We Need to Break Some Rules

By Andy Battle

Professional Staff Congress leadership, feeling the heat in the midst of a sustained outbreak of critical thinking on the latest status-quo contract they are trying to slide by the membership, have sent out one of their most reliable adjunct allies, College of Staten Island instructor Michael Batson, who has taken to the pages of Alternet (several weeks after we did) to urge adjuncts to rein in their anger and their strategic imagination and admit, as the leadership does and as CUNY management desperately needs us to do, that There Is No Alternative to the present status quo, whereby the college teaching workforce is composed of a shrinking tier of relatively privileged full-time faculty protected from the worst ravages of the anti-teacher, anti-student agenda of right-wing politicians like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo while they are gradually replaced by a new kind of teacher—the permanently poor, permanently cowed, permanently disposable worker known as the adjunct.

Continue reading “We Need to Break Some Rules”

A Message for CUNY Members: Don’t Take the Money

by Sigmund Shen

This fantastic essay originally appeared in In These Times

I recently attended a memorial service for James Haughton, an alumnus of the City University of New York (CUNY). As founder of a group called Harlem Fight Back, Haughton was a central figure in the fight against racist hiring in the construction industry. One of the eulogists spoke about the first time he joined a Harlem Fight Back “shaping” crew, walking onto a job site to demand work for people of color from the community. The contractor claimed not to be hiring and quickly offered the delegation a payoff of $35,000, in cash, to go away. Shaken, crew members went asking for guidance from Haughton, who said simply, “Don’t. Take. The Money.”

Continue reading “A Message for CUNY Members: Don’t Take the Money”

Faces of the No! Campaign

These are only a few of the countless PSC rank-and-filers who have come out of the woodwork to denounce this rotten contract and the failed strategy it represents. Update: We’ve received and posted two submissions, from Daniel and Rachel, since we originally made this post. Send your own to CUNYStruggleInfo@gmail.com! And follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @cunystruggle

Ruth Wangerin is voting NO!

Andy Battle is voting NO!

Yvonne Groseil supports a vote NO!

Michelle Thompson is voting NO!

Jarrod Shanahan is voting NO!

Alan Trevithick is voting NO!

Rachel Chapman is voting NO!

Daniel Tehrani is voting NO!

PSC President Barbara Bowen Responds to the NO campaign

no_CUNY_pay_cut.jpgIn the midst of a spirited NO campaign, PSC leaders are showing signs of  feeling the heat. President Barbara Bowen took time out from attending the American Federation of Teachers convention in Minneapolis to submit a reply, posted by PSC Secretary Nivedita Majumdar, to Rita Tobin’s compelling Huffington Post piece explaining why she opposes the tentative agreement with CUNY that PSC leaders submitted to the membership on July 11. We reprint below Bowen’s sharp-elbowed but ultimately unconvincing reply, as well as responses to Bowen from several PSC members. Read Tobin’s piece first to get the context and then follow the debate below.

—Editors

Continue reading “PSC President Barbara Bowen Responds to the NO campaign”

Demo and News Coverage

On July 14—Bastille Day—CUNY Struggle and Adjuncts and Graduate Students for a Fair Contract hosted a demonstration outside the offices of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the union that represents over 27,000 faculty and staff at CUNY. As CUNY Struggle readers know, PSC leadership wishes to compel us to accept a profoundly unsatisfactory contract in which they made little effort to oppose the two-tiered, divide-and-rule academic labor system, all the while collecting accolades and even something called a “militancy award” for their strident verbal condemnations of our predicament.

The demonstration was intended as a show of organized public opposition to both the contract and the failed strategy that produced it. CUNY Struggle and Adjuncts and Graduate Students for a Fair Contract have spearheaded the campaign to vote NO on the contract and to rebuild the union from the ground up as a militant organization capable of going on the offensive and linking up with the city’s broader working class—including our 450,000 students—to make CUNY a truly public university and reverse the forty-year-long assault on working people that has reduced us to our present state of weakness.

We spoke to reporters from several news outlets and both Politico New York and The Chief-Leader, New York’s “Civil Service Bible,” ran stories on our opposition movement. We reprint below the text of the article that appeared in the Chief-Leader but the Politico New York article remains inaccessible behind a paywall. As CUNY Struggle is an authentically grassroots organization with a war chest of precisely zero, we encourage you to send us the Politico article so we can read it! Hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, or at cunystruggleinfo@gmail.com.

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Continue reading “Demo and News Coverage”

The “Vote No!” Campaign Featured Today in Jacobin, The Huffington Post

Righteous texts condemning the concessionary contract continue to pour in! Just today, two CUNY Struggle comrades published separate pieces in Jacobin and the Huffington Post.

In “Celebrating Defeat”, James D. Hoff responds to a laudatory analysis of the contract Jacobin published over the weekend. Many readers voiced their outrage about PSC propaganda passing as analysis in the pages of a radical publication, and to Jacobin’s credit, they happily provided space to the voice of opposition.

In “Why I’m Voting ‘No’ On the CUNY-PSC Proposed Contract”, Rita C. Tobin offers her story as an adjunct to buttress her opposition to the contract, which may be familiar to CUNYStruggle.org readers.

We have also taken a giant step into the 21st Century, with the Twitter account @CUNYStruggle.

If you’d like share your story, make a video, or respond to something we’ve published, don’t hestitate contact us: cunystruggleinfo@gmail.com. An independent rank-and-file movement starts with YOU!

Why I Voted Against the Proposed Contract

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.

—Editors

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.

Bowen continues:

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? Continue reading “Why I Voted Against the Proposed Contract”