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August 2nd EC Meeting Minutes

Minutes from chapter’s Executive Committee Meeting – 8/2/17

  • Finalize resolutions process (15 min)
    • Will be proposed to Sept chapter meeting
    • Made three revisions:
      • “Resolutions will pass upon majority vote. Vote shall be conducted within the state meeting time.”
        • Discussed whether there should be an informal quorum (official quorum is 10%, which we rarely meet). But any number seems arbitrary (50? 100?) and does not ensure that decisions made at meeting are representative of entire membership. One of the problems from the April meeting was that by the time the resolution came to a vote, most people had left. If votes must be held during the stated meeting time, we can at least ensure that most attendees are voting.
        • Because most votes will never reach official quorum, there’s point 10: “If the chapter meeting does not reach quorum, the resolution should be edited to replace all instances of “the GC chapter” with “members of the chapter assembled” at that particular meeting, and the edited resolution will still be discussed and voted upon.”
      • “Resolutions which break city, state, and/or federal laws shall be directed to the PSC Delegate Assembly instead of the Graduate Center chapter.”
      • “Chapter members, chapter committees, and the chapter Executive Committee will work to improve this process as needed.”
  • Mini training for beginning of the year department visits (15 min)
    • If you’ve signed up to take a department at the GC, contact that department’s APO by the end of this week. Ask if there is an orientation where you could present. And if the department hasn’t had any PSC contact yet, also try to schedule a general session not just for new students but for all
  • Legislative update (10 min)
    • Maintenance of Effort Bill; passed the senate and house in NYS; gives CUNY money that is owed to it (not additional funding); like a cost of living adjustment; Cuomo normally does not sign it; up in November; come up with educational material to distribute at campuses, via student associations, etc.; pickets and protests outside of Cuomo’s office; legislative committee was happy with amount of effort our campus put in last fall, good way to show our chops within the union
    • Need a one-pager for what the campaign would look like; Luke can take to chapter chair’s meeting
    • Cuomo was responsive about MTA stuff, esp via social media
    • Possibility to do good work of education around this issue; spotlight the role of Cuomo in CUNY which will be important for 7K and contract campaign; people need to know that he’s our boss
  • Contract strategy for the semester (20 min)
    • How to work with other campuses in our chapter?
    • How to work with full timers? (What about Janus?)
    • How to engage broader union strategy?
      • CUNY Rising? How do we give it life among membership on the campuses
    • Shouldn’t lead with “pay your dues!” That’s what anti-union people say unions want: your money; money isn’t here, it’s in Albany; need to implement something larger; what can we do and not do relative to the students? How do we mobilize them to influence their parents, representatives, etc. that’s where the leverage is; need to figure out what the outward facing campaign is: need a mechanism to get in touch with students, alumni, and parents
    • Met with 8th floor; pitched an idea using alumni data for political work
    • Where does civil disobedience come in?
    • How can structures that already exist for GAs be implemented for other titles? Can we make a team of reps of different titles? Stewards by title with EC members helping out?
  • Labor management strategies & dates for the semester (25 min)
    • Penny is on sabbatical next year; we need another person who will be the point person
  • Digital signage campaign proposal (5 minutes)
    • What should the exact purpose be?
      • Education – “Did you know?” series
      • Awareness about chapter – could spotlight EC reps
      • Campaign/project specific announcements: GA contract demand voting (Aug 28-Sep 4); MOE (fall)
    • Should we profile EC reps or other PSC members?
    • Should the quotes be responses to a specific prompt (if so, which one/s?) or be excerpted from our one-on-ones?
    • How can we make these as eye-catching as possible?
  • Other updates (5 min) – everyone
    • Marisa Holmes – rally next Monday, August 7. Spread the word and show up if you can.
    • CAP
    • Fall chapter meetings

