Category: Blog (Page 3 of 8)

Open Letter to CUNY Union Pres. Barbara Bowen

Adjunct Project logo

To sign this letter, please visit its new site here and leave a comment with your academic affiliation (if you have one). 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

$5K Per Course Must Be Bottom-Line Contract Demand

Adjunct Project logo

To sign this call, please visit its new site here and leave a comment with your name and CUNY affiliation(s). Thanks!

What is needed is to take steps that concretely improve the situation of the majority of the instructional staff suffering the effects of the two-tier labor system. The Professional Staff Congress has formally endorsed the national campaign calling for a minimum starting salary of $5000 per three-credit semester course. We hereby call on the PSC leadership to make a formal commitment that the $5K demand will be a bottom-line demand in the current contract negotiations. Any proposed contract that does not include this should be rejected out of hand.

We invite all our fellow union members to sign and help circulate this call.

Signed by:

Makeba Lavan, Graduate Center, CUNY

Erica Chutuape, Hunter College, CUNY

Sándor John, Hunter College, CUNY

Jennifer Chancellor, Graduate Center, CUNY

Sean M. Kennedy, Graduate Center, CUNY

Luke Elliott, Graduate Center, CUNY

Cindy Gorn, CUNY

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

Elizabeth Bidwell Goetz, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY

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

Velina Manolova, Graduate Center, CUNY

Elizabeth Sibilia, Graduate Center, CUNY

Wendy Tronrud, Graduate Center, CUNY

Dadland Maye, Graduate Center, CUNY

Öykü Tekten, Graduate Center, CUNY

R. Josh Scannell, Graduate Center, CUNY

Preeti Sampat, Graduate Center, CUNY

Peter Matt, Brooklyn College, CUNY

Debangshu Roychoudhury, Graduate Center, CUNY

Monique Whitaker, Hunter College, 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

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

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

Michael A. Rumore, 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

Alan Trevithick, La Guardia Community College, CUNY

Ann Kottner, York College, CUNY

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

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

Dominique Nisperos, Graduate Center, CUNY

Amanda Matles, Graduate Center, CUNY

Lavelle Porter, City Tech and  Graduate Center, CUNY

Lauren Tenley, College of Staten Island, CUNY

Mary N. Taylor, Graduate Center, CUNY

Edwin Mayorga, Graduate Center, CUNY

Charlotte Thurston, Graduate Center, CUNY

Robin Hizme, Queens College, CUNY

Wilson Sherwin, Brooklyn College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Mark Drury, Graduate Center, CUNY

Anton Borst, Hunter College, Graduate Center, CUNY

Jason Schulman, Lehman College, CUNY

Wilma Borrelli, Lehman College, CUNY

Daniel Nieves, City College and Lehman College, 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

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

Michael Friedman, Queens College, CUNY

Heather Heim, Lehman College, CUNY

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,  Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY

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

Emily Nell, Graduate Center, CUNY

Brenden Beck, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Brandon Kreitler, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

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

Anthony Galluzzo, Queens College, CUNY

David Parsons, Baruch College, CUNY

Kelly Eckenrode, Lehman College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Danny Sanchez, Queens College, CUNY

Michelle Chen, Graduate Center, CUNY

Jennifer Hayashida, Hunter College, CUNY

Hayley Figueroa, Brooklyn College,  CUNY

Arto Artinian, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

Rebecca Fullan, Graduate Center, CUNY

Aaron Botwick, Graduate Center, CUNY

Gerhard Joseph, Lehman College, CUNY

A.W. Strouse, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Casandra Murray, Hunter College, CUNY

Luis H. Francia, Hunter College, CUNY

Noé Dinnerstein, John Jay College, CUNY

Douglas A. Medina, Baruch College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Peter Ranis, Graduate Center, CUNY

Jacquelyn Libby, Baruch College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Saadia Toor, College of Staten Island, CUNY

Howard Pflanzer, Bronx Community College, CUNY

Yvonne Groseil, Hunter College, CUNY

Union VP for Part-Time Personnel Responds; Our Reply

Yesterday at 6:32 p.m., the CUNY union’s vice-president for part-time personnel, Marcia Newfield, responded to the 121 of us (and counting–read and sign the letter here!) calling for the union to represent adjuncts and graduate student workers. She sent her response to a group of organizers of the COCAL conference this August, of which the Adjunct Project coordinators are a part.

My response to Marcia, on behalf of the 121 of us, follows her statement.

It’s day for since we sent the letter to the union president, Barbara Bowen, and she still hasn’t responded.

