Tag Archives: Professional Staff Congress

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Day 78–No Response from CUNY Union Pres. But Progress on One of the Letter’s Asks

It has now been 78 days since union president Barbara Bowen and 17 other union and Graduate Center (GC) chapter leaders have received the open letter, with no response from Bowen. We’re currently at 186 signatories.

In significant news, however, there’s now progress on one of the asks in the letter: the change in chapter-affiliation policy for graduate student workers. Adjunct Project (AP) coordinators Jenn Chancellor, Luke Elliott, and I met with the union’s executive director, Debbie Bell, first vice-president, Steve London, and treasurer, Mike Fabricant, on Monday, June 30th, at the union’s office near Wall St. to discuss the AP’s proposal. Whether this meeting occurred in part because of the letter campaign is hard to say—as the letter itself mentions, the AP submitted our proposal way back in December—but we tend to think the campaign had something to do with finally making the meeting happen. We met again today with Bell and Fabricant, along with GC chapter chair Michael Handis, officer Penny Lewis, and a few Doctoral Students’ Council officers, to firm up the details as we head toward the beginning of the fall semester.

The union’s current policy on graduate-student-worker affiliation is that the campus on which you provide instructional labor determines what chapter you affiliate with, regardless of whether you’re paid by the GC (via a graduate fellowship) or by that particular campus (as an adjunct). Our proposal was to allow all graduate student workers at the GC, regardless of the campus on which they provide instructional labor or the source of their wages, to affiliate with the chapter of their choice: either the GC or the campus on which they provide instructional labor, whether as an adjunct or as a fellow. The basic rationale was that our student status and our instructional-labor status as GC students cannot be separated given the large inequities in fellowship funding at the GC—and, thus, that if one is adjuncting at a CUNY campus, as opposed to being an instructional fellow there, the need to adjunct is directly determined by the inequitable distribution of resources by the GC (and CUNY).

The union’s counter proposal, in turn, met us halfway: union leadership has agreed to give all GC students on fellowships the choice of which campus to affiliate with, the GC or the one at which they provide instructional labor, but they will not budge on giving adjuncting GC students the same choice. We spent more than an hour discussing their reasons for this decision and offering our counter reasons, but they were adamant, mostly for reasons of litigation concern (owing to litigation they were entangled with several years ago after an insurgent, albeit right-wing, party contested the executive-slate election and lost) and impressions of unfairness, since graduate student workers at other campuses would not also be able to have a choice in chapter affiliation.

We agreed to go forward with their proposal, to which they added the offer of forming a standing committee of the union’s executive council dedicated to graduate-student-worker issues and composed of graduate student workers from across CUNY. Altogether, we’ll be able to build graduate-student-worker power in close proximity to the union’s leadership body at the same time we build it at the GC under the new chapter-affiliation policy.

Bell, London, and Fabricant suggested both the policy change and the standing-committee proposal could go before the union’s Delegate Assembly (the legislative body) for approval at its late-September meeting, and Bell and Fabricant confirmed that timeline again at today’s meeting. We’re glad to be working with them on this initiative, though we remain committed to the two remaining asks in the open letter (the union having not provided free registration to CUNY adjuncts for next week’s COCAL XI conference. Instead, please join us at #altCOCAL next Wednesday from 1:30p).

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Open Letter to CUNY Union Pres. Barbara Bowen

To sign this letter, leave a comment with your name here. Please include your affiliation, whether CUNY or another institution—all are welcome in this effort to hold the union leadership accountable at the largest university by enrollment in the U.S.! Real democracy now!

Dear Barbara—

I write as a union member and CUNY contingent faculty member to express my great dismay at your statement of May 9th praising Mayor De Blasio for his CUNY budget and singling out “full-time faculty and student support staff” as needing “investments” while entirely omitting mention of adjuncts and graduate student workers.

