Thursday, October 23, 2014

PSC Address to Stated Meeting of the Faculty October 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.

Open Letter to President Gould Regarding Contract Negotiations

Dear President Gould:

We write to ask for your help – your vigorous advocacy in support of the Brooklyn College community.

As of Monday, October 20, CUNY faculty and professional staff have been without a new contract for four years. Our work at the University shows our commitment to quality public education: in fact, it is our academic work that makes the University run. We deserve fair remuneration for the jobs we do; we have been denied that for four long years.

Enrollment at CUNY is at an all-time high, yet we, who are daily in the classroom, are expected to work without reasonable raises and just benefits. Faculty and staff wellbeing is put at risk as we have faced the rising cost of living. We are full-time faculty, CLTs and HEOs struggling to pay rent; we are adjuncts forced to work at multiple institutions just to buy groceries. Our diminished living conditions have a direct impact on our students’ learning conditions.

Exhausted, anxious faculty and staff cannot give 100% to their students when their minds are on their own survival.  This problem has been exacerbated by the fact that CUNY is having a difficult time hiring new faculty and retaining recent hires, putting more pressure on the limited and overworked resources we already have.  Not only has the lack of a contract affected the hiring and retention of faculty, it has also been a blow to the morale of current faculty. The lack of a contract is, therefore, endangering the growth of CUNY, the University’s future aspirations, and the quality of CUNY public higher education. It is both irrational and unconscionable that we still do not have a contract. 

The PSC is eager to settle the contract and has been negotiating with CUNY in good faith. But CUNY has still not presented us with an economic offer, which is the essential foundation for any detailed bargaining.  Without an economic offer, we cannot begin to bargain about salary increases, much less retroactive pay. Nor can we truly address the Chancellor’s stated goal of lowering the CUNY teaching load. CUNY trustees and administrators must make it their first priority to get an economic offer on the table so that bargaining in earnest can begin.

President Gould, we call on you to do what you can to impress upon the Chancellor and Trustees that we need an economic offer now. We ask that you speak up for the faculty, professional staff, and the students we serve at Brooklyn College by urging the Chancellery to immediately make an offer and thus open serious contract negotiations. We urge you to publicly advocate for justice for the Brooklyn College community, for CUNY faculty and staff, and for public higher education.


Executive Committee

Brooklyn College Chapter, PSC CUNY