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   Vol. 50, No.4                                                          February 02, 2010




In recent years, department chairs have been given the leeway to assign individual adjuncts to more sections than designated by the contract. This amounted to a win-win situation: adjuncts could earn more money, while chairs could be sure that more experienced teachers were covering classes.

But to our Dear Leader, Barbara Bowen, this situation must come to an end. Much like the schoolgirl who takes her marbles and goes home when she doesn't get her way, the Dear Leader has announced that, after spring 2010 semester, the PSC no longer will grant ANY waivers for adjuncts who want to work above the designated contractual hours.

That's right: in the name of supporting adjunct rights, the New Caucus will be denying fellow PSC members the right to make a living WITH UNEMPLOYMENT OVER 10% (and underemployment even higher).

For the Dear Leader, ideological purity takes precedence over the well-being of her union's members. In her January 22 e-mail, the Dear Leader justified her decision on the grounds that "CUNY cannot continue to run on the exploited labor of adjuncts" (Dr. Bowen is talking about, in this passage, PSC members who want to work the extra sections). "The only real solution to the problem is an increase in full-time faculty lines," declares our Dear Leader, and she indicates she's busy working in Albany to obtain funding for her demands.

Given the continuing recession, the idea that the New York state government is going to give CUNY more money to accommodate the effects of the Dear Leader's intransigence seems about as likely as Barbara Bowen being named the next prime minister of Israel.

And with whom, exactly, will the Dear Leader negotiate in Albany? Not the Republicans---who look likely to reclaim control of the Senate in November, but with whom Dr. Bowen and her comrades refuse to speak. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Carl Kruger? Unlikely, since the PSC was busy picketing his office on unrelated policy matters. Sen. Klein, or Speaker Silver? How likely are they to reward the Dear Leader's anti-Israel fanaticism by coming through for her with more money in the midst of a financial downturn?

The irony in all of this: in their extremely tight 2006 re-election, the New Caucus' margin of victory came from their overwhelming support among adjuncts. But to the Dear Leader, even her allies need to suffer, if doing so will advance her agenda.




One other intriguing point from the dear Leader's newest ideological crusade. Over the past few years, our Dear Leader has portrayed herself as the department chairs' biggest supporter, someone who's willing, at all costs, to stand up to the unreasonable demands of CUNY "management" to protect the chairs' best interest.

So how did department chairs find out about this PSC power grab? Through a mass e-mail sent a few days before spring classes started. No consultation occurred, even though the PSC's move dramatically impacts every department chair in the system.

“I am aware that this change may be difficult for you,” our Dear Leader sniffed---but not aware enough to actually ask department chairs for their input before making her decision. Apparently the New Caucus commitment to "democracy" doesn't extend to soliciting opinions from union members who might disagree with the Dear Leader's preferred outcome.

What happens next fall, when Albany doesn't come through with the money for the hundreds of new full-time lines the Dear Leader is demanding? Department chairs then will be scrambling, unable to turn to experienced adjuncts who want to work, because doing so contradicts the New Caucus' ideal vision of the world.

Perhaps the Dear Leader and her trusty sidekick, "Solidarity Steve" London, can volunteer to cover some of the sections. After all, neither of them has seen the inside of a CUNY classroom in nearly a decade.


Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus



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