In addition to the questionable negotiating strategy of such mayoral sycophancy—and your bizarre contention that CUNY is the “solution” to “inequality,” when CUNY reproduces, and contributes to, the inequality of New York City at large—I don’t understand how you could ignore the needs of adjuncts and graduate student workers, who teach the vast majority of classes at CUNY and are the majority of union members and agency-fee payers. Furthermore, I don’t understand how full-time faculty need “investments” more than adjuncts and graduate student workers, who make a pittance compared to full-time faculty, work under worse conditions, and lack job security. What kind of message does this send at negotiating time?

Indeed, it seems to me that any “investments” in faculty the union wins from the city should go to adjuncts and graduate student workers and not to full-time faculty, given the extreme inequality between contingent faculty and full-time—inequality that has occurred in large part because of the priority full-time faculty have received by union leadership since the beginning of the Professional Staff Congress and which, quite evidently, continues under your leadership.

I wish I could say your out-of-touch statement is an aberration, but unfortunately it conforms to the sense so many of us adjuncts and graduate student workers at CUNY have about the union’s neglect of us and our issues. It’s certainly been clear to me in my tenure this academic year as an Adjunct Project coordinator, in which you and your leadership team have either ignored or outright stymied our efforts for greater union representation of adjuncts and graduate student workers and our issues.

Union leadership has been unable to respond to or move forward our simple request from December that adjuncts and graduate student workers have a choice of which chapter to affiliate with; our demands for the bargaining agenda were sat on by you, also since December, until a meeting with my colleagues on April 10th, and we’ve received no follow-up from you, including on your promise to include adjuncts and graduate student workers in the bargaining meetings; and our newly reconstituted Graduate Center chapter—an initiative the Adjunct Project proposed at its October 2013 organizing meeting—contains only two student workers on its slate of 12.

Meanwhile, the UFT deal, which will set a precedent for the rest of the city’s bargaining units, including our own, has been heavily critiqued by the Movement for Rank and File Educators caucus, which is waging a struggle against an entrenched, monopolistic party much like the New Caucus, which commands every (or nearly every) chapter of the PSC. At the moment, I feel more allegiance to MORE than I do to our union, given your De Blasio statement and inaction on the above issues.

I am hoping you will find this letter jarring enough to immediately redress these issues, at least the ones you have full control over: namely, the addition of our demands to the bargaining agenda, the inclusion of adjuncts and graduate student workers in the bargaining meetings, and the change in chapter-affiliation policy.

Furthermore, to enable the participation of CUNY adjuncts and graduate student workers in this summer’s COCAL conference, which is being organized by the PSC and taking place at CUNY’s John Jay College, I ask that the union cover the $250 registration fee for 30 adjuncts and graduate student workers at CUNY.

I look forward to your response, Barbara. If you don’t respond, however, I will not write again, as it shouldn’t be my job to convince you of the merits, ethics, and fairness of genuine union democracy and the concomitant representation of adjuncts and graduate student workers and our needs.

Very sincerely,

Sean M. Kennedy, Graduate Center, CUNY

Elizabeth Sibilia, Graduate Center, CUNY

Wendy Tronrud, Graduate Center, CUNY

Dadland Maye, Graduate Center, CUNY

Öykü Tekten, Graduate Center, CUNY

Erica Kaufman, Institute for Writing & Thinking, Bard College

R. Josh Scannell, Graduate Center, CUNY

Preeti Sampat, Graduate Center, CUNY

Peter Matt, Brooklyn College, CUNY

Margaret Hanzimanolis, City College of San Francisco, De Anza College, Cañada College, California Part-Time Faculty Association

Debangshu Roychoudhury, Graduate Center, CUNY

Jack Longmate, Olympic College

Monique Whitaker, Hunter College, CUNY

Anna Spiro, retired CUNY adjunct

Rafael A. Mutis, Hostos Community College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Jennifer Prince, Graduate Center, CUNY

Esther Bernstein, Graduate Center, CUNY

Héctor Agredano, City College, Bronx Community College, and Graduate Center, CUNY

Collette Sosnowy, JustPublics@365, Graduate Center, CUNY

Megan Paslawski, Graduate Center, CUNY

Kristen Hackett, Graduate Center, CUNY

Fang Xu, Lehman College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Christina Nadler, Graduate Center, CUNY

