Update on Collective Bargaining

May 26, 2005 | News from the Chancellor

Dear Members of The City University Community:

Before the 2004-2005 academic year formally concludes, I would like to provide you with an update on the negotiations with the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY.

On May 24, 2005, the University’s negotiators, joined at the bargaining table by representatives of the Governors Office of Employee Relations and the Citys Office of Labor Relations, made a comprehensive offer to the PSCs bargaining team. The representatives of the City and the State made clear that the offer made by the University is endorsed by them and that there is no other available support for the PSC/CUNY Welfare Fund outside of the collective bargaining package. Here are the specifics of the Universitys economic offer:

$800 per capita to the PSC/CUNY Welfare Fund for each full-time employee represented by the PSC in active pay status on the date of ratification of the agreement and $800 for each FTE teaching and non-teaching adjunct represented by the PSC in active pay status on the date of ratification to be paid in a one-time lump sum cash payment.

2.5% across-the-board increase to salary rates effective November 1, 2003.

The University is willing to apply a portion of the retroactive cash value of this increase to be paid as a one-time lump sum cash payment to the Welfare Fund upon ratification at the request of the PSC in order to meet the cash needs of the Welfare Fund that the PSC has identified to be approximately $30 million.

2.75% across-the-board increase effective November 1, 2004

2% across-the-board increase effective November 1, 2005 (1% of which to be funded through productivity savings)

$100 per capita per annum increase in the contribution to the PSC/CUNY Welfare Fund for each full-time active and retired member effective April 1, 2005.

$100 per capita per annum increase in the contribution to the PSC/CUNY Welfare Fund for each full-time active and retired member effective April 1, 2006.

1% across-the-board increase to be converted into a per capita per annum increase in the contribution to the PSC/CUNY Welfare Fund for each full-time active and retired member effective October 31, 2006.

The Universitys offer emphasizes contributions to the PSC/CUNY Welfare Fund. The PSC has expressed a sense of urgency for increased contributions to the Welfare Fund, asserting in its newsletter, the Clarion (April 2005, page 6 and 7), that the Welfare Funds reserves are almost gone and that [u]nless CUNY contributes more and soon cuts in benefit coverage will be unavoidable. As you know, the Welfare Funds deficits are not the result of underfunding by the University, as alleged by the PSC, but rather the escalating costs of health benefits and decisions made by the Welfare Fund, whose governing body of 12 trustees is controlled by PSC designees with only two trustees from the administration of the University. Further, the PSC acknowledges that the amount of the Universitys contribution to the Welfare Fund has been and continues to be a subject for negotiation (Clarion, May 2005, page 11). In fact, the amount of the Universitys contribution has been jointly determined through negotiations for over 30 years.

In its offer, the University has recognized the PSCs concerns about the Welfare Fund: It has presented a comprehensive package to settle the collective bargaining agreement that addresses the Welfare Funds current needs by channeling $30 million in cash to the PSC/CUNY Welfare Fund almost immediately upon the ratification of the agreement and by increasing the Universitys annual contribution by approximately $12 million. The Universitys offer also provides across-the-board increases as noted above that would raise the top salary on the Professor and Higher Education Officer schedules to over $100,000 and addresses important proposals that both parties have advanced in this round of bargaining.

To date, the PSC has insisted on its economic proposal, which substantially exceeds the economic terms of pattern agreements that both the City and the State have reached in the current round of bargaining and continues to insist on approximately 30 additional economic and non-economic demands. Unlike the PSC, the University has to be concerned that it can pay for the agreement it reaches. That is why it was so important that the PSC heard from the City and the State at our May 24th meeting that the package that the University put forward is endorsed by both the City and the State. True, it does not address all of the unions desires; it is a rare negotiation in which either party attains everything it wants. However, if the PSC truly wants to address the Welfare Funds urgent needs during this round of bargaining as well as achieve salary gains for the Universitys employees it represents, the University has provided a way to do so and to do so quickly. Further delay is not productive. We await the PSCs response.

As the academic year draws to a close, I am saddened that we do not yet have an agreement with the PSC, but I remain optimistic that we can still achieve a settlement. If I do not see you before the end of the academic year, I wish you a pleasant and productive summer.