July 12th EC Meeting Minutes

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

  • Beginning of year plans: one-stop, orientation, tabling (20 min.)
    • Working document linked above
  • Contract campaign plan (20 min.)
    • How to take maximum advantage, influence 61B:
    • Train stewards on survey – big task for all of September.
    • Luke on Bargaining Team – official but non-voting. How do we make that matter: accountability, reportage. Formal, systematic feedback mechanisms: what meetings are happening, what topics were discussed. What are the rules of engagement? Written reports? Reports at Chapter meetings? An office hour? A GA forum? Luke should also be representing Adjuncts, NTAs? Yes, but technically how?
    • Need to develop narratives & examples from person experiences
    • Contract demands thru chapter meetings and otherwise, to DA by end of October. Can we extend this discussion at Chapter meetings into October or does that cut too close?
    • What is the timeline, and creating our own timeline at this chapter – a group or subcommittee at the chapter both to build our own work and to influence 61 Broadway’s strategy
    • What’s up with course reduction for FTers?
    • Internet address for contract advisory groups
    • Have to figure out what is do-able, and whether to have a laundry list or a short prioritized list. Will the survey inform this decision?
  • Resolutions proposal (25 min.)
    • Working document linked above
    • We will finalize this proposal at August EC and bring to Sept chapt mtg for ratification
  • Plan chapter meetings for the year (20 min.)
    • Set dates & frequency
      • Two a semester – see below for why not more. Tuesday, Sept. 19 – 12:30; Try a 4:30 PM meeting – food is out then, give GAs things to do, meeting starts closer to 5. Wednesday, Nov. 15 – 4:30
    • Involving shop stewards
    • Beware of meeting fatigue. Don’t let it distract from organizing: workshops, department meeting – building out to more people, not just speaking to the same 30-40 people again and again.
    • Reinvigorate by voting on everything? Experiment with different processes until we find one that works? This should be a place where people weigh in and tell us what we should be doing at LM, DA, etc.
    • How do we get people to feel this matters?
    • L-M: Reportage, and getting suggestions for agendas for those meetings.
    • DA: reportage and getting suggestions on what to do there.
    • Collective bargaining suggestions can be voted on.
    • How to deal with far-flung campuses? Schedule meetings there too – once a semester at each campus?  
  • Misc items (5 min)
    • DSA interested in solidarity work w/ us; turnout at B&H pickets
    • Been in some talks with UAW folks organizing at the New School, and they are eager to support our union struggle.
    • CAP mtg monthly picketing — does this mean we will organize something for August?
    • how would folks feel about the Free CUNY campaign folks organizing a Free CUNY petition event outside CUNY Central?

End-of-Year Reflections

Dear colleagues—

As we wrap up the semester, I just wanted to remind us all of the incredible work we have done in this last year to build the power of our union. Activists in our chapter signed up hundreds of new members, secured more money and additional health benefits for Graduate Assistants, helped to vamp up adjunct organizing city-wide, organized numerous social solidarity events, and much more! For a fuller list of what we have accomplished together, see below.

With our contract expiring in the Fall and an impending union-busting ruling from the Supreme Court, we must continue this momentum over the summer. Join the team that will be leading the contract campaign fight, and check our calendar regularly for updated events. See you out there!

Onward,

Anh Tran, on behalf of the PSC-GC Executive Committee

______________________________

  • We organized a series of workshops on contingent labor with a guest speaker from the California Faculty Association, a union which has achieved pay parity and job security for adjuncts.
  • Our committees—Grievance, Internal Organizing, Solidarity, HEO Steering —have increased member participation in the work of the chapter, and signed up over a dozen new departmental stewards so that the union would have a presence and mobilizational force in every department.
  • We compelled Graduate Center management to stop lowering stipends to offset contractual raises—this means over $1,000 more per year in every Graduate Assistant-B’s pocket.
  • We won back-pay and signing bonuses for Graduate Assistants for the first time.
  • We signed up hundreds of new members in our chapter, and the cumulative work of the past three years nearly tripled our representation at the Delegate Assembly.
  • We led the push at the Delegate Assembly for bottom-up contract negotiations and a PSC-wide Contract/Budget strategy meeting.
  • We helped to  organize and expand the Committee of Adjuncts and Part-Timers, an organizing tool for part-timers throughout the CUNY system.
  • We ended the one year “wait period” for health insurance when Graduate Assistants transfer from the dissertation deposit phase to Adjuncting.
  • We expanded access to the Professional Development Fund for more Graduate Assistants.
  • We organized a petition drive at the School of Professional to pressure the administration to ensure safe drinking water in the building.
  • We organized picketing with Verizon workers for the duration of their strike, demonstrating our commitment to union issues beyond CUNY.
  • We organized a speakout and protest in front of the steps of the Graduate Center when a GC student and chapter member, Saira Rafiee, was denied entry into the U.S. due to Trump’s Muslim travel ban.
  • We organized a speakout on International Women’s Day.
  • We led a contingent of GC students to the May Day marches.
  • We organized a film screening and day of solidarity with the release of two political prisoners: Chelsea Manning and Oscar Lopez Rivera.
  • Through labor management meetings, we pressured GC management into giving our union chapter an office space, to follow up on 1,000 undelivered bonus checks, and to to speed up IRB procedures.

