Sunday, May 24, 2020


This looks like a purely symbolic action but at least this group of CUNY faculty within the Professional Staff Congress called Rank and File Action is doing something collectively.

We CUNY faculty (adjuncts, graduate teaching fellows, tenure-track, and tenured) pledge to withhold our Spring 2020 grades in protest of the massive wave of layoffs and the June tuition hike and wellness fee proposed by CUNY management. The purpose of this pledge is to build an action capable of forcing the CUNY administration to reverse its policy of preemptive layoffs and austerity, and to negotiate with the union in order to secure every single job at the university for the Fall 2020 semester. We commit to sharing this pledge with colleagues in our departments and programs, across all disciplines, to garner the broad participation needed for this action to succeed. 

* All of us pledge to wait to submit grades UNTIL May 28, CUNY’s deadline date at most colleges for accepting S20 grades.
* If we reach a 70% CUNY faculty pledge support by May 27, we will withhold our Spring 2020 grades AFTER the respective grade submission deadlines on our campuses, as well as after May 29, the date by which teaching adjunct faculty receive their reappointment or non-reappointment letters via email.

I very much doubt they will get anywhere near 70% participation but at least these union members are trying something.

The organizers received some coverage in Left Voice. This part of the Left Voice piece struck me:

What makes this action particularly interesting and, in many ways groundbreaking, is that it was built entirely without the support of the leadership of the university faculty and staff union — the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) — and its resources. The PSC leadership has repeatedly argued against work actions or strikes to defeat these layoffs, choosing instead to bargain behind closed doors and lobby politicians at City Hall and in Albany. At the last delegate assembly meeting of the union, the question of a strike was brought up several times by delegates, and the union leadership’s response was that such actions would be illegal and therefore could not be considered. Such unwillingness to challenge the status quo, such deference to the closed-door negotiating process, over which they have full control, shows both the weakness and undemocratic nature of even so-called progressive unions. 

The PSC is so far ahead of the UFT in that they actually have real discussions at their Delegate meetings. If an opposition is not allowed to express themselves in union forums, then it isn't a democracy. 


shelley said...

Why are these stands merely symbolic? Why can't a union form outside the iron wheel of political power? Why can't these actions cause real reform in unions? Because unions in America, are, and have always been one form or another of "Business Unionism" or what Gompers famously called "Pure and Simple Unionism." All unions in America, even those that were once led by Marxists, the Left-wing unions of the CIO, accept capitalism as the foundation, and for the most part, as the beneficial foundation of the economy. And, while capitalism may need tempering from time to time, by more humane powers that can, without serious challenge to it, reduce or mitigate the effects of greed and the concentration of unrestrained individual wealth and power, it is not labor's part, even if it is the most powerful humane power that can temper the excesses of market capitalism, to question or challenge private property or the market or capital.

So, what was once the only human power that could temper the excesses of capital has been defeated. The idea that Bernie calls himself a Socialist, that people can red bait the mayor of NYC on a union blog speaks to where we are at: there is no Left in America, there is no labor movement in America. There is no, and there has never been here, outside of rhetoric, movement to reverse the relationship of workers and capital. So workers are part of the system that strives to concentrate wealth and they are focused on their own economic well being. This is so obvious when one considers how labor is married to the established parties, it swings its power to reward and to punish politicians and parties, now the Democratic Party and were it not the Democrats than to the Republicans for the two parties are business parties and labor in America is a business unionism. So labor leaders from the top down reject any independent, working class political action

This is not news.

What is news is that the pandemic has caused a great depression and capital and labor have been exposed as partners in the cold and calculating abuse of the working classes. And, though it hasn't happened yet, public service union members, who have died because of the callous capital alliance of the union leadership and the political class, may join other union workers and non-union workers and strike. We are only in the agitation stage. we may not see an action. Time will tell. Americans are old and fat and comfortable, but they might get lean and angry and very uncomfortable in time.

Anonymous said...

Maybe working people will get out of their slumber.

Anonymous said...

To those of you who can retire or resign and haven't yet done so: leave now, with good memories and justified pride in a job well done...

To those looking at 5,10,15, 20, or more years in the system:
- if you can see yourself doing ANYTHING else in life, get out and do it while time is still on your side;
- if you firmly believe in your calling as an educator, find a place where your talents, love, and dedication will be valued

Anonymous said...

The leadership of the UFT is just practicing what every good lefty fascist practices on a daily basis. Many of them frequenting this blog. Shutting down the opposition, distributing fake and misleading information, and controlling the population. The only difference is in a communist Nation, if you speak out against the government, you disappear. I know some people like Shelly wouldn't see that as evil, but they would be wise study history

Anonymous said...

@ 7:32. There's a HUGE difference between 5 and 20 years left in the system no matter how bad one views the system. You obviously do view it as toxic. I'm not going to bicker about that nor your experiences in the system. You paint with a broad brush however. I have 8 years left in the system. I'll survive it, thank you, but the call the teacher who has put 20 plus years into the system as walking the same road as the one who has put 10 years into it just doesn't mix. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. The 10-year vet isn't a third of the way there yet.

Anonymous said...


I did leave the DOE, but I would caution anyone else to think very carefully about this major life decision. There are teaching jobs with the federal government and the state government. The pay is lower, and down the line the pension is lower, but if you are willing to relocate, you can afford to buy a home on a teacher salary most places away from the city. There were some kind admins that I worked for in the DOE, but the bad ones were horrible. I never saw that hostility and pettiness in supervisors outside the DOE. In my opinion, students are students, so that was the same for me no matter where I worked.

As you go along in life, you will see that there are former teachers working in daycare, as librarians, as trainers in non-profits. They are all over.

But I would also say that many teachers needlessly suffer at the hands of an unjust system. You might feel the best way to handle this is leave, like I did. That's ok. I made a good life. But, the really best way to combat the injustice is to reach out to positive people who will support and encourage you. The nastiness of the last 15 or so years is working its way out of the system. If you want to stay a teacher, reach out to positive, like minded people who can offer help and suggestions.

ed notes online said...

8:36 - You need to really study history when you say :The leadership of the UFT is just practicing what every good lefty fascist practices on a daily basis.
The UFT was founded on being anti-letist and has never changed -- read anything about Shanker -- neocon - the UFT has been culturally left but not economically left. Ever. As for fascist -- yes undemocratic but check out right wing unions in the past where you would be kneecapped for even saying this.

Anonymous said...

I think you would get kneecapped in some left unions too Norm.