Dear Colleagues,

I encourage you not to sign it. Not only is [the] letter full of untruthful statements, but it is unfairly critical of Barbara’s efforts to support a fight for increased funding for CUNY. The PSC’s proposal for increased investment in CUNY as delivered to the City Council by Bowen on May 7th, specifies that “a substantial number of the new positions be designated for existing part-time faculty.” The 5,000K campaign came after the contract demands were ratified by the DA. Right now, I am too busy handling adjunct grievances and trying to help in the fasting adjunct’s plight to go into a point-by- point refutation. I understand the frustration that all underpaid workers feel since I am one, but in order to productively engage in a dialogue I think we need to come from a place of trust.

Marcia

Thank you for this response, Marcia.

There are now 121 of us from across CUNY and the U.S. calling for representation of adjuncts and graduate student workers at the Professional Staff Congress. Join us:

http://bit.ly/RWbXaa

One of the asks in the letter is that the union cover the registration costs of 30 CUNY adjuncts and graduate student workers to attend COCAL.

It’s been four days since Barbara first received the letter and she has yet to respond.

Rank-and-file union democracy now!

Statement by Long-Term CUNY Adjunct Re Open Letter

As a long-term adjunct at the College of Staten Island, I too am aware of the needs of adjuncts and graduate assistants.

While I would have written [the open] letter with a few different words, I agree with the sentiment.

I too have written about the union’s lack of democratic qualities, and for sometime now.

Specifically, an organized click runs the union and they demonstrate a total lack of imagination in how democracy can empower virtually the entire community.

For example, the executive committee runs our union, not the designated power of our union, the Delegate Assembly. In other words, they worship centralized power.

Consequently, the union leadership operates under the same principles as the right-wingers: they believe that power is all that matters; ethics and right/wrong are for thinkers, not doers.

The PSC union leadership is truly out of touch when the President of the union can say that the problem of inequality can be addressed (in NYC) at CUNY, or more broadly (in the U.S.) through the U.S. university system. Both are a good place to start, but radically more would be needed in either case.

However, this matter is symptomatic of a much larger problem.

The PSC leadership, as you know, claims or intimates that it is on the left of the political spectrum. But unfortunately, our union leadership does as the left so often assumes: we must mimic the right in order to win.

Accordingly, the strategy is not to bring all of us in the union together, but typically to divide and conquer, while throwing a few bones to the crowds (formally known as tokenism in Political Science). Andrea mentioned the bones.

Unfortunately, the PSC’s leadership demonstrates once more (as in countless other cases) the failure of the left to live up to its ideals. I understand that this is not a simple matter, but it needed to be said nevertheless.

Finally, stressing $5K per course really does not get to the heart of the matter. Job security does.

Harry T. Cason,

Adjunct, College of Staten Island, CUNY

Day 3–No Response from CUNY Union Pres.

Tuesday at 3:40 p.m. I sent an open letter to Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, CUNY’s union, with the subject line “Open letter re your De Blasio statement & your exclusion of adjuncts and graduate student workers.” I copied the union’s first vice-president, treasurer, vice-president for part-time personnel, and executive director on the email, all people we Adjunct Project coordinators have worked with, or attempted to work with, this academic year. I also copied 11 of the 12 members of the newly reconstituted (and elected) Graduate Center chapter slate, omitting one member because I couldn’t find an email for that person. Finally, I copied two higher education officers (HEOs) at the Graduate Center, one of whom is a cross-campus officer for the union, both of whom, working together, put together the Graduate Center slate (with no input solicited from the Adjunct Project).

There was one response from these 18 people by 3:30 p.m. today, from Andrea A. Vazquez, the aforementioned cross-campus officer who serves on the union’s executive council. You can see her response, and my reply on behalf of the letter co-signers, here.

I am now sending the letter again to the aforementioned recipients, along with the names and affiliations of the 77 co-signers.

The union leaders and chapter leaders are supposed to represent us. It’s not the other way around.

To co-sign the letter, please visit here.

There are now 77 of us.

Union Exec. Council Member Responds; Our Reply

Today at 11:14 a.m., a member of the CUNY union’s executive council, Andrea A. Vazquez, responded to the 77 of us (and counting–read and sign the letter here!) calling for the union to represent adjuncts and graduate student workers. She sent her response to two listservs: one for the Graduate Center General Assembly, the other for NYC-wide student activists.

My response to Andrea, on behalf of the 77 of us, follows her statement.

It’s day three since we sent the letter to the union president, Barbara Bowen, and she still hasn’t responded.

