Strike Authorization Campaign Resolutions Pass at Four CUNY Campuses

The votes in favor of the Strike Authorization Campaign Resolution (hereafter SACR) on Thursday at both Bronx Community College and Borough of Manhattan Community college were nearly unanimous. In the photo above, BMCC Chapter Chair Kathleen Offenholley proudly raises her hand in favor of the vote that could mark a sweeping shift in strategy from the lobbying, nonconfrontational, legalistic tactics that characterize the PSC central’s general approach to union activism.

The SACR was passed at BMCC with two minor amendments and will be forwarded to the Executive Council of the PSC and to the Delegate Assembly. Four campuses–add to the list Queens College and the Graduate Center–have pasted the resolution so far this fall, concretizing the wave of interest that began last year when 11 campuses voted to endorse a $7KOS resolution. Votes are being scheduled at other campuses in the coming months.

The campaign lays out a coordinated practical strategy that encompasses financial, interpersonal, social, and material organization in the lead-up to a strike. Mass education on the importance of a strike, food drives and financial assistance, public relations committees, additional adjunct liaisoning, and broad faculty-student solidarity will all be needed in the coming months after the PSC releases what promises to be woefully inadequate contract proposal, as we take action to fight it.

In direct contradistinction to a climate of austerity, of pitting part-timers against full-timers, and students against staff, the SACR pushes for a climate of unity and support, stepping in for overworked adjunct liaisons and drawing on individual strengths to craft a cohesive and fundamentally pragmatic campaign historically proven to be the most effective way to achieve fair and equitable working conditions.

Over 40 people were present at BMCC over the course of the three-hour meeting, about average for a BMCC chapter meeting. 7K or Strike activists are becoming widely known as the most feisty, mobilized, energetic, and active participants in union democracy, and full-timers and part-timers alike have expressed their support of the movement from afar. Many adjuncts are barred from attending procedural meetings by the scheduling demands and overwork that create the need for a strike in the first place. No one showed up at BMCC to oppose the vote everyone was informed in advance was happening, and no one spoke out against it.

Instead, there was a great discussion of how to build support for a fully funded contract with $7K for adjuncts, and we also passed a resolution calling on the Executive Council to immediately begin preparing for a large rally in front of the Governor’s NYC offices to demand more funding for our contract and a tuition-free university.

Support for a strike has been rising across titles this semester as we face almost two years without a contract and PSC leadership continues to stall and prevaricate on the status of negotiations. At the well-attended Grad Center chapter meeting in September, the vote was 65 for and 16 against, which included a number of HEOs and librarians voting in favor of SACR. Members were perhaps incensed by the so-called “contract update” initially given at the meeting by Andrea Vásquez, who arguably did more to promote the necessity of a strike authorization campaign than anyone else who spoke.

Next week there is yet another Delegate Assembly meeting that looks to be devoid of any new contract proposal (known as the Memorandum of Agreement, or MOA) from the bargaining committee. As each day passes without a contract, more and more rank & file members are recognizing the viability of the SACR and the likely necessity of a strike to secure a fully funded contract that offers no less than $7k/course for adjuncts and refuses to allow gains at the expense of student tuition hikes. After all, even PSC President Barbara Bowen remarked at the last DA, “don’t just vote on personal affiliations, but what’s on offer and whether it’s the best for CUNY.”

If you would like to get involved in helping us build the strike authorization campaign, including a strike authorization committee, please contact 7KOS at 7korstrike@gmail.com.

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