John Jay Becomes the 11th PSC Chapter to Endorse $7K or Strike

After months of intensive organizing in classrooms, faculty offices, adjunct cubbies, and hallways at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, an overflowing, standing-room-only PSC chapter meeting on April 15th, 2019 adopted a “$7K or Strike” motion without amendments, 62–48–4. In doing so, John Jay becomes the eleventh CUNY chapter to pass a $7KOS resolution. The feeling in the room was electric. Members across job titles expressed our commitment to standing up for each other, and to building the capacity to press our non-negotiable demand to make adjunct working conditions livable. Students, alumni, PSC workers from other units, and community members all joined to show their support, swelling the meeting to well over 150 people, who spilled out into the halls and strained to hear the proceedings inside.

Continue reading “John Jay Becomes the 11th PSC Chapter to Endorse $7K or Strike”

April Fools! CUNY’s Budget Reveals the Folly of Lobbying

A lobbying proponent entreats the Board of Trustees, in vain.

The verdict is in. After over a year of PSC’s (latest) costly and time-consuming effort to lobby “progressive” politicians and the Board of Trustees to enlarge CUNY’s budget, the new budget dropped on April 1st. To say it is wretched is an understatement. It doesn’t even fund CUNY’s mandatory cost increases such as rent, energy, contractual step increases, and fringe benefits. It’s unclear how CUNY will even fund something President Bowen claimed was won in the last contract: a course load reduction for full-time faculty. For adjuncts, the situation is even more dire. There’s nothing even approaching $7K. Adjuncts are offered the same paltry 2% raise everyone else gets.

In short, all the bus trips to Albany, pep rallies for the cameras, endorsements of “progressive” Democrats, phone calls, postcards, and persuasive moral arguments at the Board of Trustees meetings have come to naught. This latest rebuke of the lobbying tactic might be brushed off by the relatively affluent full-timers who call the shots in PSC, and continue to cling to illusions that change will come from speaking truth to power. They are comfortable enough to be able to afford their fantasies. For adjunct faculty, however, these illusions threaten to rob us of our ability to keep the lights on, the rent paid, and our most basic needs met. For us, this foolishness is deathly serious.

Continue reading “April Fools! CUNY’s Budget Reveals the Folly of Lobbying”

No Compromises: The PSC Must Fight for $7K or Strike!

The real story of last week was not the regrettable smear lodged against the $7K or Strike campaign by a small group of union politicians. Instead, it was the PSC bargaining team’s counter-offer, issued unilaterally to CUNY with no consultation even with our Delegate Assembly. Depending on who you talk to, this offer could represent a retreat from the demand for a $7K/course adjunct minimum wage that has been a cornerstone of contract negotiations until now. Is it any wonder President Bowen took this moment to attack the activists fighting hardest for $7K?

The following statement was written by a comrade at Borough of Manhattan Community College, and distributed to members of their PSC chapter shortly after the counter-offer was announced. We welcome analysis about the meaning of this offer moving forward. We refuse to be distracted from the real issues, and we sure as hell won’t stop building a movement to win #7KorStrike.

The New Caucus and the leadership of the PSC CUNY have already begun to back away from the demand for $7K. The rank and file must say NO to this betrayal. 

Last week the New Caucus Leadership unveiled its counter-proposal to management’s first economic offer and the results are not promising. What has happened and what can we do?

Continue reading “No Compromises: The PSC Must Fight for $7K or Strike!”

7K or Strike Resolution Passes at Queens College

reposted from our comrades at Queens Adjuncts Unite

At the Queens College chapter meeting of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, a vote was held on a resolution in support of going on strike if CUNY does not agree at the bargaining table to pay adjunct faculty $7k per course minimum. Current starting pay is less than half of that amount, with many adjuncts teaching a full-time load for poverty wages of roughly $20k a year. Annual percentage raises won in prior contracts have only increased the salary gap between the lowest- and highest-paid faculty members.

The resolution sparked a lively discussion after PSC Vice President for Senior Colleges Penny Lewis reported on the state of the contract bargaining process and the union’s lobbying efforts to fund CUNY. At its peak, the March 20 meeting was attended by about 34 PSC members who work at Queens College. Of approximately 25 who were still there when the vote took place, 14 voted for the resolution, four voted against, and three abstained. Several people did not vote.

