Fall 2017 Contract Fight Prep

Questions or concerns about the upcoming contract negotiations? Contact someone within your title to talk about contract issues! These folks are on active at the GC chapter, are on the union’s Bargaining Committee, and are delegates in the Delegate Assembly (which will vote on contract demands).

The following contract committees have been formed:

  • Continuing Education faculty needs
  • HEO advancement adjustments and other HEO demands
  • CLT needs, Graduate Assistant needs
  • Adjunct three-year appointments improvements
  • Adjuncts, teaching and non-teaching: salary and conditions
  • Educational Technology provisions
  • Grievance and Discipline provisions
  • Membership information reporting and protections
  • Professional School needs
  • EOCs and Hunter Campus Schools needs
  • Department Chair needs

__________________________________________________________________________________

We can start pressuring CUNY now to come to the table to negotiate this contract sooner rather than later. Six years late on the last contract was absolutely unacceptable and cannot happen again.

Governor Cuomo has yet to sign the Maintenance of Effort bill. This funds the state’s portion of CUNY and SUNY mandatory cost increases; without it colleges have to make up the loss of funding elsewhere.

Twitter is generally a public medium so it’s a good place to start pushing CUNY and the Governor.

Some Key Twitter Handles:

CUNY Central: @cunynewswire Chancellor Milliken: @jbmilliken Governor Cuomo: @NYGovCuomo PSC: @PSC_CUNY Chapter: @psccunygc

Potential Contract Tweet Examples:

  • Hey @jbmilliken, the @PSC_CUNY contract expires this semester. Don’t make us wait 6yrs for a contract this time! #CUNY
  • Classes at @cunynewswire mostly taught by exploited adjuncts. End poverty wages & support $7k per course in the next #CUNY contract!
  • @cunynewswire/@jbmilliken shouldn’t expect @PSC_CUNY to wait another 6yrs for a contract. Shameful treatment of faculty & staff. #CUNY
  • #CUNY calls itself the “American Dream Machine” but for adjuncts it’s a nightmare. @jbmilliken, we need $7k in this @PSC_CUNY contract!

Potential MOE Tweet Examples:

Bottom line: Be creative! Let CUNY know inaction on negotiations will not be tolerated, and make sure to use their accounts and the #CUNY hashtag so that your voice is amplified. (Plus then we’re using management’s own marketing tools in service of labor.) Tell personal stories if they fit. And thanks for helping share the petition to get Cuomo to sign the MOE!

__________________________________________________________________________________

Finally, we also want to make sure we’re talking to our PSC colleagues about the contract fight. Please commit to speaking with at least two colleagues between now and the next chapter meeting about the struggle to come. To win the best contract we need every member to be active in the fight!

Our Union, Our Contract: Results

From August 24 to September 1, over 600 Graduate Center PhD students voted to decide which issues to prioritize in the upcoming PSC-CUNY contract negotiations. Below are the results, followed by a description of the process.

Total Ballots Cast: 613 (approximately 200 online, 400 in person)

 Write-in Issues

  • The most popular write-in issue was: Extend health insurance to all PhD students, whether or not they have GA appointments (4 submissions).
  • Other issues included: Relax the 9/6 rule for adjuncts; Additional pay for class overtallies; Reduce student fees; Expand childcare; Improve health and vision plans for GAs and adjuncts; Reduce racial disparities at all faculty levels; Better enforce GA workload limits; Racism toward students on the part of faculty; Raise adjunct pay to $10,000 per course; Create paid office hour for teaching fellows who also teach as adjuncts; Create centralized CUNY adjunct job listings.

Voter Breakdown

  • 72.5% were Graduate Assistants
  • 27.5% were PhD students without GA appointments
  • In terms of ballots cast, the top departments were:
    • Sociology (55)
    • Political Science (41)
    • Psychology (38)
    • Anthropology (37)
    • English (35)
    • Art History (31)
    • History (29)
    • Comp Lit, Music (28)
    • Biology (27)
    • Urban Ed, Physics (23)

About the Process

The Professional Staff Congress (PSC) is the labor union representing some 27,000 CUNY faculty, staff, and graduate student workers. The pay, benefits, and work conditions of most PhD students are determined by a contract that the PSC negotiates with the CUNY administration, New York City, and New York State. The contract expires this November and will be renegotiated in the coming months.

To identify issue priorities for the upcoming contract, the PSC established advisory committees for various positions in the union, including full-time faculty, Higher Education Offices (HEOs), adjuncts, and Graduate Assistants. Volunteers who joined the Graduate Assistant contract advisory committee decided that all PhD students should have a say in identifying which issues to prioritize. Looking to democratic processes such as participatory budgeting, the advisory committee developed a ballot of 19 issues relevant to PhD students and held a week-long vote at the start of the semester.

