The Contract Debate is Dead, Long Live the Contract Debate

The PSC-CUNY contract has been ratified by 94% of 72% of the union’s eligible voters, in a deal Governor Andrew Cuomo called “truly equitable for everyone involved”. While this victory for the status quo saddens us, it comes as no surprise. The PSC leadership did not campaign for a yes vote based on the strengths of the contract. Instead they played on the fear of what would happen were the contract not accepted, and the temptation to simply vote yes and receive a one-time signing bonus and back pay.

Fear mongering mass-emails from the PSC leadership admitted as much, flatly stating that this contract was the best possible deal and that subsequent offers would only be worse. PSC members, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, were asked to abandon till next time their hopes that the two-tier system would be addressed, and asked instead to calculate the cash the contract would bring them, with a reminder that these funds would only be delivered upon the passage of the contract.

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We Need to Break Some Rules

By Andy Battle

Professional Staff Congress leadership, feeling the heat in the midst of a sustained outbreak of critical thinking on the latest status-quo contract they are trying to slide by the membership, have sent out one of their most reliable adjunct allies, College of Staten Island instructor Michael Batson, who has taken to the pages of Alternet (several weeks after we did) to urge adjuncts to rein in their anger and their strategic imagination and admit, as the leadership does and as CUNY management desperately needs us to do, that There Is No Alternative to the present status quo, whereby the college teaching workforce is composed of a shrinking tier of relatively privileged full-time faculty protected from the worst ravages of the anti-teacher, anti-student agenda of right-wing politicians like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo while they are gradually replaced by a new kind of teacher—the permanently poor, permanently cowed, permanently disposable worker known as the adjunct.

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A Message for CUNY Members: Don’t Take the Money

by Sigmund Shen

This fantastic essay originally appeared in In These Times

I recently attended a memorial service for James Haughton, an alumnus of the City University of New York (CUNY). As founder of a group called Harlem Fight Back, Haughton was a central figure in the fight against racist hiring in the construction industry. One of the eulogists spoke about the first time he joined a Harlem Fight Back “shaping” crew, walking onto a job site to demand work for people of color from the community. The contractor claimed not to be hiring and quickly offered the delegation a payoff of $35,000, in cash, to go away. Shaken, crew members went asking for guidance from Haughton, who said simply, “Don’t. Take. The Money.”

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Faces of the No! Campaign

These are only a few of the countless PSC rank-and-filers who have come out of the woodwork to denounce this rotten contract and the failed strategy it represents. Update: We’ve received and posted two submissions, from Daniel and Rachel, since we originally made this post. Send your own to CUNYStruggleInfo@gmail.com! And follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @cunystruggle

Ruth Wangerin is voting NO!

Andy Battle is voting NO!

Yvonne Groseil supports a vote NO!

Michelle Thompson is voting NO!

Jarrod Shanahan is voting NO!

Alan Trevithick is voting NO!

Rachel Chapman is voting NO!

Daniel Tehrani is voting NO!

PSC President Barbara Bowen Responds to the NO campaign

no_CUNY_pay_cut.jpgIn the midst of a spirited NO campaign, PSC leaders are showing signs of  feeling the heat. President Barbara Bowen took time out from attending the American Federation of Teachers convention in Minneapolis to submit a reply, posted by PSC Secretary Nivedita Majumdar, to Rita Tobin’s compelling Huffington Post piece explaining why she opposes the tentative agreement with CUNY that PSC leaders submitted to the membership on July 11. We reprint below Bowen’s sharp-elbowed but ultimately unconvincing reply, as well as responses to Bowen from several PSC members. Read Tobin’s piece first to get the context and then follow the debate below.

—Editors

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Demo and News Coverage

On July 14—Bastille Day—CUNY Struggle and Adjuncts and Graduate Students for a Fair Contract hosted a demonstration outside the offices of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the union that represents over 27,000 faculty and staff at CUNY. As CUNY Struggle readers know, PSC leadership wishes to compel us to accept a profoundly unsatisfactory contract in which they made little effort to oppose the two-tiered, divide-and-rule academic labor system, all the while collecting accolades and even something called a “militancy award” for their strident verbal condemnations of our predicament.

The demonstration was intended as a show of organized public opposition to both the contract and the failed strategy that produced it. CUNY Struggle and Adjuncts and Graduate Students for a Fair Contract have spearheaded the campaign to vote NO on the contract and to rebuild the union from the ground up as a militant organization capable of going on the offensive and linking up with the city’s broader working class—including our 450,000 students—to make CUNY a truly public university and reverse the forty-year-long assault on working people that has reduced us to our present state of weakness.

We spoke to reporters from several news outlets and both Politico New York and The Chief-Leader, New York’s “Civil Service Bible,” ran stories on our opposition movement. We reprint below the text of the article that appeared in the Chief-Leader but the Politico New York article remains inaccessible behind a paywall. As CUNY Struggle is an authentically grassroots organization with a war chest of precisely zero, we encourage you to send us the Politico article so we can read it! Hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, or at cunystruggleinfo@gmail.com.

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The “Vote No!” Campaign Featured Today in Jacobin, The Huffington Post

Righteous texts condemning the concessionary contract continue to pour in! Just today, two CUNY Struggle comrades published separate pieces in Jacobin and the Huffington Post.

In “Celebrating Defeat”, James D. Hoff responds to a laudatory analysis of the contract Jacobin published over the weekend. Many readers voiced their outrage about PSC propaganda passing as analysis in the pages of a radical publication, and to Jacobin’s credit, they happily provided space to the voice of opposition.

In “Why I’m Voting ‘No’ On the CUNY-PSC Proposed Contract”, Rita C. Tobin offers her story as an adjunct to buttress her opposition to the contract, which may be familiar to CUNYStruggle.org readers.

We have also taken a giant step into the 21st Century, with the Twitter account @CUNYStruggle.

If you’d like share your story, make a video, or respond to something we’ve published, don’t hestitate contact us: cunystruggleinfo@gmail.com. An independent rank-and-file movement starts with YOU!