Kristin Moriah, Graduate Center, CUNY

James Anthony Phillips, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

Ana M. Fores Tamayo, Adjunct Justice

Tristan K. Husby, City College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Erin Michaels, Graduate Center, CUNY

Cameron Pearson, Queens College, CUNY

David Tillyer, City College, CUNY

Amy Martin, Graduate Center, CUNY

Colin P. Ashley, Doctoral Students’ Council Co-Chair for Business, Graduate Center, CUNY

Ian Foster, Graduate Center, CUNY

Derrick Gentry, alumnus, Graduate Center, CUNY

Melissa Phruksachart, Graduate Center, CUNY

Maureen E. Fadem, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

Alec Magnet, Graduate Center, CUNY

Erin M. Andersen, Graduate Center, CUNY

Ashna Ali, Graduate Center, CUNY

Jerry Levinsky, Member UALE, COCAL Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor

Michael A. Rumore, Graduate Center, CUNY

Makeba Lavan, Graduate Center, CUNY

Conor Tomás Reed, Medgar Evers College and Graduate Center, CUNY; Free University-NYC

Kathryn Moss, Graduate Center, CUNY

David Spataro, Graduate Center, CUNY

Kenneth H. Ryesky, Queens College, CUNY

Betsy Smith, Cape Cod Community College; member of MCCC, MTA, and NEA

Isabel Cuervo, alumna, Graduate Center, CUNY

Jennifer Chancellor, Graduate Center, CUNY

Luke Elliott, Graduate Center, CUNY

CUNY Adjunct Project

Alan Trevithick, La Guardia Community College, CUNY

Ann Kottner, York College, CUNY

Vanessa Vaile, Precarious Faculty Network

Mary Carroll, Lehman College, CUNY

Linda Neiberg, Baruch College, CUNY

Brian Unger, Graduate Center, CUNY

Ian Green, Graduate Center, CUNY

Eric Lott, Graduate Center, CUNY

John Sorrentino, John Jay College, CUNY

Hulya Sakarya, Mercy College

Allison E. Brown, Graduate Center, CUNY

Rayya El Zein, Medgar Evers College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Melissa K. Marturano, Brooklyn College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Ross Borden, SUNY–Cortland

Frank Reiser, Nassau Community College

Dominique Nisperos, Graduate Center, CUNY

Amanda Matles, Graduate Center, CUNY

Lavelle Porter, City Tech and Graduate Center, CUNY

Lauren Tenley, College of Staten Island and alumna, Graduate Center, CUNY

Mary N. Taylor, Graduate Center, CUNY

Edwin Mayorga, Graduate Center, CUNY

Charlotte Thurston, Graduate Center, CUNY

Robin Hizme, Queens College, CUNY

Sue Clark-Wittenberg, Director, International Campaign to Ban Electroshock

Wilson Sherwin, Brooklyn College and Graduate Center, CUNY

James D. Hoff, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

Mark Drury, Graduate Center, CUNY

Anton Borst, Hunter College, Graduate Center, CUNY

Jason Schulman, Lehman College, CUNY

Wilma Borelli, Lehman College, CUNY

Daniel Nieves, City College and Lehman College, CUNY

Elizabeth Bidwell Goetz, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Maria L. Plochocki, Baruch and College Now, CUNY

Sara Jane Stoner, Graduate Center, CUNY

Anna Gjika, Graduate Center, CUNY

Alicia Andrzejewski, Graduate Center, CUNY

Paul Hebert, Queens College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Patrick Reilly, Baruch College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Kara Van Cleaf, Graduate Center, CUNY

Harry T. Cason, College of Staten Island, CUNY

Kylah Torre, Graduate Center, CUNY

Kate O’Donoghue, Queens College, CUNY

Keith Hoeller, editor, Equality for Contingent Faculty; co-founder, Washington Part-Time Faculty Association

Karen Gregory, City College and Center for Worker Education, CUNY

Michael Friedman, Queens College, CUNY

Heather Heim, Lehman College, CUNY

Marnie Weigle, San Diego City College

Austin Bailey, Hunter College, CUNY

Leigh Somerville, Queens College, CUNY

Lindsey Freer, Macaulay Honors College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, Graduate Center, CUNY

