CUNY faculty and staff ratify new contract

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City University of New York's 25,000 faculty and professional staff will get a long-overdue raise now that 94 percent of voting members have ratified a new union contract. Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen thanked union members for their hard work and commitment, which resulted in an agreement between PSC and the CUNY administration that includes 10.41 percent in salary increases, retroactive pay for all employees, and important job security and healthcare provisions for adjuncts.

Professional Staff Congress signs"PSC members have never worked harder for a contract. Thanks to our militant membership the union was able to secure funding for back pay and wrest substantial gains out of CUNY management," says Bowen, who is an AFT vice president. "A 94 percent vote for ratification demonstrates that an overwhelming majority of members know that the contract they fought for will make a real difference in their professional lives and in their ability to serve CUNY students. We have a vision of a university that offers a first-rate education to New York's working people; the new contract is a step in advancing that vision."

It took a hard-fought, public contract campaign and strike authorization vote to win the salary increases. In addition to those increases, CUNY faculty and professional staff, who have worked for more than six years without a raise, will also receive a signing bonus and back pay—more than three times the back pay originally offered by CUNY.

But the campaign also built leverage the PSC needed to negotiate breakthrough provisions on adjunct job security and faculty workload and achieve other gains that will improve teaching and learning conditions at CUNY.

The contract consolidates gains won by the union between 2010 and the end of negotiations—including paid parental leave, increased funding for faculty research grants and premium-free individual health insurance for qualifying adjuncts. It also introduces the first-ever multi-year appointments for teaching adjuncts at CUNY. The health insurance and multi-year appointments represent major steps toward greater professionalism in the treatment of adjuncts. For the first time, CUNY adjuncts will have access to a system of job security, providing increased stability for academic departments and giving those on three-year appointments guaranteed income and accrued sick days. More than 86 percent of teaching adjuncts who took part in the ratification vote voted "yes."

Full-time faculty will now have a contractual commitment and a timetable to restructure their teaching loads to ensure that they have the time to mentor students and conduct research. Professional staff in "non-promotional" titles will gain opportunities for advances in pay and title.

"PSC members stuck together to demand a contract worthy of our work and supportive of CUNY's inspiring students," Bowen says. "Because of the campaign we mounted, the community and student support we galvanized, and the resounding vote to authorize a strike, we had the power to make substantial gains even in a period of enforced economic austerity. I am grateful for the members' strong support for ratification of the contract and eager to begin work on what remains to be done. If we stay organized and remain in solidarity, a better university is within our power—and our power will continue to grow."

[Professional Staff Congress press release]