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Vol. 30, No.3 March 22, 2006
FOLLOW THE DEAR LEADER
In our heart of hearts, we all know that the Dear Leader, PSC president "Battlin' Barb" Bowen, works tirelessly on our behalf. We're sure, in fact, that she spends 26 hours a day seeking to improve our fate. As she races from picket line to picket line . . . as she whisks off to Albany to alienate more state legislators . . . as she protests outside the Colombian consulate . . . as she considers the latest move in her stealth pro-Palestinian campaign . . . as (perhaps) she even finds a few minutes for "'round-the-clock" negotiating . . . the Dear Leader ponders the unfairness of it all, of an exploitative CUNY salary structure, of the fact that she receives more than $20,000 above any other CUNY associate professor at a comparable step . . .
(Well, maybe that last item isn't all that unfair: for her tactical brilliance in heading the last NYC municipal union to get a contract, no compensation would be enough for the Dear Leader.)
But what happens when the unthinkable occurs, when those for whom she tirelessly toils fail to appreciate her beneficence? New Caucus candidate Lorraine Cohen had the answer for professors: they'd be "forced to acknowledge that the leadership has done its best." Well, tenure is a wonderful thing, and as the Dear Leader discovered this past fall, she couldn't force CUNY faculty to launch an illegal strike. The unfairness of such ingratitude for her efforts!
Those lower on the totem pole are destined to serve as the Dear Leader's militant minions. Need strong arms to hold a picket sign at the Chancellor's residence? Call a CLT! Need deep lungs to verbally disrupt a BOT meeting? Summon a HEO! Need warm bodies to fill the hall at Cooper Union? Find some adjuncts!
REVOLT OF THE MASSES
Lately, however, some of these designated militant minions have started asking why the Dear Leader seems intent on ordering them around but ignoring their suggestions.
Adjuncts: No group has more reliably supported the Dear Leader than long-term adjuncts. The Part-Timers' Committee diligently prepared a list of final demands for the Dear Leader, only to find itself "extremely disappointed" and "dumbfounded" that her effort "seems to show so little concern for how adjuncts might respond to receiving so little after waiting so long. You spend far more energy trying to deal with what are solely full-timers' issues, . . . [and] we also have observed that there were some issues on which you refused to budge (such as the exemption of chairpersons from the union), and that none of our issues fell into that nonnegotiable category." The letter was ignored.
Adjuncts shall be seen, not heard from. The Dear Leader knows best.
HEOs: After "Battlin' Barb" blissfully rejected the administration's offer of a $500 payment for all full-time employees (what's $500 when you're making $20,000 above base salary?), HEOs protested that, as they aren't eligible for sabbaticals, this $500 was a meaningful benefit for them. This protest was immediately slapped down. The Dear Leader sent her hatchet-man, VP Steve "Foggy" London, to state that those who doubted her activities were "falling for the oldest trick in the book"---questioning the motives of their leaders.
HEOs shall be seen, not heard from. The Dear Leader knows best.
CLTs: As part of the Dear Leader's "union solidarity" campaign, the PSC has permitted "sister" unions to organize positions that long had been considered more appropriately filled by PSC-affiliated CLTs. And so, ignoring protests from longtime CLTs, the PSC stood idly by as IATSE organized Theatre Technician, Theatre Technician Specialist, and Lead Theatre Technician positions at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter, the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, and the Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture. Amazingly, the Dear Leader then asked the CLTs---whose input she had ignored---to monitor the agreement, to ensure compliance by CUNY and IATSE.
CLTs shall be seen, not heard from. The Dear Leader knows best.
THE RUMOR COLUMN:
Have "Luau Larry" Morgan and "High Livin'" Steve London Wiped Out the Welfare Fund?
The current election contest between the CUNY Alliance and the New Caucus has raised many questions, and generated a good deal of misunderstanding, across the university. Here at The Patriot Returns, hardly an hour goes by without our hearing about another example of malfeasance or instance of ill will. Collegiality and comity appear to be victims in this campaign. We can't keep up with, let alone track down, all the rumors that come over our e-transom. To be candid, we could use some help.
Among the more detailed, and distressing, rumors that we've encountered involve the Welfare Fund. From a variety of sources, we've heard serious charges of cronyism, incompetence, and have smelled whiffs of what might be construed as corruption. So that we can sort out truths from tall tales, we've decided to ask for help from Steve London, the man responsible for the well-being of the Welfare Fund. As regular readers of The Patriot Returns know, Steve keeps a close eye on these pages, and is quick to challenge and correct any errors we might make.
In that spirit, and in light of Steve's special expertise, we'd like to ask him the following questions. Though we know that Steve is pre-occupied with the New Caucus' "'round-the-clock negotiations," we're sure that he'll respond to us, as he always does.
Cronyism: Steve, we've heard some troubling rumors about hiring patterns at the Welfare Fund. We've been told, for example, that Larry Morgan, whom you hired as the Fund's administrator, was a good friend of yours. Fair enough---we all do favors for friends. But we've also heard that Larry was unemployed for a rather long period before joining the WF at a handsome salary (we hear it's around $115,000 annually---Steve sure takes care of his pals!). In order to dispel these rumors, will you provide the membership with Larry's résumé, and your rationale for hiring him?
We've also heard that you replaced the firm that audits the Welfare Fund with one staffed by someone related by marriage to the WF controller. Such a relationship could raise issues of conflicts of interest. To quell these rumors, will you make public any connections between the WF and its auditors? The membership, and the New York City Comptroller's Office, would be most grateful.
Competence: Steve, we realize that you cannot be held personally responsible for the precipitous decline in the Welfare Funds reserves---from $15 million to less than $2 million---on your watch. But we remain confused about a number of issues regarding the WF's cascading losses. We have heard that the City of New York contributes around $238 per month to the WF to cover the health benefits of adjunct faculty members. But we've also heard that the Blue Cross-Blue Shield coverage that you purchase for adjuncts costs $800 per month. Would you please correct the impression that the WF is losing over $550 each month by providing this coverage? We wouldn't want full-time or retired members to think that you were driving the WF reserves down in order to purchase the good will of the part-time constituency.
We've also heard disturbing tales about our dental benefits. We've been told that the change over from Self Insured Dental to Guardian Dental involved a significant increase in administrative fees. It seems that Self Insured Dental charged a fee only when participants used the benefit. Guardian Dental seems to charge a fee each month for every participant, regardless of use. Could you explain to us why the higher fee, higher deductible and lower service Guardian Plan was, and remains, the better choice for PSC members?
Hints of Corruption: Here, of course, we remain very suspicious about scurrilous and unsubstantiated charges. We're sure, for example, that the winter trip to Hawaii that Larry Morgan took, the one that earned him the sobriquet of "Luau Larry," was work-related. We also pay scant attention to reports that you and Larry Morgan travel and dine well together at the Welfare Fund's expense. We can't imagine that professionals like yourselves would engage in such petty corruption.
Yet we have heard murmurs about more substantive matters. After Larry assumed the position of administrator, the Welfare Fund appears to have replaced its insurance carrier with another agency, one that may have charged a higher annual premium, and one that may have had connections with friends of Mr. Morgan. In order to quash this rumor, will you recount for us your rationale in changing insurers, and will you account for any personal connections between Mr. Morgan and your carrier?
We very much appreciate your help, and look forward to reading your responses, as do our readers.
Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.