After years of contract negotiations, members of the Professional Staff Congress, the union that represents CUNY faculty members, are now pushing for timely pay.
Though the new contract was ratified in Aug. 2016 by a 94 percent vote, according to their website, members of the PSC learned that the pay increase included in the new contract will not begin until January 2017.
PSC members have voiced their thoughts on the matter citing issues with mortgage bills, home repair, providing for their children and families and the postponement of retirement because of the delayed payment.
David Gerwin, Associate Professor of Secondary Education and the chair of the PSC chapter at Queens College, spoke about the new changes of the pay increase.
“All of the other contracts that we’ve had, the pay scales shifted immediately. It is highly unusual for this delay in payment,” Gerwin said.
This new contract agreement increased PSC employees’ salaries by 10.41 percent from Oct. 20, 2010 to Nov. 30, 2017 with the retroactive pay beginning in April 2012, according to the website.
Disagreements between the PSC and CUNY led to a long period of negotiations. The PSC operated without a contract for about six years and one of the biggest disagreements between the two parties was an issue of percentage increases and the inclusion of back-pay for the time faculty members past and present operated without a contract.
“It was about seven years before we got any economic offer. It was frustrating because it felt like we didn’t know where the other side was,” Gerwin said.
Gerwin understands that the delay in payment is most likely a result of accounting for seven years of employees that includes administrative workers along with full time professors, part time adjuncts and librarians across all of CUNY’s campuses. According to their website, the PSC represents more than 27,000 faculty members across CUNY.
During the contract negotiations, the PSC was not only concerned with money. Many issues such as adjunct health insurance on the NYC plan, paid parental leave and increased funding for faculty research grants were all major components of the ratification of the most recent contract.
On Sept. 19, CUNY’s Board of Trustees hosted the members of the PSC for an opportunity to present testimonies for their push for timely pay at Baruch College in Manhattan.
“No one expected this payment to be instant,” PSC president Barbara Bowen said in the testimony. “But we did expect an administration that has said for two years that this contract is a priority to act with more urgency.”
PSC treasurer Sharon Persinger addressed the issue of the delayed payment on the PSC website on Nov. 21 and the progress the union has attempted to make for its members during this difficult period.
“The PSC has pressed CUNY management from the day the contract was ratified to take a more proactive approach to expediting payment,” Persinger wrote in a statement. “The union has also worked directly with the New York State and City Comptrollers to ensure that payments will be made in January.”
The PSC continues to work with CUNY to ensure all of their members will receive the pay they earned with the ratification of the new contract.
“It is not fair that people who have waited as long as we have for a raise should also have to wait for payment,” Persinger stated. “The union has made that position known loud and clear.”