Written By: By Jordan Ramos & Dorette Dayan
PSC union members protested outside of the university’s main offices on Monday, Feb. 15, in reaction to the administration who they say violated their labor contract.
The CBA was a contract between employers and employees which dictates the different pay increases for different titles of employees. Staff members were informed by the university on Thursday, Feb. 11, the night before pay day, that their planned “equity raises” were to be delayed indefinitely.
“What we wanted to do is to come out in public and say we’re not going to stand for the administration that violated the contract and refused to pay these 2,600 people the raises that they agreed to back in 2019,” said Brooklyn College Chapter Chair, Professor James Davis.
Over 100 union members attended the protest. Because of the pandemic, the union members were very cautious, wearing double masks, not clustering, and not sharing a bullhorn. Throughout the pandemic, the union has had virtual rallies on Zoom, social media actions, electronic letters, car caravans, and masked in-person events such as this.
The denied raises are merely one example of the ways in which CUNY is cutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state and city have been scrutinizing CUNY resources for years now and the pandemic has accelerated the damage caused by disinvestment. For example, without enough money to hire enough full-time faculty, there has been an increase in the hiring of part-time adjunct professors. Adjunct professors are hired on a course-by-course basis and are paid about a third of what full-time professors are paid.
When the pandemic hit and the subsequent recession caused the state to withhold 20 percent of funding that was supposed to go to CUNY, the university laid off 2900 adjuncts. With less faculty members, the remaining professors are left to compensate for the extra work in order to provide for the students.
“We want to be able to do our jobs effectively, serve our students, and do the things that we were trained to do and what we love doing at CUNY,” Davis said. “The problem is that, especially during the pandemic, that has intensified some of the issues that were already underlying in terms of defunding the university. It’s not something that we can’t overcome, but it does require a lot of collaboration and kindness,” he continued.
CUNY has now received federal pandemic relief funds, and union members hope that the university will use this money wisely and appropriately.