Visit HR for Fun and Profit

In the coming weeks and months we’ll be hearing from the people of CUNY in their own words. Had a run-in with management? Feeling mad about the injustices of the two tier system? Are you a student struggling to balance life, work and school? We want to hear from you. Email submissions to cunystruggleinfo@gmail.com

This first post in our series of worker and student stories is written by a graduate student worker and adjunct at one of the CUNY campuses.

I had some spare time between classes yesterday and decided to visit my local HR department. Because of the on-again, off-again nature of adjunct work and possibly due to factors related to my own lifestyle, I can’t quite remember if I have been employed as an adjunct for six straight semesters and am therefore entitled to a step increase that has not shown up on my latest appointment letter. So I went to my HR office to ask them for a copy of my employment history with the school. I delivered my request to the receptionist, who looked at me like I had just landed from Mars and insisted to know why I would want such a thing. I told her I wanted it “just to have it” and eventually just “can I please have it”—it’s in the contract, after all. This was not the right answer. She said make sure you sign the register with your exact name and department and I was told to wait while she gathered reinforcements.

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Reflections on the first CUNY-Wide Popular Assembly

Last Saturday, over 100 people turned out for the first of what we hope are many CUNY-Wide Popular Assemblies. At this day-long event people from across CUNY, including students, faculty, staff and community members, came together to discuss our common problems and imagine a way out.

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CUNY Adjunct Project Endorses Strike

We re-post below an announcement from the CUNY Adjunct Project, an organization that since 1993 has operated under the auspices of the Doctoral Students’ Council at the CUNY Graduate Center. The goals of the Adjunct Project are to “raise consciousness about academic labor issues inside and outside CUNY, educate GC adjuncts about ways to address these issues, and activate GC student workers to improve their collective position as workers at CUNY.” Last week the three members of the Adjunct Project collectively endorsed a potential strike by members of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the union that represents around 25,000 CUNY faculty and staff who have worked without a contract for the last six years. Any strike by CUNY faculty and staff would violate the New York State Public Employees Fair Employment Act, popularly known as the Taylor Law, which prohibits public employees from striking or even to “cause, instigate, encourage, or condone a strike.” The Adjunct Project has recently posted video of a 2011 event called “‘What Do You Mean I Can’t Strike?’: Confronting the Taylor Law” and has announced a new event called “The Will to Strike (Against the Taylor Law),” scheduled for April 6. What follows below is the text of the recent Adjunct Project announcement endorsing a strike. Continue reading “CUNY Adjunct Project Endorses Strike”

Notes on the Impasse and PSC Bargaining Agenda

The notice of impasse issued late last month amidst the PSC’s ongoing contract negotiations gives the public a rare peek into a process that has been opaque to a vast majority of PSC members. The notice, issued by CUNY management, asserts that bargaining has broken down and requires a third party mediator in order to move forward. President Bowen’s November announcement of a strike authorization vote features prominently in CUNY’s argument as evidence that good faith is no longer present in the proceedings. We now hear that mediation sessions are moving forward, though the timeline for actionable decisions remains open ended.

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The Contract Struggle at CUNY: A View from Below

Last Fall some folks affiliated with CUNY Struggle penned a response to The Nation‘s uncritical coverage of the ongoing PSC contract dispute. As the ruling class offensive on US trade unionism ever intensifies, far too many comrades in leftist media confuse unquestioning support for existing union structures and leaderships with support for the working class against capital, and we find this to be a major miscalculation. The Nation declined to print our response, and though the situation has changed since December, we are sharing our opinion below as an invitation to dialogue and critique.  Continue reading “The Contract Struggle at CUNY: A View from Below”

Toward a Renewed CUNY Movement

Tuition is rising across CUNY, while wages for faculty and staff are stagnating. The Professional Staff Congress (PSC), which represents 25,000 CUNY workers, has been unable to secure a fair contract for over five years. Student life and campus activism are increasingly suppressed and policed, while facilities crumble and student movement gains of yesteryear like the Morales/Shakur Center are lost. Professors dedicated to educating working class young people are teaching huge courseloads in overcrowded classrooms, while many adjunct professors face insecure futures, stretched thin across multiple campuses and struggling to get by on low wages. Like Higher education more broadly, CUNY is in the midst of a crisis and nothing will change for the better until we learn to work together to fight for both ourselves and our institutions.

Continue reading “Toward a Renewed CUNY Movement”