC
  • EC attendance spreadsheet – 5 min – Anh
  • Membership data management, communications & protecting privacy – 10 min – Marc
    • PSC uses Constant Contact to manage member data → should check to see what is in contract between PSC & Constant Contact as to what Constant Contact can do with our info → Marc will check in with Naomi Z. about this contract
    • We need to invest in integrated, streamlined database BEFORE Janus → get working group to investigate options → Marc will ask Naomi Z.
  • UPDATE EC ON EVENTS – 5 min – Gerry
  • Plans or resolutions for next DA meeting on Feb. 15 – 5 min – everyone
    • Marc’s resolution on implementing pilot adjunct seniority system → is DA the best space? Or just start organizing with buy-in from PSC Vice Presidents? Or could be a CAP project?
    • PSC has attempted seniority syst organizing in past → need to ask to Steve London

WAC Grievance

A note from the chapter officers on this important issue for Graduate Assistants:

We want to report to you about an important contractual grievance, now in the works, which may affect all Graduate Assistants. There is important information in this email, but if you’re very busy and you are currently a WAC fellow, please prioritize filling out this 3 minute survey.

Fifth-year Writing-Across-the-Curriculum (WAC) Fellows received Graduate Assistant B appointment letters last Spring for service in the 2017-2018 academic year. In the PSC-CUNY contract, the GA-B title, workload is capped at 120 teaching hours or 225 non-teaching hours for the year (225/30 weeks = 7.5 non-teaching hours per week). However, WAC Fellows generally put in 15 hours of work per week. In the Fall, the PSC Graduate Center chapter filed a grievance seeking to reduce the workload of WAC Fellows to 7.5 hours per week since that is the GA-B non-teaching workload.

The Graduate Center administration has responded with what can only be considered threats to 1st – 4th year GAs with Teaching Fellowships. The administration threatens that beginning next year, they will appoint 5th year GAs to the GA-A title (which allows an average of up to 15 hours per week of work, for roughly double the salary), yet they will reduce the stipend component of the fellowship, cancelling out the value of the higher GA-A salary. Moreover, the administration threatens to enforce a contract provision that bars GA-As from working elsewhere in the CUNY system (mainly, teaching additional classes as Adjuncts), which is in no one’s interest. We perceive these threats to be punitive, retaliatory and possibly illegal.

While we pursue contractual and legal channels (which by their nature, may yield uncertain outcomes), we also must bring pressure to bear on CUNY and the GC administration. As a first step,  if you are a current WAC fellow, please take 3 minutes to fill out this survey that will make our grievance stronger, and please don’t hesitate to reply to this email with questions or concerns! We will be in touch soon.

Announcement of Vacancy: Coordinator of Contract Enforcement

The Professional Staff Congress, AFT Local 2334, is a progressive, activist union representing 28,000 faculty and staff at The City University of New York. The PSC is seeking to hire one or more experienced individuals who will increase the union’s effectiveness in enforcing contracts and expanding the reach of academic labor unionism through working with the diverse instructional staff PSC represents. These are professional, unionized positions.

Responsibilities: With some latitude for independent decision-making under the direction of the Director of Contract Enforcement, administers the collective bargaining agreement for the CUNY instructional staff represented by PSC and is responsible for implementation of the policies and procedures of the established grievance process:

  • Investigates, prepares and presents grievances at step one and step two; negotiates settlement agreements with management representatives at CUNY;
  • Works with chapter leadership on contract enforcement and labor-management issues affecting faculty and professional staff and on implementation of strategies for enforcement of complex and cross-campus contractual issues
  • Maintains an effective system of follow up on member inquiries, workplace issues and grievances with staff and member grievance counselors, including digital reporting;
  • Oversees rank and file grievance representatives who respond to member inquiries and in building worksite participation, and educating and organizing around contractual rights and grievances and using electronic databases;
  • Assists with the implementation of grievance counselor training,
  • Researches, analyzes and prepares reports on contract enforcement issues;
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Demonstrated commitment to progressive trade unionism;
  • 5-10 years’ experience or more as a union grievance representative or union-side labor lawyer and demonstrated ability to interpret and administer collective bargaining agreements; experience in higher education and in negotiating grievance settlement agreements is a plus;
  • Demonstrated experience working with union staff and activists;
  • Demonstrated organizing experience and ability to work in a team environment;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills; experience working with databases;
  • Excellent organizational skills and ability to pay attention to details;
  • Experience communicating and working with a diverse constituency;

Education & Experience Requirements:

  • Baccalaureate; more advanced degree in labor and industrial relations or law  is a plus;
  • At least 5-10 years’ experience in higher education or public sector labor relations,
  • Knowledge of standard office computer software;
  • 3 full-time employment references.

Compensation: Competitive salary, based on experience; excellent benefit package


The Professional Staff Congress is an equal opportunity employer.

Women and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

Application deadline: March 2, 2018 or until position filled


Send cover letter and resume to:

Barbara Gabriel, Professional Staff Congress

61 Broadway, 15th floor

New York, NY 10006

Telephone: 212-354-1252  Fax: 212-302-7815  e-mail: bgabriel@pscmail.org

Support PSC Member Laurie Rubel Against Right Wing Attacks

Please sign and share the AAUP petition in support of Laurie Rubel!