Nathaniel Sheets, CUNY Graduate Center, Hunter College

Brianne Bolin, Columbia College Chicago

Sean Collins, trustee, Troy Area Labor Council

Meyer A. Rothberg, alumnus (1958), City College, CUNY

John Martin, chair, California Part-time Faculty Association

Jonathan R. Davis, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Marga Ryersbach, Queensborough Community College, CUNY

Andrew Akinmoladun, Bronx Community College, CUNY

Thomas Smith, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

Tyler T. Schmidt, Lehman College, CUNY

Sarah Davis, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Reid Friedson, Adjunct Faculty Union

Emily Nell, Graduate Center, CUNY

Jack Henning

Vakhtang Gomelauri, Global Center for Advanced Studies

Brenden Beck, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Brandon Kreitler, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

Alex Kudera, author, Fight for Your Long Day, Clemson University

Aysenur Ataman, College of Staten Island and Graduate Center, CUNY

Anthony Galluzzo, Queens College, CUNY

Jenna Gibbs, Florida International University

Ryan Daley, former NYCCT adjunct; Red Hook Initiative

David Parsons, Baruch College

Rebecca Schuman, all-purpose higher-ed loudmouth

Daniel Levine, alumnus (2013), Baruch College; writer

Stanley W. Rogouski

Kelly Eckenrode, Lehman College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Danny Sanchez, Queens College, CUNY; member, Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee

Michelle Chen, Graduate Center, CUNY

Carol Lipton

Michael Pollak

Aaron Botwick, Graduate Center, CUNY

Naja Berg Hougaard, Graduate Center, CUNY

Gerhard Joseph, Lehman College, CUNY

Catherine Liu, alumna, Graduate Center, CUNY; University of California–Irvine

Emma Myers, Borough of Manhattan Community College and City Tech, CUNY

Marimer Berberena, Hostos Community College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Seth Sanders, Trinity College

Evgeniya Koroleva, Graduate Center, CUNY

Johannes Burgers, Queensborough Community College, CUNY

Angelina Tallaj-Garcia, Graduate Center, CUNY

Alexander Chee

Sansanee Sermprungsuk

Angelo R. Dicuonzo, Baruch College, CUNY

Lisa Regula Meyer, Kent State University

Sonia Maldonado, Hostos Community College, CUNY

Natalie Yasmin Soto, alumna (‘09) Hunter College, former adjunct, Medgar Evers College, CUNY; NYC public high school teacher

Thomas Mintz, Queens College and Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

Gabrielle Kappes, Graduate Center, CUNY

Ralitsa Todorova, Graduate Center, CUNY

Leonard Dick

Joseph Brisendine, Graduate Center, CUNY

Alexander Baldassano, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Sarah Tosh, Brooklyn College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Mark Miller, Hunter College, CUNY

Stephanie M. Anderson, Graduate Center, CUNY

Cynthia Thompson, Baruch College, CUNY

Sounak Ghosh Roy, Queens College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Cat Chenal, City College, CUNY

Melissa J. Silvestrini, Queens College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Doug Singsen, alumnus, CUNY

Chet Jordan, Guttman Community College, CUNY

Harminder Kaur, CUNY

Rebecca Traynor, Graduate Center, CUNY

Hilarie Ashton, Queens College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Marisha Chinsky, spouse of CUNY adjunct/PhD student

Gustavo Gomez, Graduate Center, CUNY

Robert Ausch, Hunter College, CUNY

Debra Jenks, New Jersey City University

Ozge Savas, University of Michigan

Konstantinos Pouliasis, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY

David Palazzo, alumnus, Graduate Center, adjunct, York College, CUNY

L. E. Hunter, University of Michigan

Arnaud Gerspacher, Graduate Center, CUNY

Nozomi Kato, Medgar Evers College, CUNY

Marianna Shvartsapel, CunyStart, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

Jeremy Rayner, Hunter College, CUNY

Aaron Barlow, City Tech, CUNY

Leslie Shaw, CUNY

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