Barbara Bowen and the New Caucus Claim Another Stunning Victory!

BBoct30th07The results are in for the CUNY-wide PSC election, and CUNY Struggle congratulates the New Caucus on another landslide victory, cementing another three-year extension to their 18-year reign! President Bowen in particular earned a whopping 2,484 out of 2,541 cast (98%). Additionally, incoming Vice-President Andrea Vásquez won 2,396 out of 2,464 (97%); incumbent Secretary Nivedita Majumdar won 2,399 out of 2,452 (98%); and the Grad Center’s own hometown hero Luke Elliott-Negri coasted to a spot as university-wide officer with 2,227 votes! Although voter turnout is always low in PSC elections, rarely exceeding 30%, this year was especially low: only 12% of eligible voters made their voices heard!

Now, we at CUNY Struggle have been pretty hard on the New Caucus in the past. We’ve called them, among other things, a hackneyed political machine strangling every last ounce of democracy out of the PSC while masking their authoritarianism in the shopworn jargon of social justice magnetic poetry. But even as tough critics, we must concede that this election was a hard-won model of union democracy in action. Though President Bowen and her comrades didn’t have to work quite as hard as, say, Vladimir Putin, who recently won re-election with only 77%, there was nonetheless some stiff competition! Let’s take a look at the rest of the field.

Second place for president, coming in with 3 votes, was a tie between write-in votes for NC luminary and former Vice-President Michael Fabricant, and write-in votes for… Barbara Bowen! At third place, with 2 votes, was “anyone else”. Still a respectable showing! And after that, the field got even more exciting: coming in tied at 1 vote apiece, Mickey Mouse was locked in a dead heat with “NEVER!!!!!!!!! BOWEN!!!!”, “Please God, not Barbara again”, “NOTA”, “none”, “This election is a sham”, “New Blood”, Bernie Sanders, and CUNY Struggle’s own Wilson Sherwin! Congratulations Wilson! Continue reading “Barbara Bowen and the New Caucus Claim Another Stunning Victory!”

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CUNY Rank-and-Filers Take the Lead: Graduate Center PSC Endorses “7k or Strike!”

IMG_8486The people have spoken! Today the Graduate Center chapter of PSC-CUNY overwhelmingly endorsed a CUNY-wide strike if adjuncts do not win $7k/course in the coming PSC contract. Over one hundred GC chapter members and CUNY workers from across the system packed the room to capacity. It was the largest turnout we’ve seen since the chapter’s founding. We ran out of chairs, and members spilled into the hallway. Many who had never attended a PSC meeting came to deliver a simple message: The time for $7k is now. Not the contract after this one, or the one after that. Not next time. This time!

It’s not just a critical moment for CUNY. Members testified to the powerful example set by striking teachers across the country, part of what GC chapter member Frances Fox Piven called a “movement of educators,” in her remarks endorsing the resolution. In the context of this national movement, equivocating amendments to the resolution proposed by chapter leadershipwhich “watered it down” with generic wiggle words, as one member put itseemed hopelessly tone deaf. These amendments were struck down almost unanimously, amid groans and jeers. The message from the rank-and-file was as clear as it was overdue: equivocation and half measures will no longer be tolerated. Continue reading “CUNY Rank-and-Filers Take the Lead: Graduate Center PSC Endorses “7k or Strike!””

Vote Yes on “7k or Strike!” Thursday April 26th at the Graduate Center

All hands on deck! The Graduate Center chapter of PSC-CUNY is voting on a resolution to strike unless adjuncts win a $7k per course minimum wage in the next PSC-CUNY contract. If we don’t get it, shut it down! Now is our chance to take a real stand against austerity, while there’s still anything left to defend. 7k or Strike!

This important vote will be held Thursday, April 26, 12:30-2pm in room 5414 and is open to all GC chapter members. We need as many people as possible to come out in support of a strike if adjuncts don’t get 7k.

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Oklahoma, where strikes are also illegal.

For decades the standard of living for most of CUNY’s workers has been ground down, while the lowest tier of its educational workforce – adjunct faculty – has become larger and more impoverished. Previous PSC-CUNY contracts have only exacerbated this race to the bottom by widening the gap between adjuncts and full-time faculty. In the process the PSC has promoted poverty wages for CUNY adjuncts, reinforced their second-class status in the CUNY community, and devalued not just the labor of all CUNY workers, but also the education our students receive. Continue reading “Vote Yes on “7k or Strike!” Thursday April 26th at the Graduate Center”

Leaked Document Reveals Scope of Cooperation Between Baruch College and Central Intelligence Agency, Furthering CIA’s “Diversity and Inclusion Brand”

CUNY Struggle has obtained a memorandum of understanding “establishing a partnership program between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Baruch College for acquiring talent for the CIA’s diverse workforce.” This elaborate agreement puts Baruch’s staff, student body, student organizations, and even its academic programming in the service of CIA recruitment and its “diversity and inclusion brand.” Additionally the memorandum binds Baruch College to “frequent” assessments of the CIA’s “Return on Investment.” Due to the sensitivity of the situation we have agreed not to reproduce the document for the time being, but have verified its authenticity and have been allowed to quote from it freely. The agreement is dated August 21st, 2017, and is signed by Baruch president Mitchel B. Wallerstein and Glenn Gaffney, the CIA’s Associate Director for Talent.

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Baruch College, 2011. We remember!