Continue reading “7K or Strike Resolution Passes at Queens College”

We’ve Been Busy

Assistant Professor James Hoff makes the case for tenure-line faculty to support #7KorStrike

CUNY Struggle has been hard at work organizing with the campaign for #7KorStrike, a citywide coalition working from the bottom-up to win $7K per course for CUNY adjuncts by putting CUNY politics back in the hands of students and the rank-and-file.

In defiance of the snow and an asteroid belt of MTA delays, last Saturday’s 7K or Strike Conference & Organizing Day drew over 100 people from across CUNY and beyond, for a day of sharing knowledge, pooling resources, and strategizing for the fight ahead.

The campaign has also played a driving force in the movement of “grade-ins” for $7K, beginning with the grade-in for 7K or Strike last semester at Brooklyn College. Brooklyn remains the flagship of the grade-in movement, thanks largely to the solidarity from student groups like the Brooklyn College Student union. Check out these testimonials from the last grade-in, attended by over fifty people… the number to beat!

Grade-ins bring unwaged adjunct labor into the hallways of CUNY campuses, to call attention to adjunct exploitation while simultaneously building a movement to win $7K by any means necessary. Grade-ins have been held at Brookyn College, BMCC, Lehman, Hostos, and John Jay. If you’d like to see one on your campus, don’t wait for instructions from on high; organize it yourself! Just be sure to invite us 🙂

Check out the photo gallery below for a sample of what’s been happening at CUNY so far this year. If you’d like to get involved, what’s the holdup? We are the PSC, and we are CUNY! Join us. #7KorStrike

CUNY-Wide 7K or Strike Conference & Organizing Day, Saturday March 2nd

Join CUNY Struggle and our comrades from the 7K or Strike campaign for a day of planning and scheming to win 7K per course by any means necessary!conference

This will be a CUNY-Wide Conference and Organizing Day on “7K or Strike,” organized by an ad hoc committee of rank-and-file activists from campuses across the CUNY system. The conference is part of ongoing efforts to build, broaden, and deepen support for the type of action needed to win the demand (now formally adopted by the CUNY faculty-staff union) for $7,000 per course minimum pay for adjuncts.

It will include reports from campuses where “$7K or Strike” resolutions have passed or are pending; organizing for next steps; and discussions on linking up with CUNY undergrads; lessons from education workers’ strikes, labor, and immigrant-worker struggles in NYC and beyond; and how to overcome obstacles posed by New York State’s Taylor Law and CUNY’s multi-tier labor system, in order to build the kind of power and unity needed to win.

For more information, write: 7korstrike@gmail.com or check out the event listing here.

LA Teachers’ Strike Shows a Way Forward for CUNY

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We can do this too!

For those of us who work and study at CUNY, the story of Los Angeles schools is all too familiar. For decades, LAUSD was kept alive on a starvation budget, the inadequacy of which was exacerbated by a rapid rise in charter schools which further ate up public reserves. Teachers were asked to do more with less. Teach more students. Prepare for more (standardized) tests. Work more hours. Accept less pay. Lose support staff. Note that, though your students and their families are often in crisis—struggling to make ends meet in a hyper-segregated city where affordable housing is a thing of the past—you are to deliver better academic results. Do not focus too much on the alienation and fear of your students as they attempt to make sense of their place in the City of Angels, where all new infrastructure is built for the rich.

With class sizes of 40 and upward, there is no time to pause and no money to pay a counselor or school psychologist anyway. If you as a teacher are also struggling to find your place in the city, do not question it. Never mind that you, too, are increasingly being pushed to the city’s edges, giving more of your waking hours to your commute. Watch as your Democratic elected officials bend over backwards to lure billion-dollar tech companies into your town, but cry poor when you ask for funding so that your buildings might stop crumbling.

The story is familiar because it is part of a nationwide pattern of attacks on public education, a chronic defunding of the kind CUNY has been subjected to since the 1970s. The end goals of these attacks—to incrementally shut down public institutions and keep the working class in survival mode—are no longer hard to see. We at CUNY Struggle find ourselves in rare agreement with PSC President Barbara Bowen, who noted in her most recent email: “UTLA’s fight is, in a very direct way, our fight,” since “we at CUNY know exactly what austerity education means.”

But there is a fundamental difference between what is happening at CUNY and what is happening in LA. Continue reading “LA Teachers’ Strike Shows a Way Forward for CUNY”