May 24th Chapter Meeting Minutes

Minutes from GC Chapter Meeting – 5/24/17

Welcome – Anh

  • Goal of meeting is to create an action team-Contract Campaign Committee/Action Team- that can put into action plans of this meeting

Political Context for Contract Campaign – Penny, Andrea

  • Our contract expires in November
  • Bad pattern has been set by state unions: 2-2-2 pattern
  • We will almost certainly be facing a 20% cut in our operating budget because of Janus
  • Resistance to Cuomo has fallen because he is positioned as progressive in public eye as compared to Trump and with free tuition
  • Big campaign against Constitutional Convention by many unions and allies. NY Labor Movement is incredibly concerned about this. Pushing people to vote against Constitutional Convention because afraid right-wing interests will oppose workers interests, the homeless, school children.
  • More people are agitated and political engaged in decades. People are angry.
  • Studies about what CUNY does for people of NY. Helps us make a case.
  • Resisting Trump means supporting public sector and supporting public unions.
  • The fight for $15 and fights for inequality means our fight for $7K for adjuncts and movement of salary scales for people at the bottom. Our arguments are going with that.
  • We have over 1 million CUNY alum as untapped resource.
  • Public campaign for support of CUNY is possible.
  • With the contract campaign, we are going to be listening and talking about recommitment campaign. Means we will have a more mobilized membership to fight for campaign.
  • HEOs met last week (about 30 present) to talk about contract last week
  • We will be hearing issues, strategies, plans to report to bargaining team
  • Fill out survey

