Best wishes at the start of a new semester and a new year. This must be the year in which CUNY management makes a reasonable economic offer to the PSC and agrees on a good contract settlement.
The union negotiating team has made it clear that we need an offer that at least keeps pace with inflation and allows us to address other urgent needs at the University, some economic, some non-economic. We have insisted that retroactive pay increases be part of the contract. But not a single dollar has yet been offered.
That’s why the union leadership is calling for an escalation of the campaign for a new contract. We mean it when we say: “No contract, no peace!” The escalation starts with a virtual mass action this Monday, February 2. Early Monday morning, you will receive instructions about how to participate. Be ready to phone, fax, tweet and email during that day—Monday, February 2—to deliver the message about the urgency of achieving a fair contract. Monday’s action will set the stage for a series of intensifying actions, building on the pressure we applied last fall.
The PSC is prepared to do everything strategic and necessary to gain the contract we deserve. That includes public pressure through the media, militant demonstrations in Albany and elsewhere, presentation of thousands of your signatures on the contract petition, direct pressure on elected officials at City and State levels, a mass action at CUNY, local actions on the campuses, and more. The PSC is a fighting union; we have consistently refused to accept the lie of austerity politics that there is not enough money for CUNY, its students or its employees. Expect to be called on this spring to use the power each of us has as a union member and an academic worker. We can win this fight.
Last fall thousands of us signed the contract petition to demand action on our contract by the City and State. The petition will remain open for signatures until February 17 so that everyone will have a chance to sign before it is presented publicly. Nearly 10,000 faculty and staff have already signed—but everyone’s name should be there! Sign here to show that you are serious about a new contract. Be there when we present the petition at a public event.
CUNY management heard our message last fall, and Chancellor Milliken reports that he is intensely focused on making an economic offer to the union. The union negotiating team has held several productive bargaining sessions with management representatives, laying the groundwork for a contract once an economic agreement is reached. We have made detailed presentations about our excessive teaching loads, the need for competitive salaries, for avenues to promotion for HEOs, job stability for adjuncts, tuition waivers for our children, and more. Progress has been made in discussions, but nothing can be resolved without a satisfactory economic offer.
The PSC leadership has been in direct conversation with elected officials about the need for full funding for our contract by the City and State, drawing on the political visibility the union has gained through years of activism. But responsibility for putting an offer on the table rests with the CUNY Board of Trustees, and we will hold the trustees accountable for reaching an economic settlement. That message was delivered to the Board this week, in an open letter and forceful action at the Board meeting.
There will be many actions to come—together with the union leadership’s direct work with the City and State officials involved with our contract. Monday’s virtual mass action will signal our determination to achieve the contract we deserve. Remember to watch your email Monday morning for information on how to join in. If we all act together, we can be an unbeatable force.