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Faculty and Staff Blockade Doors to CUNY Central, Demand Fair Contract to Protect Quality Education

Fifty three CUNY faculty and professional staff were arrested on Wednesday, November 4 demanding a contract that will help CUNY retain excellent professors, ensuring a quality education for the 500,000 CUNY students across the city. They blocked the doors to the midtown office building housing CUNY’s central administration and refused to move until the university management made a fair offer to resolve their long-expired union contract. 800 faculty, staff, students and supporters rallied to support them.

More than 100 LaGuardia Community College students, faculty and staff rallied on Wednesday, December 9 against tuition hikes and for long-overdue pay increases for CUNY’s faculty and staff. The bracing picket, organized by the LaGuardia chapter of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) and Local 384 of DC37 and supported by the Student Government Association, College Senate and the Japan Club, called on the governor to reject CUNY’s planned tuition hikes and invest state funding in CUNY. Tuition at LaGuardia and other CUNY community colleges has increased $1,500 over the last five years, all while the college’s 2,500 faculty and staff have been working under expired union contracts, without a raise. The event was covered by NY1, the Queens Chronicle, the Queens Ledger, the Korea Times and the Chinese language World Journal. (We’ll post links as they come online.)

Bill Would Improve Quality of Public Higher Education

The State Assembly delivered to Governor Cuomo today legislation that overwhelmingly passed the Assembly and Senate to protect educational quality at New York’s two public university systems, the City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY). Under Governor Cuomo, per-student funding for CUNY has remained essentially flat. Since 2008, it has been cut 14%.

More than 40,000 students are urging Governor Cuomo to sign the bi-partisan Maintenance of Effort bill, legislation to protect educational quality at CUNY and SUNY. Postcards signed by the students were delivered to the governor’s office on Friday, November 20 by a coalition of groups, including the PSC, CUNY University Student Senate (USS) and the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). Students and faculty leaders also held a press conference.

Sixteen chapters are scheduled for election in April 2016. Up for election are Chapter Officers, Delegates and Alternates to the PSC Delegate Assembly and PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund Advisory Council. The Term of Office is 3 Years. To vote, one must be a member of the chapter as of December 1, 2016.

1. Deadline for filling Declarations of Candidacy will be January 6, 2016.
2. Pre-printed Nominating petitions will be available upon request from the PSC office on
February 1, 2016.
3. Fully completed nominating petitions must be received at the PSC office, 61
Broadway – Ste. 1500, New York, N.Y. 10006, by 5:00 pm, March 2, 2016.
4. Ballots will be mailed to members’ home addresses on April 1, 2016.
5. Ballots will be counted April 29, 2016.

For a list of chapters up for election, more details and the official election notice, click here.

Governor Cuomo is Failing CUNY Students

CUNY Union Questions Cuomo's Progressive Credentials.” That was the PoliticoNY headline the day after nearly 1,000 faculty and staff packed the Great Hall at Cooper Union for a mass meeting Thurs., Nov. 19. At the meeting, President Bowen laid the failure to resolve the PSC-CUNY contract at Governor Cuomo’s feet, saying: “Governor Cuomo cannot call himself a progressive if he is not progressive on CUNY, if he is not willing to make a real investment in the education of the low-income working people, people of color, and immigrants whom CUNY serves… Failure to invest in CUNY faculty and staff represents a political decision not to invest in the people we teach.”

Bowen also laid out a five-point strategy for winning a fair contract and announced the union’s counter offer. The strategy includes: 1) naming Governor Cuomo’s responsibility for not funding our contract and demanding that he change his position; 2) enlarging our fight by involving more allies; 3) amplifying our message through increasingly aggressive media and social media campaigns; 4) making a counter-proposal to CUNY’s below-inflation offer; 5) getting organized to use our full power, if necessary, by building for a strike authorization vote. The PSC counter-offer calls for increases of a total of 14% over 6 years and includes other proposals to enhance the quality of students’ education, including allowing faculty more time with individual students and establishing employment continuity for adjunct instructors.

The union’s film series explores the theme of "surveillance” on Fri., Oct 16 in the PSC Union Hall (61 Broadway, 16th floor) with a screening and discussion of Lives of Others (Germany, 2006). It is no surprise that this Oscar-winning film garnered numerous awards since its appearance in 2006 as the astounding first feature by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (Germany, 2006). Set in the East German Democratic Republic in 1984, it accurately reprises the suspicion, surveillance, terror and despair engendered by 200,000 secret police (the Stasi) in service to the state’s hunt for its traitors, who might be your friend, employer, lover, mother… But it’s not a documentary—it’s a complex drama about how a successful playwright, his actress girlfriend and their Stasi investigator live out their life-and-death moral crises. The story is unpredictable, subtle, and extreme. Edward Snowden named it as one of his inspirations. Refreshments provided. $2 suggested donation. Doors open at 6 PM.

All full-time and part-time faculty and staff eligible for the NYC Health Benefits Program are eligible to transfer their health benefits and/or enroll during the month of October.

Labor Goes to the Movies, a committee of the Executive Council, plans and organizes the PSC’s long-running film series. As a committee, we select the annual theme and films, usually after spirited discussion, and arrange for a speaker with expertise in the film’s subject to lead discussion. The committee is open to all, and includes film studies faculty as well as members who just love movies. We meet during the spring and summer to choose the following year’s films and stays in touch by attending the screenings each month. In this, its 15th season, the series will explore the theme "The Politics of Genre."

The theme of this year's Labor Goes to the Movies film series is "surveillance." We explore the theme Fri., Sept. 18 in the PSC Union Hall (61 Broadway, 16th floor) with a screening and discussion of Citzenfour (Poitras, US, 2014). The film documents the initial interviews Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill conducted with Edward J. Snowden while U.S. intelligence was hot on his trail, interviews that resulted in the publication of his world-shaking revelations about NSA spying. Refreshments provided. $2 suggested donation. Doors open at 6 PM.