The Fight Against Austerity at CUNY Continues

In the four weeks since the Memorandum of Agreement was announced, we have witnessed a groundswell of energy from the rank & file in our fight against a powerful machine consisting of PSC leadership, CUNY management, and Governor Cuomo’s austerity regime. It was truly inspiring to witness the energy and enthusiasm of thousands of members and our students calling out this contract for what it is: a capitulation to the status quo.

PSC executives led a disinformation campaign (paid for with our dues!), buying ads and directing staffers to get out a yes vote on a contract that was, in reality, nowhere near historic. Our union’s leadership attempted to stifle discussion by shortening the voting window, censoring social media discussion, and ignoring rank-and-file demands for more contract town halls and meetings. They shrugged off the material needs of the most exploited members, and spread fear about the outcome of a no vote. Despite all this, we succeeded in creating online and face-to-face spaces for horizontal rank and file mobilization. This was truly historic. 

We knew this would be a tough battle, and we knew that many members would choose to ratify the contract simply because they felt disarmed, demobilized, and continually bombarded by leadership with the false notion that this contract was “the best we could do.” While we did not achieve the 51% vote required to reject the contract, we have gained a community of comrades, colleagues, and friends who have committed to building oppositional strategies and resisting neoliberal logic and complacency. Our social media platforms have received hundreds of new followers and posts sharing justified outrage, frustration, and solidarity. Solidarity with students, most powerfully expressed with the Free CUNY campaign’s support for $7K or Strike, has shown that the struggle to improve our learning and working conditions are inextricably linked. We would like to thank everyone who has joined the struggle against the forces of disinvestment and quiet resignation that have kept CUNY down for too long.

The 7K or Strike campaign is looking ahead to broaden our vision for CUNY. Despite their promises, we have no confidence that PSC leadership will mount the kind of campaign necessary to confront the crush of austerity in the next contract negotiation. The 2019-2020 budget for the PSC which was passed last week showed no increases to the organizing budget, a sign that PSC does not intend to do anything differently to activate the membership. They will almost certainly hew to the same defeatist strategy that produced the poverty contract that was just ratified. We will not sit back and wait for them to demobilize us. We will continue to organize across CUNY to build an even greater rank-and-file movement – one that is capable of winning a decent contract for ALL members and a people’s university for the city of New York. We invite all PSC members to contact campus stewards from 7K or Strike as we plan the next stage of our fight. 

In solidarity and continued struggle,
$7K or Strike