by Lenny Dick
The following piece is by Lenny Dick, a member of the PSC Executive Council who voted against the proposed contract. Dick’s comments reflect the bewilderment many of us feel at the gap between the PSC leadership’s rhetoric and its actions. He also asks pointed questions about the leadership’s reliance on our unsteady and ineffective friends in the Democratic Party. We agree with Dick that a full and fair accounting of the leadership’s strategy is necessary if we are to understand how and why we were presented with this unsatisfactory outcome.
This contract proposal is an austerity proposal. It is not in the interest of our members and the students of CUNY. If we ratify this deal we won’t move forward; we won’t hold our ground; we will move backwards.
In the May edition of the Clarion, President Bowen writes:
Now that PSC members have voted “yes”—by a total of 92 percent—to authorize the Executive Council to call a strike if it should become necessary, the union has sent an unequivocal message to CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken and to lawmakers in Albany that PSC members are determined to fight for what we need—and what our students need.
There is enough money in this rich state to support high-quality public college education. The issue is policy, not resources. Albany’s failure to fund our contract reflects a political decision not to invest in the students we teach.
I agree completely with Bowen’s statements in May! But I am totally opposed to this retrograde contract proposal we received on June 16! What happened between mid-May and mid-June?
Under this proposal:
- The gap between the poorest paid and those on the top steps will widen. Some of our members will be on food stamps.
- Three year appointments for adjuncts after teaching six credits or more for ten semesters at one school is not “job security.” Does anyone know how many adjuncts will be able to get such appointments?
- The 10.41% wage increase does not keep up with increases in inflation. Real wages will go down for all of our members except distinguished professors.
Not only did our demand for reduced workload get kicked down the road, but the negotiating team gave in to management’s demands for creating a cohort of untenured full-time professors and the creation of an elite of super-professors who would have no salary cap!
In my view, the PSC leadership has made several strategic errors:
- No concerted effort was ever made to get rid of the Taylor Law. In fact, in April 2006 when the TWU was hit by substantial Taylor Law fines, as resolution raised at the PSC Delegate Assembly for a fundraising campaign to raise money among our rank-and-file to give to the TWU in solidarity was defeated.
- The basic PSC stragey was to elect and make friends with city and state politicians. After Albany approved the Maintenance of Effort bill and Cuomo repeatedly refused to sign it, did our “friends” in Albany stand up to him?
How can we build our power? What must be done?
Let us call on our negotiating team to tell management that the Delegate Assembly will not accept their demands.
- Let us go to our “allies” within the CUNY Rising alliance: NYSUT, DC 37, UFT—and frankly ask them how they will help us if we go up against the Taylor Law. Their responses should be made public.
- Let us organize now among our membership and CUNY students to strike against austerity. Most of our time should be spent on the campuses organizing among the rank-and-file rather than pursuing politicians.