Sean,

I write as long time Graduate Center HEO and a PSC activist for six years. While I am most involved in the HEO chapter, I am also a member of the PSC executive council and on the current contract bargaining team. I say this because, despite of our chapter membership, for the past few years my colleague Bob Nelson (HEO delegate) and I have attended many GC student events, actions, and meetings. Many of these efforts have been exciting, important and have received the support of full time faculty, staff, other students, and the PSC. I am glad to have been supportive of many of those activities and glad, too, that at those events I witnessed a very different spirit of collaborative struggle for a better CUNY than you express in your message. As you point out, you are fairly new in your position and you express “great dismay” at President Bowen’s statement. Unfortunately, you are failing to see the larger picture and are ignoring the history and the facts as they relate to adjuncts and the union. The letter seems to presume that if you declare it, that makes it true. This is an especially unfortunate occurrence in a University.  This is the case throughout your letter but perhaps the most glaring example of such oversight is the absence of any interrogation of contracts negotiated over the past fourteen years and your simultaneous willingness to declare that adjuncts have not been a priority of this leadership. For example, in the past two contracts, adjunct faculty have received at the top step greater wage increases, paid office hours, professional development funds, and more. Much remains to be done, including securing higher salaries, stabilization of health benefits, longer appointments, and job security, but it is also in the interest of CUNY, its undergraduate students and adjuncts that we fight for a significant increase in the number of full time CUNY faculty hired across the system. We still suffer from the drastic cuts imposed on CUNY in the 1970s and when we increase the number of full-time faculty that also increases job opportunities for adjunct faculty and for new CUNY PhDs. (Every issue of Clarion is available online and the work of adjunct activists, PSC adjunct leaders, organizers, and liaisons receives a full and accurate reporting there.)

It is unfortunate that you did not attend last week’s meeting of Graduate Center PSCers. Over 100 attended, including full-time faculty, adjunct faculty, graduate teaching fellows, HEOs, CLTs, and Research Foundation employees from all Graduate Center locations and offices. President Bowen and PSC Treasurer Michael Fabricant spent nearly two hours speaking and responding to all questions posed by members in an open, honest, informed, and respectful manner, including those from your fellow adjuncts and graduate teaching fellows about the union’s adjunct contract demands, demands that were in fact developed when our contract expired in October 2010. PSCers from every unit responded with renewed enthusiasm and support for the contract fight that is heating up.

On President Bowen’s statement that you criticized, I’d emphasize that highlighting the need for “full time hires and student support staff” in no way precludes the other urgent contract demands we put forth. While the PSC continues to prioritize adjunct issues, I’d also point out that there are many other PSC constituencies that require and receive the attention of the contract negotiation team. Another contract priority, for example, relates to the HEO non-promotional series. Many in the Assistant to HEO line, for example, are stuck at the top of their pay scale with no structure in place for advancement, save “reclassification,” which is a difficult process. Workload issues for full time faculty, especially at the community colleges, are also a top priority.

As we discussed at last week’s GC meeting, in order to be strong and successful, we must devote sufficient time to understanding the myriad issues that face our diverse membership and then organize and stand united. Of course, it’s not simple but without that plan and shared vision we stand little chance of succeeding. In lieu of claiming poor representation (adjunct faculty are well represented on the PSC Executive Council and on the contract negotiations team), and planning to confront and force the leadership and the union’s elected delegate assembly representatives to do as you wish, I’d ask you to adopt a more comradely and respectful tone in your communication and participation with the union. You not only do a disservice to the PSC leadership by your accusations, you also divide the union membership at a moment in our contract negotiations when solidarity is essential.

Andrea A. Vasquez

Thank you for your response, Andrea, but our letter, with 70+ signatories and counting, is to Barbara as president of the union.

There are three issues we asked her to redress, and a fourth: the gratis attendance of 30 adjuncts and graduate student workers at this summer’s COCAL at John Jay College being organized by the PSC.

Today is day three since the letter was sent to Barbara and she still has not responded.

You speak to none of the four issues in the letter here.

It’s the union’s job to represent us. It’s not the other way around.

We are holding the union accountable. We want real, rank-and-file democracy.

Regards,

Sean

To read and sign the letter, please click here.

Day 2–No Response from CUNY Union Pres.

Yesterday at 3:40 p.m. I sent an open letter to Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, CUNY’s union, with the subject line “Open letter re your De Blasio statement & your exclusion of adjuncts and graduate student workers.” I copied the union’s first vice-president, treasurer, vice-president for part-time personnel, and executive director on the email, all people we Adjunct Project coordinators have worked with, or attempted to work with, this academic year. I also copied 11 of the 12 members of the newly reconstituted (and elected) Graduate Center chapter slate, omitting one member because I couldn’t find an email for that person. Finally, I copied two higher education officers (HEOs) at the Graduate Center, one of whom is a cross-campus officer for the union, both of whom, working together, put together the Graduate Center slate (with no input solicited from the Adjunct Project).

There had been no response from any of these 18 people by 3 p.m. today.

I sent the letter again to the aforementioned recipients at 3:11 p.m., along with the names and affiliations of the 44 co-signers.

As of the time of this writing, there has still been no response.