Open Discussion on Contract Campaign – everyone

  • Why is PEF 222 bad? Because it’s below inflation raises and not enough! We need flexibility to use our pot of money for our specific needs this is a disappointing public sector union pattern
    • Need more money for salaries, parental leave, higher wages for people at lowest salaries. Much more constrained in creativity when don’t have money.
    • Extra money will come from budget campaign because hard to break a pattern
    • If we have a contract campaign tied to a public campaign and CUNY as engine for mobility then Governor may do it.
  • Reach out to CUNY alumni to swing public opinion in our favor
    • CUNY does not keep good records of its alumni! PSC should directly appeal to alumni part of a public-facing contract campaign
    • People in this city care about CUNY and we need to take advantage of this!
  • Should we maximize the discontent around Excelsior Scholarship?
    • We need to educate ourselves on Excelsior Scholarship, its limitations & possibilities
    • Anne from Financial Aid can get us detailed info
    • Excelsior not free tution, undergrad only, must be 30 credits, cannot drop credits. Most students do not take 30 credits every academic year. Designed for only a certain type of student. When graduate have to stay in NY State- must find a job and must file tax return. If you get admitted for a grad program out of state, you can’t go. And it turns into a loan. Financial Aid people don’t like this. Maximum it pays is $5500. Only pays left over of tuition not met and none of it goes in hand of student.
    • Do we tap into people who become disillusioned? By mid-semester people will realize that this is a big lie
  • PSC Member Survey missing “option” for engaging PSC leadership with our demands & our ideas + missing option for open bargaining
    • PSC Member Survey results should be made public
      • Rank-and-file members should control the narrative
      • Every member should have access to survey to make own cross-tabs.
  • Need to find out what unifies all the titles in the union, what one another’s issues are
    • Need to familiarize ourselves with each other’s issues and advocate for one another
    • When we engage in conversations, how do we approach full-time, part-time, HEO, CLT, how do we open up ways of talking to each other and what unifies us in terms of the contract? HEO may not know what adjunct needs. How open it up?
  • PSC Executive Council’s timeline calls for EC creating demands committee rather than consulting with existing committees how do we create a more horizontal flow of information & ideas
    • Timeline will be shorter. Subcommittees are way of functioning- adjunct subcommittee or GA subcommittee (2-3 people). Advisory committees are not on Bargaining Team.
  • When EC appoints bargaining team, will the Bargaining Team include people often excluded like Grad Assistants, CLTs, etc.? Should be crucial part of GC contract campaign.
    • We are currently campaigning the Executive Council to invite on a GA. We are mapping out EC and pushing GA on bargaining team. There has been a positive response. Andrea and Penny are on board.
  • BT needs to be more responsive than in the past.
    • Mandate detailed reportbacks on each bargaining session
    • BT needs to be more responsive than in the past.
    • Include more adjuncts on the bargaining team- proportional representation.
    • Adjuncts need an independent voice. Full-time does not represent all.
    • Has always been a CLT on the BT in the past (this time the CLT on it retired and moved away mid-process but usually there is one).
    • In the past there have been two contracts there where were GAs on the BT.
  • Does the governor & board of trustees know and care about CUNY’s starvation for funds? Are they receptive to studies about CUNY stating its integral role in socioeconomic mobility? What do we do when they say there is no money?
    • We need a robust contract campaign connected to public campaign for CUNY funding & budget campaign learn from Chicago Teacher’s Union with their creative campaign linking these different issues
    • Think ahead to next year’s NYC & NYS budget/election cycle to develop our strategies The current ones are not including more money to increase adjunct pay. Need longer view and need to get serious about contract and budget campaign. This spring, wanted to plug into an active campaign around budget and didn’t happen from union. Opportunity not being given by union. Adjuncts weren’t able to testify because not union priority. Broad campaign around more funding for CUNY.
  • Last round of bargaining had long time. Listened on every campus. We have a complicated bargaining unit with many titles. We had long lists of demands some very detailed and some very broad. We did a lot of listening and unfortunately we didn’t win all of them. Kept records about what members said from different titles. What did we get last time? Do we need more on another title? Grad Assistants weren’t on radar last time and that should be different. The listening on every campus is happening. People are meeting and expressing concerns.
  • Possible that Janus Supreme Court decision (right-to-work for less) may come down earlier than expected
    • DC 37 negotiators, they think Janus decision will come earlier Dec or Jan and they already know that a right-wing think tank in NY has foiled their membership list and they anticipate the day after this decision that everyone in DC37 will get a letter saying you can save $500. Janus says people who are agency fee payers will not have to pay dues.
  • Need to set concrete numeric goals in regards to internal organizing for the contract campaign
  • At GC we got people out for May Day and Women’s Strike. How can we as a chapter help politicize this building more? How do we resist the normalization of Trump? this needs to be made explicit in contract campaign plans
  • Members need a stake & a voice in the process
  • What is the proposed timeline by the PSC Executive Council missing?
    • Nothing on public outreach!
    • Consider timeline as a working document. Something that we can contribute to.
  • Chapter meetings could have educational pieces that dig deeper into relevant & pertinent issues so that we are more prepared for action
  • How do we involve the maximum number of members in our public campaign
  • We will most likely lose adjuncts when we lose agency fee adjunct fight needs to be central in contract campaign
  • The Strike Authorization Vote was the most invigorating time for us learn from SAV campaign for the contract campaign: what worked, what didn’t work
  • “Practice round” for militant contract campaign actions yesterday (5/23) when Cuomo visited the Graduate Center
  • Dozen HEOs and GAs came out last minute with signs to protest Cuomo’s budget before getting thrown out
  • Seems like contract campaign only at union and not on campuses based on
  • Do we anticipate that CUNY will be working with anti-union consultants? What messages for inoculation of membership?

Events calendar – Gerry

  • Each committee should meet over summer. Anything about GC and/or labor. Graduate Center chapter of PSC. Linked to social media

Three May Events

There are three upcoming events to keep in mind (and RSVP for!):

Please RSVP to Sam for the event(s) that you are attending!

Susan Fountain wins the Georgina M. Smith Award!

A big congratulations to chapter member Susan Fountain of SPS, who just won the American Association of University Professors 2017 Georgina M. Smith Award! Susan is the first PSC member to win since 1983, when former PSC President Belle Zeller received the honor.

