Vol. 56, No.4 - October 12, 2011
Our Readers Respond
The Patriot is very gratified by the wonderful response to Issue 56.3. As always, we continue to provide information which the PSC's Bowen & London do not want the membership to know. In this category, we include both:
1. Basic clarity regarding rights and benefits (“keep them in the dark – they'll be more dependent on us for information and help”). One faculty member told us regarding 56.3, “Reading it over, I find more information from this non-PSC
person about the facts of health coverage than I get from the PSC.”
2. Information regarding Bowen's non-union-related political agenda on which she spends our dues money – lavishly! Bown & London will, of course, weave all sorts of stories and gobble-dee-gook to explain how everything they do is really member related (“Members live in the world; they are workers; everything in the world affects workers; therefore we may spend member money to fix the world as 'We' see fit”). But the discerning among us will see and understand the truth.
As most of us know, the PSC has been “demonstrating” regarding adjunct health care. Laudable as this might be (or not – more on this later), the Bowen/London group feel compelled to mix even the most benign cause with radical fascism. It is so fundamental to their being that it cannot be squelched. To wit, from a faculty member:
I was just outside Baruch on 25th Street today, Sept. 26. There was a PSC adjunct protest going on in front of the building - for restoration of adjunct health insurance.
One rocket-scientist adjunct (I don't recognize her from Baruch) is carrying a large sign with a clenched fist. My late father would always point out that it was the fascist salute used in Hungary in the 20's, 30's and 40's. To my father, and to many Jews of his generation - the fascist salute wasn't much different than the dreaded Nazi salute.
My grandfather described how in Hungary in the 20's (presumably in the 30's and 40's too) the Jewish students were routinely pulled out of class in high school ("gymnasium"). These teenage students were brutally beaten by the fascists. My grandfather told us that this used to happen to him all the time - that's how he ended up in America before the war, which ultimately turned out to be a good move.
One would expect a CUNY professor - whether full time or adjunct - to be a little more conscious of history and sensitivity. Losing health insurance is no doubt traumatic. But it certainly doesn't justify stupidity.
More reader comment on the Welfare Fund & finances
Some comments from astute readers of The Patriot regarding the “imminent” loss of adjunct health care:
1. Hmm, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't this just a demand that CUNY improve the terms of a ratified contract?
If CUNY had its budget cut and departments lost adjuncts, I'm assuming the PSC would not "do the right thing" and agree to cover classes (for the benefit of the students) which would otherwise be cut. Sanctity of contract and all that.
So why would we expect CUNY to voluntarily add money to the existing contract?
2. What is Bowen's game here? I can think of two rationales:
Rationale #1: Bowen/London have concluded they will have to let the adjunct health care be cut back (since they don't dare cut back on other benefits from the Welfare Fund, such as the dental or prescription drug benefits), and they want the adjuncts to know they have done everything possible to protect their health care, so they should blame CUNY not the Bowen/London culprits for their loss of coverage.
Rationale #2: Bowen/London have concluded that they do not dare let the adjunct health care be cut back (elections coming up). So they will have to cut back on other benefits, such as the dental or prescription drug benefits, and they want the full timers to know they have done everything possible to protect their health care, so they should blame CUNY's failure to "do the right thing" rather than Bowen and London for their loss of coverage.
Either way, the demonstration/psycho-drama doesn't seem very convincing to me.
3. Perhaps the dramatics serve as nice "distractions" for the membership from the failure to negotiate a new contract, an issue the "leadership" seems to regard as less pressing than among others, a strike at a restaurant in central park [the PSC has been demonstrating for restaurant “workers” – workers-of-the-world and all that -- ed.] We're without a contract for a full year: not a word about that!
4. Bowen blames management. But a clearer view is that the Union leadership under Bowen failed to negotiate contracts that addressed the issue, preferring instead to pursue the will o the wisp of a City based health plan.
5. As you [meaning The Patriot – ed.] pointed out, there is no mention by them that the adjunct benefit, per the contract, is supposed to be partially contributory which no one ever applied to the best of my knowledge. Section 6.6:
6.6 The University and the PSC agree that the health benefit for qualified adjuncts shall be available to those non-teaching adjuncts who are working ten or more hours per week and who have worked ten or more hours for two consecutive semesters and to those teaching adjuncts who are teaching six or more hours (or the equivalent) in the semester and who have taught one or more courses for two consecutive semesters (not including Summer Sessions) provided that said non-teaching and teaching adjuncts are not covered by other primary health care insurance provided by or through another source. Adjuncts who establish eligibility as provided in this paragraph, which is based upon CUNY-wide service, shall be eligible to receive benefits in the third consecutive semester. Such benefit shall be partially contributory by the employee. The amount of the employee's contribution shall depend upon available funding and the number of eligible employees.
Readers Raise Another Welfare Fund Issue
We were surprised to note that our Public Service issue on the Welfare Fund touched yet another chord: the inefficiency on the part of Welfare Fund offices to reimburse even our paltry benefits in a timely and efficient manner.
One reader wrote:
If my recent experience is any measure, I must say that you will probably get your tax refund faster from the Federal Government than your benefit money from the Welfare Fund of the PSC. On July 1, 2011, I mailed to the PSC a receipt and form requesting that $500.00 be paid to me as the benefit listed in the PSC website for hearing aids. One full month passed and I did not hear a word from the PSC's Welfare Fund office. So I called the office after a month and was told it takes eight to ten weeks to process the request! My question: is the PSC Welfare Fund Office in the United States or in Swahililand?!
I would like to know why is the PSC Welfare Fund holding up my money when a simple transaction should be handled within a matter of days. When will Barbara Bowen and Steven London start paying attention to member services instead of demonstrating, and parading for causes which have absolutely no relevance to the members and their benefits?
If you have any similar stories and you would like to share your experience with the PSC office/Welfare Fund with us, please let us know and we will attempt to publicize these issues. All requests to remain anonymous shall be honored.
Voice of the People
Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.
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