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THE
PATRIOT
RETURNS

 

       Vol. 47, No.3                                                        April 14, 2009

 

NEW CAUCUS JOB LISTING:
$70K FOR "ACTIVISM"?

 

Despite the economic downturn, our union dues have made sure that at least one entity—the New Caucus—is still hiring. In a job posted on April 6, under the category "Activism & Organizing," the New Caucus wants the PSC to hire a new employee—at an annual salary of up to $69,000, plus benefits.

We already know what kind of "activism" the New Caucus undertakes—such as when the Dear Leader sent a PSC staffer (click on this link) to picket the offices of state Sen. Carl Kruger. Do we really need to spend $70,000 in dues money for someone who will picket the office of Senate Democrats?

But there's more! The "activist/organizer" will be responsible for "building solidarity among full-time and part-time members on campuses to address inequities arising as a result of the two-tier faculty labor structure at CUNY." The PSC-CUNY is a union of academic professionals. Do faculty members — either full-time or adjuncts—really need an "activist/organizer"—hired on their dime, no less—to tell them what to think about the "labor structure at CUNY"? Aren't they capable of doing that themselves?

And what else will PSC members receive for $70K? "An experienced individual," according to the job description, to "negotiate collective bargaining agreements." Odd: we thought negotiating "collective bargaining agreements" was the job of our Dear Leader, Barbara Bowen. Perhaps she has finally realized that she's such a failure at the task that she needs to hire someone else.

Accordingly, we humbly offer a suggestion: perhaps the Dear Leader could allocate her $40,000 bonus for the new "activism" position. At least, then, union members would only need to fork over $30K in dues money.

 

BARBARA'S "NOT-SO-SWIFT" BOATING

As the voting period for the union election draws to a close, we have noticed a new meme from the New Caucus mailings: our Dear Leader, Barbara Bowen, has been victimized by a "swift-boating" campaign, because the opposition CUNY Alliance lacks a "strategy" for running the union.

We fully agree that the Alliance has run a hard-hitting campaign: there are, after all, so many grounds on which to criticize our Dear Leader's performance. But "swift-boating"? That seems to us like a bit of self-projection from the New Caucus.

On the most pressing issue of the campaign—the PSC's responsibility for the dire conditions in which CUNY faculty and staff now find themselves—consider the record of the Dear Leader's "strategy":

  • The Dear Leader and her New Caucus minions vehemently opposed the CUNY Compact, monies from which have made it possible to fund adjunct conversion lines, as well as hire new full time faculty.

  • Barbara's shrill style and antagonistic antics kept her off the former governor's Higher Education Commission. Our SUNY colleagues had a place at that table; we did not.

  • The Dear Leader's apparently pathological dislike of Matthew Goldstein has poisoned relationships with 80th Street. Can one imagine a faculty union president who can't and won't meet in private with the chief officer of the university?

  • The Dear Leader sent a PSC staffer, not a member of the faculty, to sit on the task force reviewing the PSC-CUNY grants program. We all know the results of that fiasco.

  • The Dear Leader and the New Caucus opposed the recently enacted tuition hikes for CUNY. As distasteful as these may be, they should allow 80th Street to avoid deep cuts across the university in the short run. Indeed, new hires are being envisioned on some campuses.

New York's budget deficits for fiscal 2010 could run as high as $20 BILLION. City Hall and Albany will be forced to make draconian cuts to support for higher education. Additional tuition hikes, which the Dear Leader would oppose in any case, won't be sufficient to protect us at CUNY.  Furloughs and salary cuts are being readied at Arizona State University, the University of California and the Cal. State systems, and at Rutgers. Do any of us imagine that the City University will be immune? What will Barbara's strategy be? To denounce Mike Bloomberg, a REPUBLICAN mayor? To demonize Carl Kruger, a DEMOCRATIC state senator? To shout at Speaker Sheldon Silver, a firm friend of Israel?

These are but a few examples of the New Caucus's lamentable leadership of a union in a publicly funded university. Little wonder that our salaries have been driven so low, our benefits gutted and our conditions of employment made ever worse. And she has the chutzpah to attack her opponents for not having a strategy for the PSC? Makes you wonder if our Dear Leader has opened a back channel to Karl Rove and company.

 

Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus

Editor-in-Chief

 

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