The Brooklyn College PSC released the following statement:

The BC chapter of the PSC supports Laurie Rubel, Professor of Mathematics Education, who has become the latest “click bait” for the right-wing media’s outrage machine. Dr. Rubel’s recent article in the Journal of Urban Mathematics Education was caricatured and decontextualized by Campus Reform, an online “watchdog” outlet seeking to curb academic freedom. In turn, Fox News, Breitbart, and others set upon Dr. Rubel’s work with inflammatory mischaracterizations. As a result, Dr. Rubel has received dozens of hostile emails daily, including threats of physical and sexual assault, some referencing her religion and gender. Neo-Nazi websites such as Stormfront and Occidental Dissent have attacked her with virulent anti-Semitism. Dr. Rubel is a highly decorated member of the CUNY faculty: a Fulbright Fellow, a Distinguished Fellow at the Graduate Center’s Advanced Research Collaborative, a recipient of Brooklyn College’s Tow Professorship and Excellence in Teaching Award, and a National Science Foundation award. Her academic credentials are beyond reproach. But that is not the point. These outlets are not engaged in challenging the methods or findings of academic research but in manufacturing bits of pseudo-news, coordinated to maximize social media exposure, intimidate professors, and discredit departments and institutions. Such an environment is antithetical to academic research and teaching and must be condemned by the university. Any of us could find our work willfully decontextualized and caricatured to fuel the outrage machine. Yesterday’s communication to School of Education faculty from Provost Tramontano and Dean Bedford was a welcome step. But it was not sufficient. A robust affirmation of academic freedom is one that circulates to the entire College community, is publicly available, and defines a faculty member’s rights more expansively than to publish, free from threat of personal injury, within her academic field in professional venues. We urge the University leadership to issue such a public statement of support for Dr. Rubel and to establish joint faculty-administration task forces on academic freedom on the campuses. Today’s toxic political and media environment demands a constructive collaboration on this matter of shared concern.

James Davis, chapter chair

December 7th EC Meeting Minutes

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

  • Next semester membership blitz & chapter organizing plan – 30 min
    • Reflections on SPS & JSchool meetings
    • Set goals, strategies, timeline & delegate tasks
    • “A revolution in data” & data privacy → tabled for next EC
    • See end of this document for further notes on chapter organizing
  • Changes to SPS Governance Plan & our response – 20 min
    • Old SPS governance plan allows for program committees (curriculum & personnel) that never formed b/c they never had enough FT & consortial faculty to do so (adjuncts not allowed to serve) → grievance going to arbitration
    • SPS recently came up w/ new governance plan that abolishes committees & establishes governing council that makes policy for SPS → no peer evaluation for tenure & appointments, less democratic input & voting especially from the majority adjunct faculty
      • + Invalid review process
      • Benefit: HEOS will have representation on new Governing Council, which they lacked before
    • Failure of SPS to hire FTers underlies many of the dysfunctions of the governance plan
    • Past Monday & next Monday (5:30) SPS community meeting allowed/allows comments on governance plan online → SPS will go back to governance plan & resubmit with changes to SPS Deans & Directors
    • Are there contract violations in the new governance plan?
      • Contract calls for dept P&B committees
    • Next steps?
      • Will raise our objections at next SPS L-M
      • PSC commentaries need to be sent out to SPS
      • Bring up at DA tonight during President’s Report – Susan
      • Line up 1 FT, adjuncts & HEO to speak against new governance plan at Monday community mtg
        • Ask interested but remote adjuncts for statement – Susan
        • Recruit HEOs to speak – Jennifer
        • Ask a PO to come speak – Marc
  • DA prep – 10 min
    • Attendance
    • Constitutional amendment


Goals & Plans for Chapter-Building:

  • 2 chapter meetings at GC (end of Feb, end of Apr) – Chloe
    • Organizing & Building Power in the Age of Janus
      • Focused on training for organizing
    • Look into booking DSC rooms so we can bring our own food [Also, English or another dept with a large lounge will work]
  • 1 chapter meeting at SPS, SPH, JSchool, Murphy (one campus per month, Jan-Apr?)
    • For meetings of mostly HEOs, ask HEO chapter to fund food
    • What is the goal?
      • SPS (Susan & Jennifer), SPH (Frank & Sam), JSchool (Sam & Gogie): information & recruitment
      • Keep in contact w/ Murphy organizers, offer support but they will spearhead – Chloe
      • Recruit Murphy faculty/staff to sign up SPS fee payers – Susan & Jennifer
        • Phone-banking may be more effective than walk-arounds
  • Workshop: “Striking Under the Taylor Law” (beginning of May) – Travis, Sam, Aaron B.
    • Incorporate trainings (on tabling, organizing convos) into workshops?
  • Periodic tabling to build for specific events (workshops, chapter meetings, union-wide actions, etc.) – stewards bottom line
  • Membership blitz + recruiting activists (Jan 29- Feb 16)
    • Walk-throughs of low-density departments & affiliate campuses to get membership sign-ups & inoculate against Janus focused on FT faculty & HEOs – Zee & Gerry
      • HEO & FT faculty EC members
      • Tabling in lobby & cafeteria – stewards bottom line
        • GA EC members
    • Signing up all full timers, including visiting professors!
  • Public meeting on bullying/harassment prevention (early Feb) – Travis & Anh
  • Joint EC & steward meeting (schedule for Feb) – Anh
  • Departmental meeting announcements (throughout semester) – stewards bottom line
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