New York City
The Professional Staff Congress (American Federation of Teachers Local 2334) represents 30,000 full and part-time faculty and staff at the City University of New York and its Research Foundation. Its contract with CUNY expired 10 months ago, but a wrinkle in New York’s Taylor Law keeps the provisions of the expired contract in force.
The Taylor Law also prohibits strikes and job actions.
Since CUNY is jointly funded by New York state and New York City — an unusual arrangement in the United States — the PSC’s protests target both. On Dec. 2, over 1,000 PSC members, plus CUNY students and members of other unions representing CUNY workers, including mechanics and plumbers, showed up at Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office in midtown Manhattan.
It was not just a picket line. The workers held a “Sing Out, Shout Out!” action to advocate “For real raises! For better benefits! For Job Security! For pay equity! For remote work opportunities! For promotional opportunities!”
The Sing Out had the old union standards like “Solidarity Forever” and “Which Side Are You On?” but also “Union Made For CUNY” — a lyrical adaptation of a Woody Guthrie tune — and other topical songs. In addition to the above demands, the union pushed for free tuition, better counseling, more full-time faculty and staff, and fixing CUNY’s crumbling buildings.
Performers included: New York City Labor Chorus, Radical Evolution, PSC First Vice President Andrea Vásquez, Local 802 American Federation of Musicians House Band and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra.
The PSC has defended faculty members who publicly supported the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and Palestine, but unfortunately, other than a few handmade signs, the issue wasn’t visible at the contract protest.
During the week of Dec. 5, the PSC is projecting tabling and leafleting throughout the city to build popular support for CUNY and its unions.