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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!
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.
Minutes from GC Chapter Meeting 5/24
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.
- PSC Member Survey results should be made public
- 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
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.
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.
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.) 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
- 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.
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.
 We are seeking to work with those other chapters to organize these former chapter members.
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.
Colin P. Ashley is a Graduate Center student in Sociology. Below is his statement in response to the brutal attack this past weekend on Colin and a group of other activists by pro-Trump goons. It is republished with Colin’s permission.
I am in good spirits. I am not detoured. I am Black, Queer and yes still fabulous! Next time I will be better equipped to whoop some fascist ass.
ON WHAT HAPPENED
Saturday was an amazing day for racial justice organizing and activism. I started the day by attending the Forward Union (FU) fair tabling for PPA. The FU event was a space that allowed artists, grassroots activists and organizers, and community organizations to meet and share what they were working on around issues of justice and equality. While there, I was invited to speak on a ‘Why we say Fuck the Police! panel’ with family from NYC Shut It Down. The panel was extremely powerful, the message well received. Despite the snow the event was well attended and quite impactful. It ended with a dance party, drag queens and a queer performance piece. I danced. I then went and joined other friends at the Decolonize This Place closing night event (many of whom were at FU and left earlier). Decolonize is a space where social justice movement folks, artists, thinkers gathered to commune, organize, celebrate, and work towards decentering whiteness. The place was packed, filled with people of color, queers, friends, family. I danced.
As the night started to wind down a large group of us stood outside chanting various movement chants—solidifying bonds and our commitment to continue forward in our fights for racial justice. A smaller group of us moved down the street heading off to grab food and continued chanting. Four men quickly approached us shouting “Trump, Trump, Trump” with one of them flashing his blue lives matter bracelet at us. We in response continued chanting, switching up our chant to the fuck trump protest song: “Ole, Ole Ole Ole…Fuck Trump, Fuck Trump.” One of the guys, RacistHomophobeDudeBroMcFuckFace pointed at me and shouted, “He’s a fucking faggot.” and I screamed back, “Yeah, I’m a fucking faggot so the fuck what!” and continued on my way crossing the street.
This moment is important…really important…because I know this guy. Guys like this have called me faggot before. Guys like this who are insanely insecure and threatened by any and all difference. He expected my shame. He expected me to be demure and weakened by his homophobic slur. His toxic masculinity is fueled by this expectation. It was a desire for power and I did not comply with this expectation. This moment is also important because it is not new. I’m a black queer man. I’ve been called faggot and been threatened before. I have known all types of violence like this. While the election of Trump may have emboldened these types they’ve always been there: threatening anything and everyone that they perceive as different. Their sense of self depends on this. I know this guy and we all must know him. Authoritarian and fascists ideas resonate with him. He knows offense and seeks power through his fists. He is probably more willing to kill for his ideas than we are.
When I turned back around, dudebro (6’2”, 220lbs) was yelling at Connor, a friend and fellow queer activist. A few folks were trying to separate them. As I approached, dudebro sucker punched Connor in the face. I stepped in to defend Connor and the brawl took off. My instinct was to grapple. This instinct failed me. I did everything in my power to bring the dude to the ground. While doing so he wailed continuously on my face. Once on the ground, he managed to get on top of me and continued wailing. I landed some body punches but couldn’t sweep him. Several friends tried to peel him off me but his friends were attacking them and preventing them from offering aide. My perspective from this point was limited. It was a perspective from the ground. They ended up taking off and I was rushed inside to get needed care. I was later told that the group of guys ran to the cops and used the cops as a shield from those of us who ran after them. I was told the cops let them go and told our people to go inside. I wish I knew more of the details around this but this does not surprise me. The police are not here to protect us. I certainly don’t remember the cops breaking anything up but again, perspective: ground
ON CIRCULATING TRAUMA
I get that these stories need to be told. Believe me I do. My face, my name, my stories have circulated rapidly through social media before, but we as organizers and activists must do better. The story that first circulated on FB and Twitter did not go through my community first. I understand that this is a communal story, but I personally felt distant from what was happening on FB and Twitter. I just felt disembodied. (Probably due to the head injury!– buh buh buh) I guess this is part and parcel to the nature of social media. But I was missing. Some of my politics were missing. So I want to share this to feel a bit more bodied. I worry that the 24 hour news cycle has taught us that we have to push out information rapidly. We don’t. We have to first center the survivors of violence, their needs, story, and politics–especially the most marginalized amongst us.