The results have been submitted to the PSC Bargaining Team to convey the priorities of GC PhD student workers. The Graduate Assistant advisory committee has also worked to turn the top issues into more concrete contract demands to share with the Bargaining Team.

What’s next? The Bargaining Team will review the outcomes from this GC vote, but also from the HEO, adjunct, and other advisory committees. Then it will propose an aggregate list of demands to the PSC-wide Delegate Assembly, the union’s governing body. The Delegate Assembly will discuss and determine the final list of demands at its October 19 meeting. All PSC members are welcome to attend. After that comes the bargaining between the union and the CUNY administration. We’ll need to keep up the pressure to win our demands, so please be ready! To join the contract committee at the GC, please email lukeelliottnegri@gmail.com.

Note: All PhD students enrolled at the Graduate Center were eligible to vote in this process. The Graduate Assistant contract advisory committee made this decision because GC PhD students often move between roles during their programs and nearly all are at some point affected by the PSC-CUNY contract. Please note, however, that only CUNY employees in the bargaining unit can become PSC members, and that only members can participate in formal union decisions, such as PSC elections and strike authorization votes. If you are an adjunct or Graduate Assistant but have not yet become a PSC member, be sure to sign a union card or fill out the online membership form!

Process for Submitting Resolutions from the Membership at GC Chapter Meetings (amended and approved)

1. Members wishing to submit a resolution for discussion and voting at a chapter meeting shall
notify the Graduate Center chapter’s Executive Committee (GC-EC) by email
(lukeeliottnegri@gmail.com and anh.t.tran01@gmail.com) no later than three days before the
date of the chapter meeting, and attach a draft of the resolution and the contact person for the
resolution.

2. The EC will propose the agenda at the beginning of the chapter meeting, at which point
members can move to amend the agenda, including which/how many resolutions will be
discussed. The agenda will be changed upon majority vote.

3. Any PSC member who works at a PSC-GC campus and the GC affiliated campuses,
regardless of title, may propose and vote on a resolution.

4. Due to time constraints, the EC will place no more than 2 resolutions on the upcoming
chapter meeting agenda for discussion and voting on a first-come-first-served basis, unless
there is an urgent matter that must be prioritized. If an urgent issue impacting CUNY, the city,
the state, or the country, arises fewer than seven days before the chapter meeting, and a
member wishes to submit a resolution about that issue, the GC-EC shall be flexible as
possible about adapting the meeting agenda to include the resolution.

5. The GC-EC will post the draft resolution(s) on the PSC-GC website, and resolutions will be
linked to the chapter meeting email announcements.

6. The member(s) submitting the resolution shall bring hard copies of the resolution to the
meeting for all in attendance. If member(s) do not have access to printing, please contact
someone on the EC for help.

7. Discussion and voting on the resolution(s) will ideally be facilitated by someone who can
impartially facilitate the entire process from start to finish. The facilitator will not speak for or
against the resolution.

8. Resolutions will pass upon majority vote. Vote shall be conducted within the state meeting
time.

9. 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.

10. Chapter members, chapter committees, and the chapter Executive Committee will work to
improve this process as needed.

11. Resolutions passed by members present at the chapter meeting which would affect PSC membership outside of the Graduate Center chapter will be introduced by the Graduate Center EC to the larger PSC-CUNY-wide Delegate Assembly

