June 13, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – The City University of New York has finally taken action this week to help lift the wages of thousands of dedicated staffers who have spent the entire decade, thus far, without a contract and struggling to make ends meet. Thousands of other CUNY faculty and staffers, however, are still waiting for their own fair contract to be realized.
The tentative labor pact that District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO has formed with CUNY administrators provides about 12,000 union employees with a 10.4 percent retroactive wage increase going back to November 1, 2009.
DC37 Executive Director Harry Garrido issued a statement lauding state and city officials for helping fund the increases. The new agreement is reportedly consistent with DC37’s municipal contracts covering its 100,000 members woking in hospitals, libraries, museums, cultural institutions and other city entities.
“We thank Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Heastie and Chancellor Milliken for the hard work and leadership that helped secure this agreement, and we thank the members of DC 37, who provide the vital support services that help make CUNY one of the finest public institutions of higher learning in the country,” Garrido said. “Today, their patience and commitment bore fruit with an agreement that truly helps provide them with the economic certainty that had been elusive for too long.”
Once ratified, the union’s tentative labor pact also promises $1,000 bonuses and an annual $200 increase to the welfare fund for all active and retired employees.
SEIU Local 3 and the New York State Nurses Association have also reached new agreements with CUNY under similar terms, as well.
“Our dedicated CUNY employees represented by District Council 37 provide invaluable service to the entire University community,” CUNY Chancellor James Milliken said in a statement. “Through the negotiating process, we successfully reached an equitable settlement that delivers increased compensation and benefits for our outstanding workforce.”
Fed up CUNY staffers frustrated with Milliken’s inability to put a fair contract on the table until now, have spent the last two years criticizing the chief administrator and the university system’s “sweatshop-like” conditions.
CUNY professors, for example, earn roughly $26,000 less than their counterparts at Rutgers University, according to figures reflecting average academic salaries at the time the last contract expired back in 2009. Adjunct professors have it even worse. Although they teach half of all of CUNY’s courses, adjuncts have no permanent relationship to the university. Many struggle to pay rent, and some must even rely on public assistance to get by.
Students, meanwhile, have had to grapple with ever-increasing tuition coasts over the last several years. Half of the student body comes from households earning less than $30,000 a year.
This week, Milliken said he looks forward to reaching an agreement with the Professional Staff Congress, as well as other unions representing CUNY faculty and staff — “soon.”
PSC-CUNY members have already voted overwhelming to authorize a strike should that agreement fail to materialize.
DC17’s new agreement with CUNY is good through January 31, 2017.