Chairman for the Professional Staff Congress chapter at Brooklyn College and English professor James Davis explains that the new contract for City University of New York professors is a step in the right direction.
The contract was announced during the summer break on June 16th. Professor Davis did not deny the flaws in the new contract; he says that it was a step in the right direction after a long journey of negotiations. The new contract was a result of a compromise between City University of New York (CUNY) and the Professional Staff Congress (PSC). CUNY offered them a six percent raise over the period of six years, while the PSC wanted a 14 percent increase. Professor Davis explained that the settlement, which is a 10.4 percent raise, isn’t a complete loss. He says that this was a result of many negotiations and a massive protest in front of the chancellor’s office.
The PSC has won many new provisions, including professional advancements for higher education officers. Davis says that this provides job security for a lot of faculty members. Adjunct professors who have taught at least two classes in the same department for five years will now have job stability provisions and are eligible for a three-year appointment. The contract also includes adjunct health care improvements.
The tuition freeze shouldn’t effect the new contract. In fact, Professor Davis calls the belief that schools can only generate revenue from higher tuition a myth. He explained that tuition goes back to the state and does not stay at the school. In order for CUNY to stay true to its mission, which is serving low-income students, CUNY schools need more funding from the state.
Professor Davis jokingly said that he would buy his “third yacht” with the new money he will receive from the 10.4 percent raise. He then explained that this is the money they should’ve already received and it has been kept from professors. He said that many professors will most likely spend the extra money on student loans, they won’t be buying any new “houses in the Hamptons.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo was also very strong in his action when it came to cutting CUNY budgets. The governor and state assembly refused to allow raises for CUNY professors. “If he [Governor Cuomo] really wants to be a champion for the middle class, he should invest in the city’s school,” said Professor Davis.
Students have been pretty supportive when it came to standing up with teachers in the fight for the raise. Professor Davis explained how five (now) six years without a contract can really hurt students. If CUNY wants to keep running on cheap labor from professors and adjunct professors they need to pay their professors decent salaries, so they can have an affordable living in New York.
Davis explained that their (PSC) main focus for the future is to improve adjunct provisions and to keep CUNY affordable for students. He believes the PSC needs to be more effective with impressing elected officials and other interest groups to achieve better accomplishments for their faculty.