If you have difficulty reading the newsletter, please go to www.patriotreturns.com to see the latest release.
Vol. 45, No.1 March 23, 2009
Diversity in the PSC:
During their nine years in power, our colleagues in the New Caucus have been vocal critics of the racial and ethnic make up of CUNY's faculty and professional staff. They've established a Diversity Committee to expose the extent of "institutionalized racism," and have insisted that 80th Street change its hiring priorities. If, as Barbara Bowen explained to members of the New York legislature, "72% of CUNY students are either African-American, Latino, Asian-American or Native American," at some point in the not-too-distant future the university should have a majority minority faculty.
Since reshaping the racial and ethnic profile of the professoriate at CUNY is among their highest priorities, you might well suppose that the New Caucus has done its best to practice what it preaches. But a glance at their candidates for the 2009 Executive Council election suggests otherwise. There are but a few people of color on their slate. Native Americans and Asian-Americans are nowhere to be found. Our editor-in-chief finds the absence of North American and South Asian Indians to be most perplexing.
Expecting Bowen's slate to resemble the student body might be too much. But, as our Dear Leader has reminded us, 36% of faculty members are people of color. The percentages for professional staff (HEOs, CLTs, etc.) are greater. In the name of diversity, then, shouldn't the New Caucus field at least nine or ten minority candidates? Or, as we've long suspected, are Bowen, London and company no more than a crew of not-so-New Caucasians?
Bringing Up Babies
There was little to celebrate and much to criticize in the 2007-2010 contract negotiated by our Dear Leader. Once again, salary increases failed to keep up with the consumer price index for the New York region, let alone make up for the humiliating losses of the previous New Caucus capitulation contracts. A sizeable number of Barbara's adjunct supporters were outraged by her failure to deliver on promises of job security for part timers. And a reduction of the heavy teaching loads of full time faculty never made it to the bargaining table. No wonder that she's known as "Barbara Bupkis."
The one bright spot in this otherwise dismal picture appeared to be the new policy of paid parental leave. Barbara and her krazy kontract krew put a great deal of effort into mobilizing, publicizing and politicking for this new benefit. 80th Street agreed to contribute some $2,250,000.00 over the life of the contract to fund full time faculty and staff with eight weeks of leave for the care of newborn/newly adopted children. The union, quite rightly, hailed this as major victory, albeit one that depended on changes in legislation in Albany. On the 25th of September, Bowen announced that New York State had given its OK and that "the PSC is determined to move as quickly as possible on implementation."
Or so they told us last September. For some six months, we heard nary a word from the Dear Leader on this, the most single achievement of her presidency. Neither the pages of The Clarion, nor the minutes of the Delegate Assembly, made mention of it. "As quickly as possible" appeared not to be quickly at all.
Until now. At the most recent meeting of the Delegate Assembly, the Dear Leader unveiled plans for the new parental leave benefit. That the announcement was made in the middle of a campaign for control of the union may be a coincidence. We think not. But such are the powers of incumbency and the consequences of attending to every cause on the planet save for that of CUNY's faculty and staff.
While we can't determine if the New Caucus dragged the process out until it was to their political advantage, we will do our best to keep track of its implementation and to ask how fairly, frequently and uniformly leaves are granted. We'll also watch to see if these are extended to our adjunct colleagues in the next round of bargaining. Barbara and company were distressingly distracted in defending the well-established PSC-CUNY grants program. Let's hope they'll be more mindful of this new one.
Will Bowen Continue to Prevaricate About Academic Boycotts?
A few days ago, AFT president Randi Weingarten reiterated the union's opposition to the recently launched American and Canadian boycott of Israeli academics. "Academic boycotts are inconsistent with the democratic values of academic freedom and free expression," she explained.
Would that the president of the Professional Staff Congress were so succinct and unambiguous. But don't bet on it. Barbara may well use the AFT statement as cover, as she did in 2005, and argue that since the PSC is an AFT local, nothing more need be done. But this was a weak excuse then, and would be so again. The membership might wonder why a union that has backed the workers at the Upper West Side's Saigon Grill and passed a resolution in support of the bakers at Stella D'Oro cookies remains so diffident when faced with the new boycott.
We politely suggest that Barbara issue a statement that would once again put the union on the record against all such academic and cultural boycotts. This might not be so easy, given that some CUNY faculty have signed on to this latest initiative. But the Dear Leader always gets her way. Anything less than a Weingarten-like stand on Bowen's part would suggest that, as we've suspected for a while, she is simply not serious about defending academic freedom.
Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.
As you know, Susan O'Malley has sought to silence the Patriot by bringing a lawsuit which seeks to limit his free speech and financially bankrupt him. Interested colleagues have weighed in at