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Update on furlough legislation – yesterday on the street, today in court

May 12, 2010 am31 12:37 am

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.

Since the budget crisis turned to a threat of furloughs, Bowen has written 1, 2, and this is the 3rd time to members:

May 11, 2010

Dear Members and Colleagues,

The PSC has intensified our fight against the illegal furlough legislation that was passed last night in Albany. Union members were in Albany today presenting our case to State legislators; nearly 150 members came on short notice yesterday and demonstrated loudly in front of the governor’s Midtown office; PSC members and I have been speaking out in the media about the impact furloughs would have on CUNY; and this afternoon the union filed a legal complaint and request for an injunction to stop the furloughs from being implemented.

The complaint the union filed today alleges that the furlough legislation violates the U.S. Constitution and the New York State Constitution.  In particular, the legislation violates the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution, and the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. and New York State Constitutions.  We have asked the federal court in Albany to issue a temporary restraining order barring implementation of furloughs for the faculty and staff we represent at CUNY, and are seeking an injunction permanently to enjoin implementation of the law itself.  Check the PSC website for updates as the case progresses: www.psc-cuny.org.

Governor Paterson’s public statement about the furlough legislation, issued last night, is patently false. The governor claimed that the illegal furloughs of public employees are necessary only “because their union leadership has rejected all other reasonable attempts at compromise.”   If that was meant to apply to the PSC, it is completely untrue.  The PSC has never been contacted by the governor’s office with any request to discuss alternatives to furloughs.  Instead, we have offered Albany numerous proposals that would provide genuine budget relief—such as closing tax loopholes for hedge funds or temporarily retaining part of the stock transfer tax.  So far, none of the proposals has been accepted.

Furloughs, on the other hand, are not a budget solution.  If implemented, they would produce only $250 million in savings, while the State’s budget deficit is more than $9 billion.  Furloughs have nothing to do with helping the economy, and everything to do with attacking public employees and hurting the New Yorkers who depend on us.

The union’s immediate focus is on stopping the illegal reduction of our workweek and salaries, but we also want to be responsive to your concerns about how 80th Street plans to implement furloughs, if CUNY is ultimately directed to do so.  As I was writing this letter, I learned from CUNY management that their implementation plan had just been published on the CUNY website.  As soon as we study the plan and discuss its implications for members, we will provide additional information, and will advocate for your interests.

Thank you to the many PSC members who were out in front of the governor’s office protesting yesterday and to all who have called and emailed us.  We intend to continue to fight this ill-considered, destructive and illegal plan every way we can.

In solidarity,

Barbara Bowen
President, PSC


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