Monday, September 12, 2016
Contingent Labor in a Time of Austerity: A Discussion with California Adjunct Organizer Jonathan Karpf and PSC Adjunct Leaders
This event is open to all who are interested in fighting to improve the conditions of the most vulnerable and exploited segment of the academic labor force. It will be hosted in at the Graduate Center, room 5414 on Thursday, September 22 at 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM.
What can we learn from other academic unions about transforming the conditions of contingent workers? Following the PSC's hard-fought struggle after six years to secure a contract, the question of our next steps looms large. In this time of austerity, when academic workers face an administration and government intent on making cuts to public education, it is especially important for workers across the country and beyond to share their knowledge and experiences of both victories and setbacks.
Lecturer Jonathan Karpf of the California Faculty Association (CFA) will join graduate employee and adjunct activists from CUNY to discuss his experience organizing part-time, contingent labor and the CFA's efforts to win pay parity for adjuncts in their contract bargaining. The event is sponsored by these Professional Staff Congress/CUNY chapters: City College, College of Staten Island, Bronx Community College, LaGuardia Chapter PSC, Brooklyn College PSC, The Graduate Center PSC; plus the CUNY Adjunct Project and the PSC First Friday Committee.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
By Conor Skelding
3:21 p.m. | Oct. 15, 2015
The Brooklyn College chapter of CUNY's faculty and staff union, the Professional Staff Congress, rallied outside the college gates on Thursday afternoon for a new contract without tuition increases.
"We're hoping that they move the message in Albany closer to the governor's office so that the chancellor, the governor, and the mayor will find the political will to sit down at the bargaining table," said James Davis, an English professor at Brooklyn College for 12 years.
The PSC has been working without a contract for five years. Agreement on a new contract requires the buy-in of not just the union and university, but city and state as well.
CUNY has also raised tuition $300 per year for the past five years under a plan approved by the state Legislature in 2011. Tuition is now $6,330 per year at CUNY's senior colleges.
"The PSC is strongly against additional tuition increases because we see it, fundamentally, as a tax on working-class people," Davis said. "Raising tuition on them, while asking nothing from the taxpayers — nothing more from the taxpayers — is in effect a tax increase."
Chancellor James Milliken told the City Council in July that he expected to have to use revenue from the most-recent increase to fund a collective bargaining agreement. He also said then that he expects the university to request further tuition increases.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Brooklyn College Faculty, Staff and Students launch #RespectCUNY Postcard Drive
Thursday, October 15th
Bedford Ave. gates to Brooklyn College near Campus Road
Contact: Alex S. Vitale, 917-293-4862, firstname.lastname@example.org
A coalition of Brooklyn College faculty, students, and staff officially launched a postcard drive today calling for State elected officials to fully support Brooklyn College and CUNY without relying on additional tuition increases. Tuition has gone up every year for the last 5 years, but state funding has not kept pace with growing enrollments. This year state failed to fund $51 million in mandatory cost increases CUNY wide. This has caused significant budget shortfall at Brooklyn College, leading to larger class sizes, fewer available classes, and diminished student services. Employees at the college from maintenance workers to painters to professors have been without a contract for over 5 years and most employees have not had raises during that time. Anselma Rodriguez a Higher Education Officer (“HEO”) said that “every year expenses in New York are going up, especially for housing, but our pay has stagnated. It’s time the state made resources available to CUNY to pay for decent raises.”
The decline in public support is a national problem, so the Ethyl Wolfe institute for the Humanities is hosting a day-long event today entitled “Austerity and Its Discontents: The Fight to Reclaim Public Higher Education.” Speakers from across the country will be discussing the reasons for the cut backs and strategies for reversing this troubling trend. Speakers attending the press conference include Rudy Fichtenbaum, President of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and Eleni Schirmer and Michael Billeaux from the University of Wisconsin.
The postcard being launched today is being distributed to thousands of students, employees, alumni, and community supporters. It calls on local elected officials to “work in Albany for full funding for CUNY, including its employee contracts, and to increase financial aid without burdening students with higher tuition.” A printed version of the card is addressed to local Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, and an on-line version is addressed to both her and State Senator Kevin Parker. The online version can be found at here.
The postcard also uses the hashtag #RespectCUNY, which is linked to a Twitter campaign to raise awareness about the need for better funding for CUNY. We are using the Twitter handle @psccunybc.
