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.
If you couldn’t attend Monday’s May Day People’s Assembly, which continued the planning for GC actions around May Day, you can see the minutes from the meeting here.
The Solidarity Committee also produced the flyers below–please share them widely to help get the word out.
More info to come as the day’s events become more concrete!
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.
Trump has been President for two months and the attacks have already begun: the Muslim Ban, the border wall, the Dakota Access Pipeline, etc. CUNY and all of public education will be under attack under Betsy DeVos. As students, adjuncts, professors, and CUNY workers we must give a unified response to these attacks–we must fight back.
Join the PSC GC Solidarity Committee on March 20 from 6:30-8:00pm in room 5414 to build for May 1st. This planning meeting will discuss departmental outreach, lessons learned from the Strike Authorization Vote, a speaker series for political education, and other ideas to prepare for the first May Day under a Trump administration. We will also discuss the possibility of department stoppages and a CUNY-wide shut down on May 1 in resistance to Trump.
See you there!
Check back for updates on future May Day Planning and day-of events and RSVP on Facebook.
Several events to be aware of:
We march for fully resourced public education, starting with early childcare and including higher education.
10:00am-12:00pm: Sign making in the GC cafeteria
12:30pm-1:30pm: Rally on the front steps of the Graduate Center (Please let us know if you would like to speak!)
We fight for an end to gender violence, especially towards working women, trans women, and women of color. Reproductive justice, labor rights, and environmental justice for all. Full social provisioning. An anti-racist, anti-imperialist, all-inclusive feminism.
3) Save the Date: Join us March 20 from 6:30pm-8:00pm at the GC to build for May 1st. This planning meeting will discuss departmental outreach, lessons learned from the Strike Authorization Vote, a speaker series for political education, and other ideas to prepare for the first May Day under a Trump administration.
Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee founded a club in his youth called “Fascism Forever.” Needless to say, we should not expect much good from Neil Gorsuch. Indeed by mid-2018, we can expect that Janus v. AFSCME will make it’s way to the Court, and the ruling will eliminate agency fees, enabling free riders—people who benefit from collective bargaining but who elect not to contribute to the union. The public sector, in the brilliant parlance of the far right, will become “right to work” (or, more honestly, “right to beg”). The question of the day is: how will the public sector survive this massive structural change? How will the PSC survive – dare we dream, even thrive – under such conditions?
The short answer is: we need every single one of the 25,000 CUNY workers – tenured faculty, adjunct faculty, professional staff, college laboratory technicians, CLIP teachers, graduate assistants – that constitute the PSC to be engaged in the contract fight of our lives in 2017. A powerful and successful contract fight will make us all – both full and part time members – want to contribute financially to the union, when the law no longer requires it. But this begs the question: how can we do better than we’ve done in the past?
Working from a document generated by rank and file PSC members, I propose that there are three core steps that we can take to make possible an inspiring and unprecedented contract campaign.
- The Future of the Tenure System and Justice for Adjuncts
Labor market trends in higher education have followed trends elsewhere – we increasingly see multi-tier systems, with some good jobs and many bad jobs. The labor force at CUNY is no different. Under-paid and under-integrated adjunct faculty teach the majority of courses at CUNY.
The decline of the CUNY tenure system will only accelerate if we fail to organize adjuncts. We need a set of demands that link the interests of tenured faculty in preserving – expanding! – the tenure system, with the interests of adjuncts, who seek better paying and more stable jobs. I propose three demands that link full and part time interests: 1. 7k/course 2. True lecturer conversion lines for all long-serving adjuncts 3. A cap on the proportion of CUNY courses taught by adjunct faculty. These demands combined would restructure the CUNY labor force to create more good jobs, stem the bleeding of tenure lines, and improve the lot of adjuncts, both long serving and new.
Finally, centering adjunct demands has another advantage – adjunct pay is so low that we can make a strong, moral, public case for additional funding from the City and State. Centering adjuncts is one key tool for breaking pattern bargaining.
- CUNY Rising +
CUNY Rising is a vital initiative – the PSC has helped to build a coalition of CUNY students, community and faith organizations, and other labor unions to fight for a free and fully funded CUNY. Our bosses are ultimately the City and the State, so only linking our fights with this kind of movement will get us a free and fully funded CUNY.
However, we need to expand CUNY Rising. The PSC has just received an influx of cash from back pay dues. We should use the bulk of this for member organizing, but we should also invest in CUNY Rising, hiring at least a full time organizer, in addition to the part-time support we get from the AFT.
But most importantly, CUNY Rising needs to have an obvious mechanism for member engagement. In our attempt to make CUNY Rising “authentic” we have severed the effort from the membership. But an engaged membership of 25,000 is far more potent than a single organizer. We need to be recruiting for CUNY Rising in our classrooms and in our neighborhoods, following the community organizing model of the Chicago Teachers Union, as they prepared for strike activity.
- Total PSC-CUNY organization.
Union power comes from one core place – its members. If we are engaged and organized around an inspirational vision of CUNY, our students and communities will support us, and our three bosses – CUNY management, the City and the State –will be afraid of us. How do we get to this point?
