CUNY Adjunct Project Endorses Strike

We re-post below an announcement from the CUNY Adjunct Project, an organization that since 1993 has operated under the auspices of the Doctoral Students’ Council at the CUNY Graduate Center. The goals of the Adjunct Project are to “raise consciousness about academic labor issues inside and outside CUNY, educate GC adjuncts about ways to address these issues, and activate GC student workers to improve their collective position as workers at CUNY.” Last week the three members of the Adjunct Project collectively endorsed a potential strike by members of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the union that represents around 25,000 CUNY faculty and staff who have worked without a contract for the last six years. Any strike by CUNY faculty and staff would violate the New York State Public Employees Fair Employment Act, popularly known as the Taylor Law, which prohibits public employees from striking or even to “cause, instigate, encourage, or condone a strike.” The Adjunct Project has recently posted video of a 2011 event called “‘What Do You Mean I Can’t Strike?’: Confronting the Taylor Law” and has announced a new event called “The Will to Strike (Against the Taylor Law),” scheduled for April 6. What follows below is the text of the recent Adjunct Project announcement endorsing a strike.

Since the beginning of this academic year, there has been talk of a strike as the only way to ensure a decent contract with CUNY management, which the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) has been steadily bargaining with since June 2014 (after an initial bargaining session in January 2011). Six years have passed since the last contract expired, and management, having made a measly contract offer that would essentially amount to a pay cut for faculty and staff, has declared an impasse.

The possibility of a strike first became tangible when the PSC announced in October that it would hold a strike-authorization vote that, if successful, would allow the PSC’s Executive Council to call a strike. Subsequently, the PSC has been asking its members to publicly declare their intention to vote yes on that strike-authorization vote when it occurs; in response, a range of additional organizing has also ensued.

Now, despite management’s notice of impasse, preparations for a strike-authorization vote continue; indeed, if management has essentially given up on bargaining, as the notice of impasse indicates, holding a strike seems all the more crucial.

In this context, having deliberated among ourselves as Adjunct Project coordinators, and having consulted with numerous other parties over the last several months, the Adjunct Project has decided to endorse a strike because we believe that it is, indeed, the only way to ensure a decent contract. Further, we believe that a strike is essential to ensuring that adjunct needs and student needs are sufficiently met in the contract.

To this end, we are endorsing four related initiatives in support of both a strike and the centering of adjunct and student needs:

  1. the PSC’s public pledge to vote yes on the strike-authorization vote, to indicate that you support a strike and will vote yes on the strike-authorization vote when it occurs;
  2. the Alternative Strike Pledge for Adjuncts and Allies, to indicate that you support a strike that specifically centers adjunct and student concerns;
  3. the Adjunct Message Center, to support the demands of long-time adjuncts and to convey them to the PSC leadership; and
  4. the CUNY Struggle CUNY-wide popular assembly on Sat. 3/12, a forum to discuss and unify worker demands from across CUNY.

We encourage everyone who reads this statement to affirm or participate in the aforementioned initiatives how you see fit, and we look forward to continuing to work with you and adjunct allies across CUNY in support of a strike.

Our next steps in this effort will be (1) a resolution affirming a strike that we plan to bring to the Doctoral Students’ Council in March, and (2) a panel discussion, “The Will to Strike (Against the Taylor Law),” on April 6th, a sequel of sorts to our 2011 event “Breaking the Taylor Law” (which can be watched here). Stay tuned for more details.

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