CUNY Offer Results in Professor Blockade

Union Intensifies Push for Better Treatment

By Clifford Michel

Some 40 professors from PSC-CUNY, a union that represents faculty and staff, were arrested after they blocked the entrance to CUNY’s central office in Manhattan on November 4.

PSC-CUNY President Barbara Bowen and several other union members returned from a bargaining session with CUNY administrators, where an economic offer was offered for the first time, POLITICO New York reported.

CUNY’s offer didn’t include raises from 2011 through 2013, but included a one percent raise retroactive to April 2014, a one percent raise retroactive to April 2015, a three percent raise in April 2016, and finally a one percent raise in Oct. 2016, a CUNY spokesman told the news outlet.

Bowen, who was arrested for disorderly conduct along with her colleagues, spoke to a crowd of hundreds of protesters following the meeting, arguing that the offer failed to address a myriad of concerns by the union.

“The offer that they have made to us is far below the level of inflation. Therefore, it is in fact a salary cut,” said Bowen.

“It does not include addressing the full-time faculty teaching load, which keeps us from serving our students in the way we want to serve them.”

“It does not address the needs of adjuncts fully,” she continued. “It does not address our need for tuition waivers for our children. It does not address many, many of our other needs.”

The College of Staten Island chapter of the Professional Staff Congress has also been actively involved in the call for a new contract. About 100 professors, staffers, and students held a rally outside CSI’s performing arts center on October 22.

“I’ve seen the effects of not having a contract on teachers leaving, full-time faculty that go to other jobs, because they make more money and because conditions are better,” said Professor George Sanchez, president of PSC-CUNY’s CSI chapter. “We work too hard for too little at a CUNY campus.”

Bowen attended the rally and dismissed Chancellor Milliken’s repeated statements that settling a contract with the union is the university’s “highest priority.”

“I think the chancellor has not been vocal enough. He has said it’s his priority and I don’t doubt that,” said Bowen.

“But there’s a difference between doing that and waging a public campaign.”

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