“As part of CIA’s recruitment strategy,” the memorandum reads, “select universities are chosen to serve as a pilot for the Signature Schools Program (SSP). A broad range of recruitment activities will be conducted at select universities to build sustainable relationships with key university staff and personnel on campuses and to sustain contact with qualified and diverse applicant pools.” The recurring theme of “diversity” is crucial to this agreement. “Baruch College was evaluated based on CIA’s hiring requirements and selected based on the university’s accredited programs, the graduation rate of its students, the diversity of the student population, and CIA’s track record of onboarding quality talent from Baruch College.”

Under this agreement, the CIA will: “Conduct on-campus interviews; information sessions; workshops; simulations; and networking activities with student organizations, student honor societies, and campus chapters of diversity professional organizations such as, but not limited to, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, American Indian Science and Engineering Society and/or the Association of Latino Professionals for America.” Recruitment will be further supported by a “campus advertising campaign to communicate our diversity and inclusion brand.” Continue reading “Leaked Document Reveals Scope of Cooperation Between Baruch College and Central Intelligence Agency, Furthering CIA’s “Diversity and Inclusion Brand””

A New Era

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Whenever we get students and workers together to brainstorm a way out of the mess that CUNY is in, soon enough we face the facts that something more than patient negotiating at the bargaining table is needed, that lobbying Democrats is a glaringly obvious dead end, and that only disruption and direct action can move the needle on forty years of austerity destroying the school we love. In other words, CUNY needs to go on strike. At this moment, on cue, a loyal PSC comrade invariably rejoins: “But that’s against the law.” With that, the Taylor Law, the eternal alibi of business unionism in the CUNY system, has served its purpose once more.

The Taylor Law was enacted in 1967 as the final act of the legal recognition of New York City unions, begun a decade prior. Under the Taylor Law, City unions gained an unambiguous right to claim representation of city workers and collect their dues, and these representatives of the city’s unions got an incontestable seat at the bargaining table. The tradeoff was that these legally recognized unions can not legally go on strike. Strikes by public sector workers have been either de jure or de facto prohibited throughout New York City’s history, so this wasn’t anything particularly novel. What changed was suddenly there was an institutionalized labor bureaucracy, guaranteed a steady stream of employee dues, a staff of paid functionaries, access to the halls of power, and the conceit of imagining themselves as labor dignitaries, giving grandiose speeches, working the conference circuit touting their achievements, and issuing self-aggrandizing newsletters celebrating themselves and their small clique of friends, as they became evermore cemented as the left wing of management. And this class of union bureaucrat suddenly had a lot to lose if workers struck. Accordingly, the legally codified power of New York City’s unions, gained through the bold and daring strikes of workers in sanitation, transit, and the city’s public schools, is now contingent on the ability of its leadership to prevent strikes. So when somebody tells you we can’t go on strike because its against the law, what they mean is it would challenge the union’s financial infrastructure and the cozy arrangement our leadership has with the city. A strike would place us in an actual confrontation with the forces of austerity, not the performance of confrontation we currently have, with its empty rhetorical grandstanding and symbolic, stage-managed arrests. This means the PSC would have to take some of its social justice magnetic poetry like “fighting against the logic of the neoliberal regime” and actually live by it. But that would require a profound break from business as usual.

As it happens, this past week, two profoundly unusual things occurred. Continue reading “A New Era”

“7k or Strike!”: The PSC Rank-and-File Awakens

GC Speakout

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:

Continue reading ““7k or Strike!”: The PSC Rank-and-File Awakens”

November 30th: Rank-and-File CUNY Actions for $7k and Free Tuition!

To kick off negotiations for the coming PSC-CUNY contract, CUNY Struggle is proud to be co-organizing this independent day of action along with Free CUNY, CUNY Workers United, CUNY DSA, Adjunct Project, and the Graduate Center chapter PSC-CUNY.

Thursday, Nov 30
* Bronx Community College, 2pm, Main Quad
* Graduate Center, 12:30-2pm, Dining Commons
* Hunter, 3pm, Hunter College West (Rally for $7k and Free Tuition!)

On November 30, PSC-CUNY’s contract expires and most CUNY teachers and staff begin working without a contract. Even though CUNY continues to pay its adjunct professors starvation wages, tuition is still climbing for students.

Join us on 3 campuses across CUNY to kick off the campaign for the next PSC-CUNY contract, demanding a $7k/class minimum salary for adjuncts and free tuition for CUNY students! Everyone is welcome: CUNY students, staff, faculty, friends, family, and neighbors.

Why are we rallying?

The last PSC-CUNY contract deepened the inequality in CUNY’s workforce, with the biggest raises going to the highest-paid faculty and staff at CUNY. Meanwhile the Board of Trustees and college presidents make six-figure salaries. The City and State could fund CUNY if they wanted to. We aren’t a priority for them because we aren’t fighting for it. If we are united, we’ll be unstoppable!

We demand a $7k minimum wage per course for adjuncts in the CUNY system — in the next PSC-CUNY contract, and not a second later. This is an issue of economic justice for the educators who teach New York City’s working class college students. We also demand free tuition for CUNY students. There’s enough wealth in New York City to make this happen if we chop from the top.

We kicked off the school year with a lively demonstration outside Governor Cuomo’s Manhattan office, and marched to CUNY Central where our message was clear: the time has come for economic justice in the CUNY system! We were joined by students who spoke of the challenges facing working class New Yorkers as tuition rises. These struggles are connected and require a united campaign to resist austerity at CUNY.

CUNY can be free again and adjuncts can make the living wage they deserve. But nobody is going to give this to us just because we make a moral argument. No politician, CUNY administrator, or NYC millionaire will take our demand for $7k and free tuition seriously until we show them how powerful we can be!