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Vol. 27, No.4 December 27, 2005
AN OPEN LETTER TO BARBARA BOWEN
To: "Barbara Bowen" PSC2334@pscmail.org
I have been without a contract since October 2002. As soon as you show me evidence that unions representing the TWU (without a contract for LESS THAN A MONTH) and NYU workers walked a picket line for me then I will walk one for them. You should be using this time working hard on closure for a contract for us!!!! Where on earth is your priority and commitment to us at CUNY!!!!!
I am aware of all the ramifications involved in other major unions holding out for precedent-setting contracts but we at CUNY have been hurting in our pockets for over 3 years and your emails on "Contract Updates????" are extremely vague and are an insult to our intelligence. What exactly are the updates?????? That you are meeting etc. etc. etc. without actually sending out any real information on any REAL PROGRESS!!!!!!!!
There is no way, as you have previously stated, that sending proposed salary increases which have been agreed on by the union and CUNY, to the email listing will hurt the contract talks. That is speaking with the proverbial "forked tongue". In fact it will give us much-needed hope and we will actually begin to trust the union.
We at CUNY are an educated and dedicated group of people and know when we are being bamboozled with white-washed and extremely vague emails. Be real for once and tell us the truth even if you think it will hurt us, we have already concluded that we are not getting the promised salary increases that is why you are not sending out any actually figures and while the contributions to the Welfare Fund are extremely important we continue to pay more than 72% increases in prescription costs since 2002. I am not very optimistic that we will get much more funding in this area. Give us some facts --- do not continue to stall and continue to ask us to do the work for which you and your cohorts are being paid to do from our union dues!!!
I am sorry to reply to you in this vein but you may connect the dots from the above and see why I decided to respond now. Your email of December 20, 2005 about the so called success of the 1600 faxes to Chancellor Goldstein is certainly not a Contract Update. Stop insulting my intelligence. I can only assume and conclude that your loyalty lies elsewhere which is in the greater, very public area of unionism.
PS: For the record, I have been sending out emails, faxing, calling, picketing, attending meetings just in case you think that I have not been doing anything to help with the closure of this contract. This is also the FIRST TIME that we are in a situation where there is no contract for the bargaining period (October 2002 to September 2005) and are now in a period where another contract should have begun from October 2005 to ..........!!!!! Technically we are without two NOT one contract. You do the math.
By: An Anonymous Member of the PSC.
At the request of the writer, we have reproduced the above e-letter anonymously. This letter is so powerful and timely that we at The Patriot Returns felt that it should be shared with the entire membership of the PSC. Others at CUNY who would like to express their views through the electronic pages of The Patriot, should feel free to communicate with us. Final decisions on publication will, of course, be made by the Editor.
ROGER AND SHE
Faced with $1,000,000 a day in fines, stiff per capita penalties, and the grim prospects of spending a few nights in Tony O'Brien's time-share condo on Riker's Island, Roger Toussaint called off the TWU strike, and ordered his members back to work. Yet as he mounted the podium to face questions from the press and contempt from the public, he may have been wondering where his best bud, Barbara Bowen, had gone to.
Well before the TWU's members walked off the job, the PSC's Delegate Assembly had passed a strongly worded resolution supporting a transit strike. In an e-message of December 20th, Battlin' Barbara explained to all of us that "in defying the Taylor Law's regressive, punitive ban on strikes for public employee unions, TWU is helping to change the political climate in which all collective bargaining for public employees in New York takes place." Stanley Aronowitz, the PSC's resident pundit, described the striking transit workers as "the last best hope of New Yorkers," and suggested that "municipal labor gets emboldened and takes the example of the TWU Local 100." The PSC's support for their sisters and brothers was full throated, and appeared to be rock solid.
But that support seemed to have shifted by December 22nd. According to the New York Times, Barbara was among the dozen or so public sector union leaders who agreed with the TWU's demand that the pension issue should be removed from the talks. What the union leaders did not do, the Times reports, "was to declare support for the strike." So much it seems, for militant solidarity. The union leaders were worried that "fines, public anger, and contempt citations" could be disastrous. Talkin' trash about the Taylor Law is one thing. Payin' out cash for breaking it, another.
Now that Roger has suspended the class struggle for a while, what might the implications for the PSC be? Here at The Patriot Returns we do hope that the Dear Leader will recover from her revolutionary revelries, put down the picket signs, and head back to the bargaining table. If the public's support for the TWU's "job action" was weak, just imagine what the reaction to a shutdown of CUNY might be among the working New Yorkers who pay our salaries? And if the MTA, Mayor Bloomberg, and Governor Pataki were ready, willing, and able to call Jolly Roger's bluff, we can't wait to hear their replies to Barbara. "Go ahead, Professor, and make my day!" Nevertheless, we continue to worry that the New Caucus' collective death wish may be stronger than TWU's Local 100's desire to survive.
THE RUMOR COLUMN
When they return from their annual holiday cruise along the Gowanus Canal, Barbara and the Executive Committee can, if they so choose, sit down with the university's overly demonized management once more, and concentrate on a contract for us, rather than for the TWU. Or, they can continue to avoid the issues at hand, and divert their energy--if not our attention--to other matters. On January 9th, classes will resume at NYU, as will the work stoppage by some of that institution's teaching assistants. Barbara, Steve, Stanley, Susan and the rest will, we expect, head back to Washington Square and continue to perform guerilla theatre with their GSOC puppets.
Rumor has it that they will focus their efforts on this sideshow rather than admit to the membership that the "great contract" they've been promising for years can't, and won't, be delivered. Our sources within the inner sanctum of the PSC report that Barbara has been uncharacteristically closed mouth of late about the prospects for the "tentative agreement." Can it be that what she has described as a "framework" no longer stands? The Dear Leader has asked members of the DA to keep January 12th open for a special meeting, if needs be. Readers of The Patriot Returns should keep that date in mind.
In the event that, in President Bowen's words, "we need to take further action to bring the negotiations to a close," we trust that she'll be in touch with President Toussaint before making any dramatic moves. Presuming, of course, that Roger will return her calls. We also wonder when the Dear Leader's diversions fail to provide anything to the dues (and agency fee) payers, if she will, in a Toussaint-esque tone, thank the membership "for their patience and forbearance?" Don't bet your Metrocards on it.
Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.