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Vol. 45, No.3 March 30, 2009
NEW CAUCUS NEGATIVITY
We've been receiving some glossy campaign mailings from the New Caucus, so we know that the organization is, at least, well-funded. Perhaps our Dear Leader, Barbara Bowen, is putting some of the $40,000 annual bonus she's funneled to herself as union head into the New Caucus campaign coffers?
After all, if the New Caucus loses, the Dear Leader loses not just her power, but her salary will go down by more than $40,000. In the ultimate indignity, she'd have to go back into the classroom to teach—at a regular professor's salary!
In any case, after nine years in power, we expected the New Caucus campaign literature to be celebrating its many achievements. But with salaries failing to keep pace with inflation and the Welfare Fund kept afloat only through a massive salary "giveback," there probably wasn't much for the Dear Leader to talk about. So the mailings have focused on attacking the CUNY Alliance.
Most of the New Caucus missive criticized the Alliance for. . . not supporting efforts of the Dear Leader's krazy kontract krew. The Alliance, it seems, refused to undertake self-defeating "organizing" activity like picketing the Chancellor's residence. And the Alliance apparently doesn't approve of the New Caucus' preferred negotiating tactic of childishly walking out of bargaining sessions when the other side doesn't immediately give in. In other missives, some New Caucus apparatchiks have even thrown in what seems to us to be below-the-belt personal attacks against the Alliance ticket.
But we were most struck by the Dear Leader's claim that Alliance criticism of her record undermined the need to "unite the union."
We understand that since our Dear Leader sees herself as President-for-Life, union elections are inconvenient things. But maybe Barbara's desperation isn't all that surprising. With her $40,000 annual bonus riding on the election outcome, it seems that she's willing to say just about anything to get re-elected.
THE NEW CAUCUS AGENDA:
By choosing a negative campaign, the Dear Leader doesn't have to outline a positive agenda. What, after all, could she promise: more salary increases that didn't keep pace with inflation?
Since the New Caucus refuses to say what it wants to do with three more years in office (other than adding $120,000 over the period to Barbara Bowen's paycheck), let us allow New Caucus activists to speak for themselves. All quotes come from an internal list-serv, and were forwarded to us by a disillusioned New Caucus member.
Shirley Rausher: "A significant protest needs to be made in order to shake up the status quo. That is how progress will be made. This thinking, after all, follows the philosophy of the original New Caucus."
So the Dear Leader plans to take on whom—President Obama? Governor Paterson? The Democratic Congress or state assembly? Can we really afford a union leadership that can't work with any political figures or administrators, and wants to spend all its time on "significant protest[s]"?
Stanley ("Guv'nor") Aronowitz: "Should we prepare to place the issue of seniority and adjunct pay equity at the top of the next contract agenda? Yes."
At least Aronowitz has the courage to come out and admit what the New Caucus wants to do. But, ask yourselves: while adjuncts are overworked and underpaid, in these tough economic times, how likely is CUNY to get more public funding on behalf of "pay equity" for the members of its faculty not chosen through national searches, or even with requirements of holding Ph.D. degrees?
Jim Perlstein: "We might start by taking a look at how the Teamsters educated their full-time members at UPS to throw in their lot in a contract campaign focused on justice and equity and security for part-time drivers . . . We are not yet in a position to mobilize our members for a "fight to the death.'"
Again, we praise Perlstein (chair of the PSC's "Solidarity Committee") for his honesty: a re-elected New Caucus will do little or nothing to ensure higher salaries or better workloads for full-time faculty. And on the Teamsters' model: what do you think Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa would say of the Dear Leader's prioritizing global politics ahead of the economic well-being of her members?
So, the New Caucus agenda boils down to: Three more years of fruitless protests and demands that the state legislature grant the faculty of the City University of New York a pay scale that treats professors like Teamsters.
Why has the New Caucus chosen negative attacks instead of highlighting its agenda in the campaign? BMCC chapter chair and New Caucus activist Rebecca Hill explained the dilemma: "Many full-timers are alienated from the union," since New Caucus radicals have played "into the worst depictions of unions and social justice movements as achieving equality by bringing everyone down to the ‘lowest common denominator.'"
Once the NC gets full-timers' votes, though. . . it's full-speed ahead—in a "fight to the death."
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