A brilliant Executive Committee, even an engaged Delegate Assembly is just not enough. For every 5 – 10 members, we need at least one deeply engaged member-organizer. This means that we need between 2,500 and 5,000 members who are serious organizers and strategists who take agency in this union. If that sounds like a lot, it’s only because we need a lot of power to win, to do better than we’ve done, and to survive and even thrive under a Trump administration. Every single one of us who is engaged needs to help build this structure, and we must use the bulk of the dues cash we just received from back pay to fund this effort.
We need to be able to able to mobilize ourselves – all 25,000 – both consistently and on a moment’s notice. We need to be collectively organized around a vision of a free and fully funded CUNY, constituted by a labor force with only good jobs. We need to know our targets – de Blasio and Cuomo – and we need to aim straight for them. CUNY needs an additional 3.5 billion dollars, and there’s no force other than the PSC that can get it. Let’s do it.
Luke Elliott-Negri, Chapter Chair
Non-Negotiable: Adjunct Parity in the Next PSC-CUNY Contract
A Joint Statement by the PSC GC Adjunct Committee, the Adjunct Project, and CUNY Struggle
January 30, 2017
Adjunct parity can mean either a complete end to the multi-tier system of faculty labor (such as in the case of Vancouver Community College, where all faculty do the same work, have the same working conditions, and are on the same salary schedule, pro-rated for those working less than full time) or a pro-rata salary schedule for “part-time” faculty so that their wages are in proportion to that of full-time lecturers (as in the case of the California State University). Although many of us would like to see the “Vancouver model” in place at the City University of New York, where adjuncts make roughly 29% to 38% of full-time salaries, have little to no job security, and are largely sidelined from service and research, we recognize that the U.S. labor context and the much-larger scale of CUNY complicate the achievement of that goal.
Nevertheless, as we—a group of graduate students at the Graduate Center working as both graduate assistants and adjuncts—have discussed adjunct parity over the last few months, we have come to agreement on the following bottom-line, non-negotiable demands for the upcoming round of bargaining vis-à-vis the expiration of the current PSC-CUNY contract in November 2017:
- A pro-rata salary schedule for all part-time faculty in proportion to the full-time lecturer salary schedules, with a minimum salary of $7,000 per three-credit course;
- Genuine job security in the form of a seniority system based on date of original appointment and the number of credits taught over time;
- Representation of part-time faculty and graduate employees on the bargaining committee in proportion to their numbers in the overall bargaining unit.
Although the first two demands would not end the multi-tier system of faculty labor at CUNY, they would produce substantial movement toward parity between the salary and job security of part-time and full-time faculty. The last demand, meanwhile, would produce parity in the bargaining committee, which we hope would help the overall bargaining committee hold fast to the first two demands.
Graduate Center Graduate Assistants and Adjuncts of:
the PSC GC Adjunct Committee
the Adjunct Project
Friday, February 24, 12:30-2:30pm, Room 5414; for more information email Travis.
Food and art supplies provided
To prepare for the Graduate Center community joining the March 8 International Women’s Strike/Day of Action, our GC PSC Solidarity Committee will host a dialogue and signs- / banner-making session.
- 12:30-1:30pm: Discuss short readings about how women and allies can enhance the movement against Trump with bolder actions like the March 8 International Women’s Strike, and by centering those most endangered under his regime: women of color, LGBTQ women, immigrant women, Muslim women, and working-class women. Connect this to how women are underhired, underpaid, underpromoted, and mistreated at the Graduate Center and across CUNY — especially as adjuncts — which should be a major concern for our union.
- 1:30-2:30pm: Create posters and a banner for the GC PSC contingent to use at the March 8 event
You can also find this event on Facebook.
Wednesday, March 8, 12:30-1:30pm: rally for women’s work on the GC steps
NYC gathering time / location: TBA
For more information email Travis.
After the January 21 Women’s March amassed 1.2 million people in Washington D.C. and 673 sister protests around the globe (in total almost 5 million people), organizers now call on women and allies to strike on March 8 – International Women’s Day. Dubbed “A Day Without Women,” in reference to the massive 2006 “A Day Without Immigrants” May Day marches, protests will occur across the world, including New York City.
The Graduate Center community, in coordination with the GC PSC Solidarity Committee, will honor this call by holding a rally for women’s work on the Graduate Center steps, and then joining the NYC afternoon march as a campus contingent. We welcome you all to take collective action with us on this historic date.
Did you know that if you adjunct even a single class, you are eligible to enroll in the Teacher’s Retirement System, New York City’s defined benefit pension? Read more about the benefit on the PSC website.
Applying is relatively easy. Here is the application you need to get started.
Also, once you are enrolled, please note that you are eligible for the Tax Deferred Annuity account, which offers an 8% return.
If you have any questions, please reach out to the PSC and ask for the benefits office: 212-354-1252
*Note: If you just learned about this benefit but have been an adjunct professor for years, you are allowed to “buy back” past years of service.