February 1, 2006 | News from the Chancellor
I am writing to provide you with an update on the status of the negotiations and our efforts to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the PSC.
Following the settlement of several collective bargaining agreements between the City and its unions, the University and the PSC held negotiation sessions in which the parties used those agreements as models. In particular, the parties explored possible enhancements to the economic package based upon changes in three areas:
- An extension to the length of the agreement,
- Increases in productivity, and
- Other reforms.
In November, the University and the PSC reached conceptual understandings in each of these areas. Those conceptual understandings did not constitute a tentative agreement. As the University made clear to the PSC, State and City approval of any conceptual understandings, including the economic value and a funding commitment, is a necessary condition for an agreement.
The process of consulting with the City and the State is complicated by the fact that each brings its own distinct perspective and history to these consultations based on differing patterns of collective bargaining and costing methodologies. For the City, the starting point is the DC 37 agreement, to which enhancements could be added based on the three areas mentioned above (contract extension, productivity measures, and other reforms). For the State, the starting point is the agreement with the SUNY faculty union, the UUP, albeit not all of the elements of that agreement apply to CUNY. In the past, the economic terms of the final agreement between CUNY and the PSC have usually involved a blend of the City and State patterns.
The University was in constant contact with representatives of the State and the City during the consultation process, explaining the conceptual understandings, providing data, and working through costings. Throughout this process, the University kept the PSC informed. The University has now completed its consultations with the State and the City and has set up a bargaining session with the PSC at which representatives of both the State and the City will be present. The meeting has been set for February 16th, the first date on which both the State and City are available. At that bargaining session, the University intends to make a formal offer to the PSC to settle the contract.
The University has listened carefully to the union’s goals of achieving salary increases, stabilizing the Welfare Fund, and improving working conditions. While it is not appropriate to provide details of the offer at this time, the offer will address those three goals and will be based upon the conceptual understandings that the University discussed with the PSC, as modified following our consultations with the State and the City.
The University is acutely aware of the severe financial condition of the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund of which CUNY appoints two out of twelve trustees. The University and the PSC recently assisted the Welfare Fund in avoiding an imminent cut in benefits by agreeing to transfer monies due under the prior collective bargaining agreement for professional development to the Welfare Fund. As I have previously indicated, the University has been and continues to be willing to negotiate the application of additional funds from the economic package to the Welfare Fund.
I continue to believe that the UniversityÃs dedicated faculty and staff are very much deserving of a contract that recognizes their contributions to our State and City, on behalf of our students. I have consistently and persistently communicated that belief to the highest levels of governmental leadership as we negotiate in good faith.
We very much hope that the upcoming bargaining session will facilitate a favorable conclusion to everyone’s hard work.