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Vol. 33, No.3 April 24, 2006
REMEDIAL MATH FOR THE DEAR LEADER?
With her full released time from teaching, it's been six years since our Dear Leader, PSC president Barbara Bowen, has been in the classroom. Given her recent behavior, she might want to audit a course at one of CUNY's community colleges, such as Kingsborough's Math 1, Basic Mathematics: "Arithmetic stressing quantification and manipulative skills and applications for students [or union leaders] who are deficient in that subject."
Our suggestion comes in light of the Dear Leader's perplexing "Contract Update," in which she claimed that her proposed "across-the-board salary increases of, on average, 9.5% " were the "same" as those "in the current contract for SUNY faculty and staff"---which, according to the UUP's website, actually totaled 15.6%.
In Math 1, the Dear Leader could learn about the "reflexive property of equality," that is, "the property that a = a." In the case of her proposed contract cave-in, the reflexive property of equality teaches us that if a = 9.5, it does not equal another figure---say, 15.6.
Math 1 also might instruct the Dear Leader in the "average rate of change," that is, "the change in the value of a quantity divided by the elapsed time." The UUP contract covered 48 months; the proposed PSC cave-in spans 58 months. Accordingly, the average rate of change per month (i.e., the monthly raise) for SUNY professors is .325%. The proposed average rate of change per month (i.e., the monthly raise) for CUNY professors, however, is just .164%.
So what the Dear Leader has described as the "same" raise is, in fact, barely half. We only regret that it's too late for this contract round for the Dear Leader to receive some quality Math instruction from one of CUNY's many fine professors.
The PSC's upper echelon divides responsibilities: the Dear Leader mismanages contract negotiations; her trusty sidekick, "Solidarity Steve" London, oversees the Welfare Fund's slide into bankruptcy. In recent negotiations, Steve has emerged as the King of Givebacks, seeking to use retroactive pay to cover the Welfare Fund mess. He sent one e-mail railing against city and state negotiators who were fighting to ensure that at least some of our retroactive pay went to salaries. (Retroactive salaries going to the people who actually did the work? To borrow the Dear Leader's phrase, this smacks of a "system whose effect is to wreck the University.")
But recent news suggests that the Dear Leader might want to get in on the giveback gravy train. Barbara's recent "Straight Talk About the Contract" all but promised an illegal strike in the next bargaining round, as part of her new "militancy and risk-taking" strategy: "I think that the question should not be whether we do it, but when."
What to do, then, of the news that the Dear Leader's favorite union, the TWU, got hit with a $2.5 million fine for breaking the Taylor Law? Sure, the Dear Leader has established Defense Funds---but we hear that less than $10,000 has been collected.
Barbara could---as in her claims about the UUP contract---maintain that $10,000 is the "same" as $2.5 million, and not worry about covering the fines associated with an illegal strike. But a better approach might be imitating Steve by demanding a giveback---this time not for the Welfare Fund, but the Defense Fund.
Will we soon see a full-scale war at PSC headquarters, as to whether the Dear Leader or Solidarity Steve gets to seize more of our retroactive pay for their respective causes?
THE DEAR LEADER DIGS HER OWN GRAVE
All CUNY faculty recently received an astonishing email from PSC headquarters, informing us that PSC will be participating in the "TWU Vigil for Justice at the 'Tombs,' the Manhattan House of Detention"---where Barbara's idol of incompetence, "Jolly Roger" Touissant, will serve his time for contempt of court.
We've been down this road before: the Dear Leader's high-profile backing for the TWU's illegal strike in December---just when state and city leaders were considering the draft conceptual framework for the contract---seems to have persuaded Gracie Mansion and Albany to reject the deal. So now, four months later, when we're still without a contract, the Dear Leader will go out of her way yet again to alienate city and state officials.
There will be, the PSC e-mail noted, other union officials participating in the "Vigil for Justice." But those union leaders long, long ago negotiated their contracts---and therefore have no pending business before Albany.
The whole event is typical: when the choice is between playing the role of "union radical" or looking after the economic well-being of her members, the Dear Leader prefers to play the role.
The Dear Leader has shown remarkable perspicacity in dealing with union members accused of terrorist-related activities. First the PSC claimed, in the arbitration stage, that former York adjunct and now-convicted felon Mohammed Yousry was denied "academic freedom" after being arrested for a variety of charges in the Lynne Stewart case. Then the Dear Leader sent PSC dues to former South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian---who pled guilty earlier this week to having raised money for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and conspiring to hide the identities of other members of the terrorist organization, all while knowing that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad "achieved its objectives by, among other means, acts of violence."
In the Al-Arian case, the Dear Leader cited principles of "union solidarity"---though we're unaware of her giving PSC dues to any unionists whose alleged crimes didn't conform to her own anti-Israel perspective. So why was Al-Arian, alone among academic unionists charged with crimes over the past six years, singled out to receive PSC largesse?
he Dear Leader's "solidarity" with Al-Arian sharply contrasts to her total silence to a plea from her fellow union leader, United Steel Workers president Leo Gerard. Gerard asked other unions to distance themselves from MEDCO as long as the prescription drug company engages in labor-busting practices. Why did Al-Arian get "solidarity" treatment denied to the 580 locked-out technicians of MEDCO's Las Vegas plant?
MEDCO, of course, is the company chosen by Steve London to handle all Welfare Fund prescription drug cases---part of the search for cut-rate firms whose rates might delay public revelation of his management of the Welfare Fund.
We're long past time for an outside audit of the full story regarding the PSC's involvement with MEDCO. We've even heard disturbing rumors of a $50,000 payment MEDCO made to PSC coffers before getting the prescription drug contract. Knowing that Steve is a man of integrity, we're sure he couldn't have been purchased so cheaply---but the only way to put all such concerns to rest is to let the sun shine in on the Welfare Fund-MEDCO relationship.
In the meantime, MEDCO's employees deserve at least the same level of "solidarity" as Sami Al-Arian.
We have nothing to note regarding Brooklyn CLT and self-described "trouble-finder" Paul Sheridan.
Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.