September 15th EC Meeting Minutes

Minutes from chapter’s Executive Committee Meeting – 9/15/17

  • Recap one-stop & GA ballot tabling – 5 min
    • Strong showing & results indicate need to prioritize GA issues like never before
    • Even new students are aware that adjunctification is a top issue
  • Other contract campaign updates & steps forward – 25 min
    • All advisory groups have condensed a set of demands → Barbara Bowen & bargaining team will review & propose final list for EC then DA to vote on
    • This bargaining process is more constrained on time than last one because last team had 2 years to refine demands
    • Per EC timeline, we’d reach out to CUNY mgmt to start negotiations exactly when contract expires
    • Reportbacks from BT? At each meeting, the BT determines what info can be reported on → will affect how much Luke can share with GA membership at monthly accountability “forums”
    • Shouldn’t PSC be thinking strategies DURING process of constituting demands rather than waiting to strategize after demands are finalized?
  • Chapter communications – 5 min
    • Need website content! Submit tabling results, events, pictures, reportbacks
    • Everyone needs to share events with ALL your PSC friends
    • Digital signage campaign to introduce delegates, “did you know” to raise profile of the PSC, success stories PLUS advertise upcoming meetings
      • EC members need to submit headshot (in front of recognizable spots around bldg) & quote to Nina
    • Remember to submit reimbursement forms!
    • Remember to send digital announcements to affiliate campuses!
    • Come up with a fancy button related to demands (one specific to GAs?)
    • Start using adjunct infographic
  • Committees update – 5 min
    • Please read the minutes from the last stewards mtg on your own time
    • Committees can ask for any money as necessary & apply for DSC funds
    • HEO steering committee has met, is tabling regularly & focusing on recommitment cards, will visit ASRC to get sign-ups
  • MOE & legislative work – 20 min
    • For discussion, please read Rosa’s proposal for campaigning around CUNY funding
    • Political context unfavorable to unions so NYS constitutional convention is dangerous at this moment
      • Delegates chosen by senate districts, which over-represents upstate & favors GOP
      • Right wing & corp interests are well prepared for convention
      • Messaging from labor has flawed framing as “this is bad for unions” rather than “bad for you specifically”
      • Cuomo won’t sign MOE → must draw attention to his continued disinvestment in CUNY & Excelsior Scholarship
      • At risk: Adirondack Reserve, pensions
      • Constitution can be amended w/o convention
    • Should be introduced at chapter meeting (what is MOE & how to get involved)
    • Look for release of MOE teaching toolkit
    • DSA hosting debate on constitutional convention
    • Big push last year for MOE that Cuomo also didn’t sign → how to make this year different? Legislative committee developing more outward-facing campaign w/ bad press on Cuomo & students; Cuomo has pretended to care about higher ed so can be attacked for hypocrisy
    • MOE passing will save CUNY money that can be rolled into contract w/ PSC
    • Call MOE by a different name (ex. Cuomo Fund CUNY)
  • Chapter meeting prep – 20 min
    • Next chapter meeting will be about strategies after BT finalizes demands
    • Barbara Bowen requested to come speak about the contract, Luke will confirm that this is still the case
  • Labor management prep – 10 min – Marc
    • Items will be presented at chapter meeting for feedback

Process for Submitting Resolutions from the Membership at GC Chapter Meetings

Edit: This is the text of the original proposal. For the amended and approved (at the September 19th chapter meeting) version you can click here.

1. Members wishing to submit a resolution for discussion and voting at a chapter meeting shall
notify the Graduate Center chapter’s Executive Committee (GC-EC) by email
(lukeeliottnegri@gmail.com and anh.t.tran01@gmail.com) no later than seven days before the
date of the chapter meeting, and attach a draft of the resolution and the contact person for the
resolution.

2. Any PSC member who works at a PSC-GC campus and the GC affiliated campuses,
regardless of title, may propose and vote on a resolution.

3. Resolutions which break city, state, and/or federal laws may be re-framed as advisory in
nature and submitted to the Delegate Assembly.

4. Due to time constraints, the EC will place no more than 2 resolutions on the upcoming
chapter meeting agenda for discussion and voting on a first-come-first-served basis, unless
there is an urgent matter that must be prioritized. If an urgent issue impacting CUNY, the city,
the state, or the country, arises fewer than seven days before the chapter meeting, and a
member wishes to submit a resolution about that issue, the GC-EC shall be flexible as
possible about adapting the meeting agenda to include the resolution.

5. The EC will propose the agenda at the beginning of the chapter meeting, at which point
members can move to amend the agenda, including which/how many resolutions will be
discussed. The agenda will be changed upon majority vote.

6. The GC-EC will post the draft resolution(s) on the PSC-GC website, and resolutions will be
linked to the chapter meeting email announcements.

7. The member(s) submitting the resolution shall bring hard copies of the resolution to the
meeting for all in attendance. If member(s) do not have access to printing, please contact
someone on the EC for help.

8. Discussion and voting on the resolution(s) will ideally be facilitated by someone who can
impartially facilitate the entire process from start to finish. The facilitator will not speak for or
against the resolution.

9. Resolutions will pass upon majority vote. Vote shall be conducted within the state meeting
time.

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.

11. Chapter members, chapter committees, and the chapter Executive Committee will work to
improve this process as needed.

September Chapter Meeting

Please RSVP to our first chapter meeting of the new school year on Tuesday, September 19th, 12:30pm in the Skylight room. You can let us know you’re attending on Facebook or by emailing Sam.

See you then!

TIAA Retirement Consultant

You can make an appointment to speak with the Graduate Center’s TIAA representative about your retirement during five on-campus visits this Fall semester. RSVP at www.TIAA.org/schedulenow

Graduate Assistant Bargaining Priorities

Our union contract expires this semester, so it’s time to weigh in on our priorities for the coming round of bargaining!

The Professional Staff Congress (PSC) is the labor union representing some 27,000 CUNY faculty, staff, and graduate student workers. The pay, benefits, and work conditions of most PhD students are determined by a contract that the PSC negotiates with the CUNY administration, New York City, and New York State.

The Graduate Assistant contract advisory committee of the PSC wants you to help set priorities for bargaining. In addition to salary increases, what do you want to see in the next contract? Better benefits? Better training and working conditions?

Take just a few minutes to vote here before September 1, to have your say in our contract fight.

If you have any questions activists will be in the GC lobby from 11am-5pm next week – stop by!

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