The day after the attack, I found myself constantly juggling texts, fb posts, signal threads, twitter feeds, emails, and calls. It was a lot. But I tried to dive in, frozen popsicle over my eye (I’ve since moved on to a real ice pack) and did my best. These conversations were fundamentally important. Organizers were figuring out how to respond and take action, the press (more on them later) wanted details, and most importantly my whole community wanted to make sure that I was ok. I am still slowly responding to this outpouring of love.
I did not cry after the attack. I cried because of the immense support I received. It was awe-inspiring. This is why I believe that we will win. We just need to continue to grow more organized and strategic. I have worked to cull deplorables from my social media network. Others have not. I was immediately targeted online by Pepe-meme wielding deplorables. I am not upset at anyone or asking that anything be taken down. This story should be told. These are just some ideas on how we can better protect ourselves going forward.
ON THE PRESS
The press moves fast. We must remember they want a story. In these cases the story is about the act of the harm, not necessarily the people who were harmed. Let’s slow the press down. Especially the press that is friendly to social movements. Our stories are important. Our politics are important. I point to this because the story being told over and over is too focused on Trump. Yes, since he was elected, hate crimes have gone up, but we must continue to stress that this shit is a continuation of this country’s racist, sexist, homophobic history. This shit is instilled in our very structures and institutions. A bunch of fagotts being beat up by some hateful racist homophobic pigs isn’t new. Our enemies are bigger than this group of assholes. We have to dismantle entire structures. We have to live in alternative ways. We have so much work to do.
ON NEEDING SELF DEFENSE
Yep! Check! Wish I knew some sweeps and I need to get my jab on point. But, to be clear…many of us are working tirelessly on trying to organize these classes and much much more. What we need is you. We need more people joining us, organizing with us, volunteering their skills. Many folks organizing around racial justice are exhausted and burnt out. We have already lost too many of our strongest organizers because of this. Since the election we have many new faces in our organizations. People are growing fast politically, but those of us who have been in this for a while now are still being told love and peace when we say militancy, strategy, and resistance. We are not anti-love. Love just isn’t a political strategy. These sentiments must be channeled into forms of resistance and this resistance must be both strategic and militant. We need all hands on deck.
Many people are too invested in non-profit organizations. The work that many of them do is important but their role is by nature limited. Many people still hold to a faith in the Democratic party and their elected officials. They have failed us time and time again. Malcolm X’s speech about the fox and the wolf rings loudly in this moment. Others still cling to the idea that racial capitalism can be reformed. This is the biggest lie. We must let it go.
Come. Join us in the grassroots organizations working on these very issues. We are not paid. We do this work out of love and survival. We need you. If you have ever said on social media that we need to take self defense classes and are not part of an organization or community group: join one. Help us organize these classes. If you can teach self defense: volunteer. Here are NYC groups that you can plug into:
People’s Power Assemblies (PPA)
NYC Shut It Down
PPA has just formed several borough based community defense committees… two in Brooklyn and one in queens have grown the fastest so far.
There are many ways to plug in and offer support…just jump in.
This was a hate crime…but the whole damn country is a hate crime on top of a hate crime on top of a bunch of hate crimes. Assholes like the ones that attacked us need to be stopped but the whole damn country needs to be transformed. Racial capitalism must be destroyed and I am still dedicated to working toward its destruction. Again, I am not detoured. I have lost loved ones to police brutality. I have lost loved ones to homophobia and transphobia. I have seen friends attacked by the police. I have seen a friend nearly lose her arm because of the militarized police at Standing Rock. This moment isn’t about our current political reality. Our political system was designed to uphold racial capitalism and to condense power and wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people. Trump is a continuation of this, not its exception. This system is clearly collapsing under its own contradictions. We must help that collapse along while building alternative ways to exist. We must take seriously the racial justice movements that have worked towards the destruction of racism, hetero-patriarchy, and capitalism. The moment is upon us.
Black Lives Matter
Below you will find notes from our previous two chapter meetings (on October 24th and December 1st). The notes from the October meeting are specifically on the take-aways from the small group breakout session where members talked about what they hope to see in the next CUNY/PSC contract; the notes from December are a summary of meeting in its entirety, and the discussion of several documents discussed.
