CUNY Struggle co-organized a day of action on November 30th to mark the expiration of the PSC-CUNY contract and to demand $7k for adjuncts in the next one. And when we say the next one, we mean the next contract, not the “next time” that adjuncts have been hearing about for years!
The 30th kicked off at the CUNY Graduate Center, where members of CUNY Struggle, the Doctoral Student Council, Free CUNY, the Graduate Center Chapter of the PSC, and other student activists interrupted the GC’s busy lunch hour in the dining commons to host a speak out about the expiration of the contract and the struggle ahead. Check out this video courtesy of our comrades at Left Voice:
After speaking with a wide swath of the CUNY community in the dining commons, we marched to the office of President Chase Robinson chanting “7k or Strike!” We wanted to deliver a stack of handmade signs made by passers by at our speak out, but Chase sent out one of his lackeys to tell us he was “in a meeting.” You can’t use the same excuse every time, Chase! At least next next time say you’re washing your hair.
Since Chase didn’t want to speak with us, we decided to leave our messages outside his office, and do a little interior decoration in the process.
Next up was Hunter College, where we assembled fifty people outside Hunter West with comrades from the CUNY DSA, Hunter Marxists, Free CUNY, and other groups of CUNY students and workers. We heard from CUNY students, adjuncts, and students from other universities who understand that the struggle at CUNY is theirs too.The solidarity was powerful.
After a rousing round of speakers we surprised CUNY security by marching inside Hunter. “You are not allowed in here!” they bellowed. They formed a line and threatened us with arrest if we did not immediately leave this public space. But we were not fooled by this bald-faced bluff. CUNY belongs to the people! Rather than illegally arrest us for being in a public space, they were forced to beat a tactical retreat, and called in an impressive force of backup (who says CUNY doesn’t have money?) to glare at us ominously as we held an impromptu speak out in the Hunter lobby. We chanted “7k or strike!’ while participants in our demo who had no been scheduled to speak hopped up and told their stories of struggling with adjunct wages and rising tuition. We left the lobby on our own volition, chanting “We’ll be back!”
Meanwhile in the Bronx, our comrades in the PSC chapter at Bronx Community College were hosting another 11/30 rally. This was a particularly special rally as it was planned by the late Lenny Dick, who was a great friend to CUNY Struggle before his passing last summer. Lenny bugged us — daily — until his final hours to organize these rallies and to push a rank-and-file alternative to leadership’s failed strategy. At BCC Lenny’s friends shared some words about him and speakers highlighted the related demands of $7k for adjuncts and free tuition for CUNY students — neither of which will ever be won without a united CUNY movement of students and workers fighting together to advance the interests of our most exploited. Lenny predicted that as the next contract approaches its moment of truth, those in the PSC who use shopworn leftist cliches to play both sides of every issue will be increasingly isolated. As the “7k or Strike!” ultimatum gains salience, this presiction is already on the verge of coming true.
We have also received word of a demonstration at the College of Staten Island for 11/30. If you were a part of that, please drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is our time. Years of grassroots activism against the two tier system and against tuition at CUNY are finally bearing fruit. Breathlessly chasing after its own membership, the PSC leadership has made $7k the primary demand in the coming contract. But we can’t turn our backs on these career politicians for a second. It is up to us to make sure the $7k demand is met, or else the entire CUNY system is brought to a grinding halt by a strike of workers and students that shuts down major infrastructure and hubs of commodity circulation throughout New York City. Those who say it can’t be done need to get out of the way. $7k or strike!