The award “was established in 1979 to honor the memory of an AAUP leader, Professor Georgina M. Smith (Mathematics, Rutgers), who was a committed feminist and a strong supporter of her local faculty union. The award, in the form of a certificate of recognition, will be presented at the AAUP’s Annual Conference to a person who has provided exceptional leadership in a given year in improving the status of academic women or in academic collective bargaining and through that work has improved the profession in general.”

Susan had this to say in response to winning the award: “I am honored and humbled to be chosen by AAUP as the recipient of the 2017 Georgina M. Smith Award. I am fully aware that the issues noted by AAUP in their award letter – shared governance and health and safety concerns at SPS, adjunct issues across the CUNY system – are ones that can only be addressed collectively. I am fortunate to work with colleagues at SPS and in the Graduate Center Chapter of the PSC – graduate assistants, adjuncts, full-time faculty, and HEOs – whose experience and commitment to social justice and public higher education guide and inspire me every day. I am grateful to each of them. This award will, I hope, be seen as recognition of the work we have done together – and will continue to do!”

Congrats again, Susan! Fully deserved.

 

If you’d like to read Susan’s nomination letter you can see that here.

A Big Victory for GAs

The increased presence and power of GAs within the PSC, due to two years of chapter organizing, has scored another victory.

Contractual language previously withheld the $750 ratification bonus ($500 for GA-Ds) from any worker who was on an approved leave of absence in either the Spring 2016 or Fall 2016 semester. After months of hard work by GC Chapter officers, CUNY has agreed to pay this ratification bonus to all these affected GAs upon their return to work, no later than Feb. 1, 2018.

If you were previously denied the bonus because you were on a leave of absence, please take the agreement (below) to HR and ask them to begin processing your bonus. Of course, if you have any problems, please contact a GC union officer or shop steward for assistance.

The GC Chapter Report, September 2016 – January 2017

These are bleak times, so we wanted to take a moment to report on the huge strides our chapter has made this academic year.

On top of our regular chapter-wide meetings, we had our chapter’s first ever New Member Orientation meeting this Fall, five committees have been established (anyone can join—more info here!), and between last Spring and this Fall we signed up 402 new members creating four more representatives for our chapter at the PSC Delegate Assembly (in addition to the 300+ that we signed up the year before, which created three additional positions). We also co-hosted events like the one with CFA organizer Jonathan Karpf on adjunct issues and the recent rally to support Saira Rafiee that took place outside of the GC. There is a lot still to do in the second half of the academic year, but for a fuller synopsis of chapter activities from the first half please see the report below.

 

More Money in the Pockets of Graduate Assistants

The organizational growth of the chapter has made both CUNY and the PSC leadership more responsive to the needs of GAs working for the GC.

  • Most GAs received a $750 contract ratification bonus in the fall compared with Adjuncts with a similar workload who, unfortunately, received only $250.
  • After meeting with Chase Robinson he agreed to maintain the current level of stipends when our wages go up this month and again in April. (Compare this with most 2nd-5th year Science Fellows, now paid through four-year colleges and not in our chapter, whose contractual raise may be clawed back by a reduction in other funding.)[1] He also agreed that next year’s admissions will enter at the new GCF first year rate of $26,128.

What if you think you didn’t get the right Retroactive Pay?

  • If you feel CUNY paid you the wrong amount or are just unsure, here’s a three step process:

Building a Fight for a Strong 2017 Contract in the Context of Trump

In an effort to spearhead the next contract negotiation and have greater participation in the process, the chapter has been a leader in identifying and mobilizing for a stronger and more inclusive contract fight at the GC and in the PSC as a whole.

  • Circulated a four-point contract plan at our December Chapter meeting centered around part-timer issues, support for CUNY Rising, preparation for a potential strike, and outreach to progressive labor forces. Began discussion within the chapter of wage and non-wage demands.
  • Proposed a “First Steps” resolution to the PSC with tangible steps including an immediate one-day planning “retreat,” quick constitution of an inclusive Negotiating Committee, and contract-focused meetings in all chapters. As a result of this work, the PSC Delegate Assembly adopted the heart of our proposal, and this full day planning meeting will take place in late February or early March.
  • Chapter activists are helping to create a PSC-wide survey of working conditions to better guide the formulation of demands and negotiations.
  • The Chapter formulated a change to PSC Constitution that will allow GAs and Adjuncts who change campuses to vote and run for office in their new chapter without the current waiting periods of four and twelve months respectively. This resolution was discussed at last month’s Delegate Assembly meeting. A subcommittee will work on it and then it will be up for a vote next month.

