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10 Reasons to Vote No on the PSC-CUNY Contract

A faculty member at CUNY Lehman College explains why the most recent contract proposed by PSC-CUNY leadership does not satisfy even the most basic demands of CUNY’s rank and file.

Stuart Chen-Hayes

November 14, 2019
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Photo: Professional Staff Congress-CUNY

I urge all PSC-CUNY (Professional Staff Congress-City University of New York union) members to join me in a no vote. There are many reasons for sending our bargaining team back to the table:

1. PSC-CUNY leaders failed to reach our primary goal: $7K for every adjunct.

CUNY adjuncts teach 65% of all CUNY courses and most currently make about $3200 a course. This is not a living wage in NYC. While the mayor and governor found $3 billion for Amazon and $11 billion for new prisons, CUNY lobbying resulted in negligible new money.

2. PSC-CUNY leaders failed to deliver all faculty and staff full back pay.

Instead, some back pay was used to increase adjunct salaries. This move divides faculty and staff.

3. PSC-CUNY leaders gave up salary steps for adjuncts to get a small, one-time, nonliving wage increase.

Adjuncts did not ask for this and do not want to enshrine nonliving wage pay for years.

4. PSC-CUNY leaders failed to deliver raises for faculty and staff that match or beat inflation.

They accepted pattern bargaining and lost the fight on austerity budgets.

5. PSC-CUNY leaders failed to bargain for the common good, especially for CUNY’s poor and working class students of color.

They refused failed to fight for or procure Free College for all CUNY students. With most CUNY students coming from homes earning less than $30K a year in the country’s most expensive city, this is unconscionable. 50% of CUNY students are food and housing insecure, without consistent resources to eat or stable housing.

6. PSC-CUNY leaders refused to organize for strike actions.

The single most powerful tool unions have is to strike. Failing to build power for a strike, leaders  gave up the tool most likely to achieve greater gains and rally students, staff, faculty, and the community together to fight.

7. PSC-CUNY leaders fear the Taylor Law.

The Taylor Law needs to be broken and a strike action can do it.

8. PSC-CUNY leaders want the bargaining process closed.

Rank-and-file members want an open process and transparency to build greater union power that involves  rank-and-file members from the beginning. Anger grows when rank-and-file are ignored and dismissed until it is time for a vote.

9. PSC-CUNY leaders excluded rank-and file-members creatively organizing in multiple organizations.

Instead, PSC-CUNY leaders need to invite @cunystruggle, @7Korstrike, and @FREE_CUNY faculty, staff, and students to be at the center of the process—the most vulnerable have the most to lose and too many full-time faculty dominate the process when it should be the reverse at the bargaining table and beyond.

10. PSC-CUNY needs democratic, transparent practices to engage all members.

Currently, the Delegate Assembly (DA) membership does not reflect the majority of faculty—adjuncts. Union meetings and communication are relentlessly controlled by the only game in town—the New Caucus. We need a rival caucus to challenge their power and control. We need union publications that reflect all voices, not just those of the leadership who condescendingly refuse to make space for other voices in print and in union chapter/DA meetings. For now, PSC-CUNY is a one-caucus union with no room for differing views. However, as the RedforEd movement shows, leaders who refuse to listen to rank-and-file members are stunned when rank-and-file members strike truth to power.

The Bronx deserves the best and this is not it.

-Stuart Chen-Hayes, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Counseling, Leadership, Literacy and Special Education

CUNY Lehman College

Contact information:

[email protected] (work email)

@schenhayes (twitter)

work phone: 718-960-7304

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