A big thank you to Chloe Asselin (Urban Education) for both!
Graduate Center PSC chapter member Contract Demands (October 24th meeting)
- Free tuition as part of contract
- Tuition remission for kids of PSC members
- Disclosure of administrative pay
- Cap number of online courses
- make sure professors teaching online get same pay, benefits, etc.
- Paid office hours
- Lecture salaries as comparable rate- proportional pay to time worked
- Multiyear contracts
- Fixed ratio of adjuncts to full-time faculty/cap number of adjuncts
- Flat sum raise as non-negotiable
- Graduate Assistants
- Fluid transitions between graduate assistants and adjuncts in salary steps. GA work should count as adjunct step increases starting at step 2
- Graduate students have a promotional option to get full-time jobs
- Cap on class size
- Language needed around TAships- “excessive workload” is vague
- Formalize preservation of raises for GAs so that stipends are included in bargaining
- Pedagogy skills before entering classroom
- Transparency in the reclassification process
- Equal pay for equal jobs for HEOs when new contract negotiated
- Possibility to work from home under certain circumstances such as medical ones
- Authority in shaping funding, awards, recognition, representation in different kinds of decision-making
- Replenish center lines with full-time staff
- Increase number of full-time faculty lines
- Diversity requirements
- Course credit for teaching in summer
- Fair share of external research grants
- Make refusal to fill open lines from retirement, etc. grievable
- Protect tenure
Meeting notes from December 1st
We focused on the urgency of fighting back against the attack on labor of a Trump administration. A Trump Supreme Court will most likely vote in favor of a court case similar to “Friedrichs” making the entire country “right to work.” We presented three documents we hope the EC will endorse/pass tomorrow: CUNY as a sanctuary campus, labor against Trump, and a resolution centering adjuncts. We discussed a four-point plan that includes 1. Center the PSC’s work on CUNY Rising and on broad social and economic justice issues; 2. Place part-timer demands front and center in our contract negotiations; 3. Be prepared to strike; 4. Deepen relationships with the most progressive and powerful elements of the NYC labor movement.
Action steps for PSC based on group discussions from today’s chapter meeting:
- Get a large group to go present adjunct resolution at the Delegate Assembly on December 15
- Mobilize base with TWU contract fight in January. We have time in January since CUNY is on vacation. Opportunity to get GTF’s involved
- Get members to DC for Inauguration Day protests
- Prioritizing adjuncts in contract campaign should not just be a strategic issue about next “Friedrichs”. Should happen no matter what
- Urgency of signing up adjuncts right now to build adjunct power. Need more adjunct members
- We need clearer vision and concrete steps
- Create Strike Committee now
- Leverage of public campaign.
- Part of public campaign power was SAV
- Connect civil rights with labor rights
- Public campaign about how CUNY provides for NYC. We train police, teachers, fire fighters
- Internal educational work to build participation and engagement
- Meetings between full-timers and part-timers. Meetings with students and faculty on different campuses
- Commitment to organize adjuncts on each campus and provide educational resources to build solidarity
- Use issues to do more one-on-one organizing similar to SAV. Train members to talk to other members and make connections between issues. Fight for contract is tied to broader issues around CUNY
- Because we have many new members, we need more information provided to members on CUNY Rising, on last contract- what was successful or not, and explain acronyms
- Highlight places of success for adjuncts and full-time faculty. Bring activists from locations to GC to discuss goals and how they achieved them. Adjust for CUNY and NY
- Create meaningful solidarity between different tiers of the workforce and with our students
- Stronger language in Sanctuary statement. Ban ICE, surveillance, police on CUNY campuses
- PSC commitment to action if CUNY doesn’t respect sanctuary
- CUNY Rising- build committees on each campus to have more conversations
- More about CUNY Rising and fact that it is student centered. How does union respond to student movements? How does union contribute to student movements?
- Larger labor movement in city. What are they doing and how is PSC participating?
- Use PSC meetings to make concrete demands.
- Language of 4-point plan should include race and inclusivity and include sanctuary campus language
- Academic freedom needs to be part of the discussion
- Build coalitions with K-12 teachers across states (PA and NJ)
- Reach out to alumni. Alumni support CUNY and the union.
- Have members participate as much as possible in next contract fight. Have members participate in creation and prioritization of demands