Internal Organizing and Outreach

Neither the fights described above or below are possible without building the number and training of activists and increasing the total number of GC-PSC members. The GC chapter has worked closely with HEOs in our shared goal of signing up new PSC members at the GC, regardless of title. This cooperative work has resulted in large chapter meetings, shared mobilizing efforts for last contract, committee work, membership drive and political actions.

  • An active presence at incoming orientation days meant we signed up most incoming 1st years as members.
  • The total membership increase means we have tripled the number of our representatives at the Delegate Assembly, beginning in April.
  • Public outreach through social media – the GC has a robust presence on
    Facebook:
    The Graduate Center PSC
    Twitter: @PSCCUNYGC
    Instagram:
    @PSCCUNYGC
  • We have made moderate progress on developing a departmental shop steward structure.
  • Discussions of workload issues has been ongoing at both the Departmental and GC-wide levels, with some success. We were able to establish that, in 2017-18, GAs at Hunter will only teach two sections, but were unable to get that change for the spring semester.
  • We have taken first steps to building organization at our affiliated campuses, the School of Professional Studies and the School of Public Health and held our first Labor-Management meeting at SPS.
  • We successfully changed the three-year appointment process for adjuncts at SPS and, after months of wrangling, we procured the release of a report on water safety there.
  • Discussions of what, concretely, it would mean to be a sanctuary campus are proceeding with Chase Robinson.
  • At each chapter meeting and each labor management committee meeting HEOs have given updates and made plans to implement the new provisions of the contract that are relevant to their titles.

Adjunct/External Organizing

The chapter has been active in mobilization and solidarity work with other chapters and other unions.

  • We are building strong ties to the Baruch and Brooklyn chapters and working with them to organize adjuncts there.
  • We have been active in the union’s official adjunct organization, and have put forward proposals that we believe will soon be adopted which will concretely strengthen adjunct organizing and political power within the union.
  • We held two meetings at CCNY to begin organizing the 2nd-5th year Science Fellows there in cooperation with the union chapter there.
  • We had initial discussions with Non-Teaching Adjuncts on other campuses in an attempt to better understand the issue of “Grader Pay.” A grievance about incorrect grader pay at Baruch and CCNY has been stalled by management for most of the semester.
  • Along with several other PSC chapters and the Adjunct Project, we hosted Jonathan Karpf of the CFA for a discussion on winning pay parity for adjuncts.
  • The chapter has mobilized to defend our membership from attacks by the Trump administration, including having a robust presence at the Women’s March and co-organizing a well-attended rally for PSC member Saira Rafiee.

[1] We are seeking to work with those other chapters to organize these former chapter members.

Rally for Saira

Today at 1pm there was a rally for Saira Rafiee, of the PhD program in Political Science, who was impacted by Donald Trump’s disgusting executive order regarding movement of peoples into the U.S. Bob Nelson, recently retired from the GC, was on hand and passed on this account:

I was at the rally for Saira Rafiee at the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn this afternoon.  About 100 were in attendance, mostly students, and lots of media, both local and national. The BP [Brooklyn Borough President], Eric Adams, MC’d. He read Saira’s Facebook post in its entirety, and expanded the issue to include K-12 students and parents who might now be separated. Hercules Reid of the USS gave a lovely speech, and Barbara [Bowen, PSC President] an impassioned one. Our own Matt Schoengood [Vice President of Student Affairs] read a statement from GC administration. The NYC Deputy Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs also spoke and reiterated the various ways in which the City would stand against Federal immigration activities. The press asked Adams for his opinion of the NYS Senate bill that would require colleges to compile lists of foreign students, and he shot that down with “Bad idea! We don’t make lists.”

 

Did you go to the event for today and have a report from the rally? Let us know! Also, please be on the lookout for more events in support of Saira in the coming days.

January 30th Chapter Meeting

GC CHAPT MEETING 130

See you on the 30th!

Check out our calendar or Facebook events.

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