The union leaders and chapter leaders are supposed to represent us. It’s not the other way around.

To co-sign the letter, leave a comment here (with your affiliation) or email me at kennedy [dot] sean [at] gmail [dot] com.

There are now 60 of us.

Our 20th-Anniversary Celebration, THIS FRIDAY!

AP 20th Anniv. flyerFrom Vinny Tirelli’s Graduate Center dissertation, The Invisible Faculty Fight Back: Contingent Academic Labor and the Political Economy of the Corporate University (2007):

“Aside from the direct union activism that was growing at this time, there were other threads that tied into the maelstrom of academic labor politics, and which contributed to the growing awareness of the class conflicts that embroiled CUNY. For instance, in the fall of 1993, [the DSC] founded the…Adjunct Project. The key difference between the Adjunct Project and previous efforts by the DSC to support adjunct activism was that now the activities were funded with a paid coordinator, as well as other resources such as a phone, an office, a computer, etc.” (318).

Though fall 2013 has passed, it’s still the same academic year and, thus, still occasion to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this remarkable organization. We hope you’ll join us in doing so this Friday, 2:30-4:30p, in room 5414 of the GC (365 5th Avenue).

 

Why Krugman Should Earn $36K (If Not a $1)

Since posting my critique of Paul Krugman’s terms of hire at the CUNY Graduate Center, I took the time to collect some data on what CUNY’s distinguished professors—the rank Krugman will have—typically make.

As collectively bargained by the Professional Staff Congress, CUNY’s faculty and staff union, distinguished professors earn a bonus of $25,878 above their salary as a full professor, the highest step of which is $116,364. That equals a total salary of $142,242, a figure roughly borne out by a random search of GC distinguished professors’ salaries in publicly available data (which yields an average salary of $156,490, a higher rate due to additional earnings from, say, directing a center). Given that base figure, then, Krugman is to be paid 58% more than the union-CUNY stipulated rate for distinguished professors.

Furthermore—and this part is key—Krugman will only have to teach one seminar a year after his first year at the GC, for a total of one unit, while the “usual workload” for distinguished professors, to quote from GC interim president Chase Robinson’s offer letter to Krugman, “would be four units; one course equals one unit, and a total of five tutorials and/or dissertation advisements equal one unit.” Instead of providing this additional instructional labor, however, Krugman is to “play a modest role in our public events” and “contribute to our build-up of LIS and the inequality initiative,” which are also his sole responsibilities in his first year at the GC. In other words, Krugman is being paid a premium for his prestige: to show up at events, provide visibility to the Luxembourg Income Study Center, and to generally raise the profile—that is, publicize—the GC and its inequality initiative (whatever that is exactly). Meanwhile, the inequality at the GC goes unaddressed. Indeed, the terms of Krugman’s hire contribute to it: a 58% higher salary for 75% less instructional labor.

This analysis underscores Krugman’s ethical obligation to lower his salary—if not to a $1 (the rate CUNY’s previous celebrity hire, David Petraeus, makes) than at least to a rate that reflects his atypical instructional load: $35,560.50, or 25% of the mandated salary for CUNY distinguished professors. He could then direct the discrepancy between that figure and his offered salary of $225,000—$189,439.50—to be used in support of GC students and/or CUNY adjuncts, as GC alum James Hoff has rightly suggested.

The point? People should not be paid for their prestige. They should be paid for their labor, and at an equitable rate relative to other workers.

Progress on Late Pay (?)

As you might recall, in December last year, members of The Adjunct Project met with various administrators at The Graduate Center to discuss possible solutions to the longstanding late pay crisis within CUNY. One of the promises made at that meeting was that the Provost’s Office was going to request a meeting between representatives of The Adjunct Project and HR staff from the GC and other CUNY colleges at the Central Office in early 2014. The goal would be to impress upon those responsible for submitting Adjunct paperwork the importance of doing so on time and work with them to identify and prevent potential hindrances to doing so.

We have just learned that these meetings did occur (without us), resulting in a set of “best practices” to ensure that adjuncts will be paid on time in the future. In case you don’t have time to read the entire memo, there are two key points and one major caveat.

First, each college has been asked to appoint one person who will be responsible for overseeing all steps of the adjunct pay process to ensure timely payment.

Second, in cases of late hire, colleges are directed to inform the affected adjuncts when they will be paid and that they are eligible for an advance.

However, it is important to note that adopting these policies is voluntary: “The college may adopt these procedures or develop its own, but every effort should be made to ensure that adjunct faculty are paid promptly.” While it is encouraging that CUNY Central is taking measures to address the late pay problem, the optional nature of this program at the individual college level is troubling. We sincerely hope that none decide to interpret “every effort” as “we’re already doing everything we can.” We’ll be watching.

 

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