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.