A Message from President Bowen
December 16, 2015
Today I am announcing two new steps in our campaign to reverse New York State's policy of deliberate underfunding of CUNY and our contract. Both steps expand our power, and both involve you.
Step 1 is an opportunity-offered for the first time today-to sign a public statement of commitment to vote "yes" on the upcoming strike authorization vote. Step 2 is a social media ad campaign linked to an online petition designed to show Governor Cuomo how strongly New Yorkers disapprove of his decision to deny the necessary State funding for CUNY.
Governor Cuomo has not only refused so far to allocate a single penny of State funding to cover the cost of a new contract; he has now vetoed massively supported legislation that would have protected CUNY and SUNY from having to cannibalize their own budgets just to cover future salary increases and inflation.
Making matters worse, Chancellor Milliken has failed to mount a public campaign in defense of CUNY and has instead cut college budgets, called for another tuition increase at the senior colleges and offered a substandard contract to the faculty and staff.
The only real campaign against the starvation of CUNY is coming from the PSC. While the union leadership will continue to negotiate and advocate for a fair solution, the PSC has no choice but to increase the pressure if we want anything other than endless austerity for CUNY and an unacceptable contract for ourselves. The PSC's support is growing; click here for a powerful op-ed by two CUNY professors on the need for State funding, and here for an article in yesterday's New York Times on support for our contract by Senator Bernie Sanders. (Read the letter Sanders sent to the governor).
As the pressure to restore CUNY funding grows, the PSC calls on Governor Cuomo to reverse the effect of his veto and incorporate the provisions of the MOE legislation in the State budget for next year. We also call on Cuomo to act immediately and provide the funds to support a reasonable contract offer for the PSC. It is bad policy to render the nation's largest public urban university unable to compete for top-quality faculty and staff.
To build the power we need, the union is expanding the public reach of our campaign and working in partnership with students and community allies. But our biggest power is our own organized membership. We must go deep as well as broad.
That's why I am asking you today to pledge your commitment to vote "yes" on strike authorization. Please consider the pledge carefully and add your name. Give the union the power we need. By signing, you pledge that you will vote "yes"--and indicate that you are prepared, if necessary, to join a strike or other job action. As the list of names grows, we will make the names public. The more signatures we gather, the stronger our message will be: the PSC means what we say when we refuse to accept substandard pay and conditions at CUNY.
It is perfectly legal for the union to take a strike authorization vote and for you to pledge that you will vote "yes." While the union might easily get a strong "yes" vote if we were to hold the vote today--especially in the wake of the Governor's veto--the PSC is committed to conducting the vote in a way that allows for maximum democratic participation, thoughtful decision-making, and the development of the solidarity a decision to strike would require. That process takes time. Already hundreds of member-to-member conversations about the strike authorization vote have begun. The vote will be conducted early in the spring semester, after all the colleges have resumed classes in early March.
Meanwhile, the union's social media campaign will amplify our message to the Governor. More than 550,000 Facebook-users in New York have a connection to CUNY, as do thousands more users of Twitter. We believe that these New Yorkers and many others will join us in calling on the Governor to change course on CUNY funding. Whenever a reader interacts with an ad, Governor Cuomo and his staff will be sent a message. Increase our range, send the message to your network of friends and followers! And be among the first to sign and share the petition yourself. Anyone can sign--students, workers, friends and allies.
Funding CUNY is a justice issue. We have a tough fight ahead of us, but all over the country people committed to racial and economic justice are excited to see us fighting. The two new steps announced today-a chance to pledge to vote "yes" on strike authorization and a digital ad campaign and petition-will advance that fight. Please make the decision to participate. Thank you for the extraordinary resolve you have shown this fall.