During the event students and faculty will be circulating postcards for students to sign during the lunch break between classes.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Alex S. Vitale
April 30, 2015
I want to thank you all for wearing your union t shorts today. And I apologize if you were not able to get one. Over the next few weeks I hope you will wear them in class and initiate conversations with students about the need for a fully funded contract. There will be a CUNY wide t-shirt day on Tuesday, May12th, but there is no need to wait until then. It is important that we begin explaining to students that failure to provide adequate salaries and decent working conditions for faculty and professional staff undermines their education. Our students deserve the best and the cutting of our salaries relative to inflation undermines hiring and moral. We deserve more and our students deserve more.
So far CUNY has been unable to put forward a financial offer, lacking authorization from Gov. Cuomo in particular. The Gov. has indicated that any raises that do end up being authorized are likely to come out of CUNY operating budgets, which would be a major problem. The PSC has been working hard in Albany to get the legislature to put aside money to pay for raises, but more work needs to be done. CUNY, for the first time, seems to be on the same page with us on this.
Unfortunately, CUNY has not been able to produce results. Further, CUNY has been slow to act on a number of non-economic issues such as intellectual property rights for faculty developing on line materials, promotional opportunities for HEO’s, and enhanced job security for adjuncts, as well as lower cost items like annual leave for librarians.
As a result, we are asking you to do two additional things. First, we need to strengthen our political operation in Albany. Members of the chapter’s Executive Committee are handing out VOTE COPE cards for you to fill out. These optional funds give us resources to lobby more effectively in Albany and at City Hall. As a public sector union we have to be active in this arena, regardless of any distaste we may have for electoral politics. Please consider pledging $5-10 a pay period and returning the forms to one of us after the meeting.
Second, at our next chapter meeting we will be discussing the possibility of extraordinary tactics in our fight to win a decent contract. We will hear from union leaders about the legal and political implications of striking and undertaking direct actions. We have invited leaders from the TWU and the national Lawyers Guild to share their expertise and experience with us. We will also explore actions we can take through faculty governance, as well as any ideas you may have about how to put pressure on CUNY, the Governor, and the State Legislature. That meeting will be Thursday, May 14th at 12:30 in 222 Whitehead.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Address to the Stated Meeting of the Faculty
October 23, 2014
Alex S. Vitale
Brooklyn College Chapter
We remain concerned about developments in the School of Business. In their drive to accreditation, the administration seems to have adopted an approach that consistently attempts to go around faculty. Unelected Department Chairs are being brought in, departments are being reconfigured with little or no faculty input, faculty are being told what and how to teach and what journals and conferences are acceptable, and the school appears to be increasingly walling itself off from the rest of the college. The administration seems to be pursuing a very narrow vision of how accreditation can be achieved that distances the school from the rest of the college, rather than embracing a broader liberal arts approach that would build on the college’s many strengths in this area in a way that would enhance the overall education our business students receive. We will be meeting with Business School faculty over the coming weeks to get a clearer picture of the situation and will continue to update you on the blog and at the Spring Stated Meeting.
Once again the faculty has rejected a call from the administration to embrace Pathways. At the October meeting of Faculty Council a motion to authorize participation in CUNY wide Pathways course review committees was defeated by a huge margin. It is clear that the faculty at BC and throughout CUNY continue to view Pathways as a failed policy. Here at BC the faculty is working hard on our own vision of General Education, which may or may not comport with Pathways. At our last meeting, this body voted almost unanimously to support that faculty driven effort and called on the President and Chancellor to support us. That support has not been forthcoming. Instead the administration continues to try to pressure faculty to accept a curriculum that we believe to be flawed --, one that is a disservice to students and a blatant attack on the central role of the faculty in developing curriculum. We expect the President to work vigorously with the new Chancellor to make sure that he and the Board of Trustees accept our General Education proposal, which we hope to see completed this spring.
As you know, contract bargaining is well underway. CUNY and the PSC continue to bargain over a variety of non-economic issues but are stymied by the lack of a reasonable financial offer from the City and the State. It is imperative that the Governor and the Mayor put real resources on the table. After 4 years without a raise, CUNY is losing out on hiring faculty and staff because of our uncompetitive salaries. One of our greatest concerns is that Gov. Cuomo may authorize some minimal salary increases and then force CUNY to pay for those increases out of existing diminished resources. This would be yet another attack on CUNY and its core mission of educating our students and a clear attempt to divide the faculty, students, staff, and administration. We call on the Governor to add new resources to CUNY, not take them away. We expect the President to convey this to the Chancellor and Board but we also need to communicate directly with the Governor and Mayor. So, today we will begin distributing postcards to be sent to them, demanding a real non-concessionary financial offer so that bargaining can be completed. Please fill them out and return them to us so that we can keep track of the total number and deliver them as a group at time that is strategically beneficial.