Negotiations End Six Year Battle

Students and faculty rally outside of CUNY's Central Office on W. 42nd Street. Students and faculty rally outside of CUNY's Central Office on W. 42nd Street.
photo courtesy of: Fabiana Grosso

CUNY and its employees come to an agreement after fighting for a contract

BY Anthony Viola

During a meeting held on June 23, the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) voted 111 to 11, in favor of a proposed contract that will affect 25,000 employees, according to the CUNY website. The settlement was passed by the CUNY Board of Trustees four days later, on June 27. Now, the last step is to hold the ratification vote where all members of the PSC vote, expecting to occur between July 11 and August 3.

In late March, members of the PSC, CUNY’s largest union, protested on West 42nd street in front of CUNY’s central office. Those involved with the strike wore t-shirts and held up signs to show their support for a contract.

However, after strenuous fighting, CUNY employees and the Board of Trustees have finally come to an agreement.

The contract will provide a 10.41% salary raise over the course of seven years and one month, beginning in October 2010 and ending in November 2017. Full-time staff members who have gone without a raise for the duration of the six years will retroactively receive their payments. On top of that, full-time employees who sign the contract will receive a $1,000 bonus. PSC President Barbara Bowen claims the proposal will also allow for “significant structural changes that will fortify working and learning conditions at CUNY.”

Although there are several benefits to the contract, some faculty members believe that more should have been offered.

According to Alan Feigenberg, Chair of the PSC’s City College Chapter, “This contract does not adequately address what is needed and deserved by the faculty and staff.” He, like many of his colleagues, have taken a more realistic approach. “Our negotiation team worked arduously to make great strides forward from many regressive issues that were originally put forward by the CUNY Board of Trustees,” states Feigenberg.

Many professors can align with these claims. French Professor Sara Rychtarik believes that some aspects of the contract are good for some, but leaves out important features that affect other positions.

“It still fails adjuncts,” says Rychtarik. “Under the terms of the tentative contract, for example, adjuncts at the lowest end of the pay scale will still receive an incredibly low pay rate per course, while professors at the lowest end of the pay scale will see their salary increased by over $7,000 per year.”

Tammie David, vice chair on the City College NYPIRG Board of Directors, has been adamant towards fighting alongside the PSC and their right to a contract. Although she feels CUNY workers deserve more, she is relieved that all parties have finally come to a consensus.

“It goes to show that organizing is as effective as ever, and that education is not something that the state of New York will allow to put to the side,” says David.

Though the PSC has accomplished its goal of acquiring a contract, it continues to fight for better conditions for its members. As Feigenberg puts it, “We must continue these efforts to create a better working-learning environment for all of us, and most importantly, for a quality academic, intellectual, social and physical environment for our students.”

For more information about the PSC, their projects, and the contract itself, go to: http://www.psc-cuny.org/issues/campaign-new-cuny-contract

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