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PSC fights Paterson’s Furlough Proposal in the Streets and in the Courts

May 9, 2010 pm31 9:18 pm

PSC calls on members:
Demonstrate in front of Governor Paterson’s Manhattan office
41st and 3rd
Monday, May 10,  4 pm – 6 pm.

The Professional Staff Congress, AFT Local 2334, represents professors, instructors, adjuncts, lab techs, HEOs and a host of other professional titles at the City University of New York’s many campuses. Barbara Bowen is president.

Last week she explained to members that the proposed furlough was really a mandatory pay cut. (Read the proposed legislation).  And today she announced a two-prong strategy involving a fight in the courts AND member mobilization.

May 9, 2010
Dear Members,

Developments in the governor’s proposed furlough legislation have been occurring rapidly since I last wrote, and the union is acting rapidly in response.  Over the weekend, Governor Paterson released a new version of the proposed legislation that would reduce the workweek and the salaries of affected public employees by 20 percent during the week of May 17 to May 23.  In the new version, Program Bill #250, the City University of New York is explicitly named.  It is unclear whether the proposed furlough, if enacted, would apply to both the senior and the community colleges.

The union is taking immediate legal and political action.  Union lawyers are preparing to challenge the proposed furlough in court, and the PSC is calling on members to demonstrate in front of Governor Paterson’s Manhattan office (41st St. and 3rd Ave.) on Monday, May 10, between 4 pm and 6 pm.

Legal Challenge
The proposed legislation, should it pass, would be illegal. The PSC is preparing to file immediately for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to stop implementation of the bill.  The president of UUP, our sister union at SUNY, has announced that UUP will also be seeking injunctive relief.

Emergency Rally
The PSC is also taking our protest directly to the governor.  We have called an emergency rally in front of the governor’s New York City office, on 41st Street and Third Avenue, on Monday afternoon, from 4:00 to 6:00. Please make every effort to be there; we need to send a strong, swift message to the governor that we will challenge his illegal and irrational attempt to balance the budget through furloughs of public employees. Reducing the workweek and the salaries of CUNY faculty and staff—right in the middle of final exams and at the moment of highest-ever enrollment in CUNY’s history—would cause chaos in the lives of thousands of people and unfairly target students, faculty and staff.

Students will inevitably suffer if the furlough is imposed, especially during exam week.  A 20 percent reduction in our workweek would mean that some exams are not administered, many exams and papers are not graded on time, grades are not processed to meet deadlines, some students fail to graduate, others lose their chance to register for summer courses, jeopardize their graduate school admission, finish the year with transcripts unfairly marred with Incompletes, or even compromise their immigration status.  Our message to the governor is simple: Let us do our jobs!

A False Solution to the Budget Deficit
Embedding a provision for furloughs in the legislation to extend funding for the Sate government is a cowardly and cynical political maneuver.  The State has not even considered the numerous proposals that would both treat New Yorkers fairly and contribute to the long-term economic health of the State.  The PSC, as part of a coalition of unions and community groups, continues to press Albany to close tax loopholes and adopt other rational measures that would put the State on the right path toward economic recovery.

We will continue to fight the imposition of furloughs every way we can, and we need your help.  Come to the rally on Monday, and call Chancellor Goldstein’s office at 212-794-5311 to tell him why a 20 percent reduction in your workweek and salary during exam week would damage both you and your students.

I am sure you have many questions about how furloughs would be implemented next week and whom they would affect if the legislation goes forward.  At this stage, I cannot provide answers: the legislation itself is unclear, and CUNY management has not discussed implementation with the PSC.  The union would of course do everything in its power to protect your rights in the event of imposition of a furlough, but we remain focused on preventing furloughs from taking place at all. Furloughs for CUNY faculty and staff would cut short the aspirations of thousands of students on the brink of graduation, and would scapegoat hard-working public employees for a budget deficit we did nothing to create.  A furlough is a tax increase, imposed on modestly-paid public employees by a governor and legislature who claim they will not consider new taxes.  This is not about sacrificing for the common good; this is about playing politics while refusing to offer real solutions to the State’s budget problem.

Your union is fighting hard for you and for our students.  I will continue to update you as there is more information. Please do everything you can to attend the rally tomorrow, Monday, May 10, from 4 pm to 6 pm at Governor Paterson’s Midtown office.

In solidarity,
Barbara Bowen
President, PSC

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