CUNY Students Brace For Possible Teacher Strike, Tuition Increases


With CUNY students facing yet another possible tuition hike, their professors and teachers are preparing for a possible strike if Governor Cuomo doesn’t sign a stopgap spending bill by the end of November, KCP has learned.

The legislature passed the bill, dubbed Maintenance of Effort, last June. It provides public funding to cover CUNY’s annual mandatory cost increases, including contractual raises.

The Professional Staff Congress argues that if Governor Cuomo doesn’t sign the MOE, the future state budgets will not cover CUNY’s and SUNY’s mandatory costs increases. To fill the gap, tuition increases may be necessary. At Brooklyn College, full-time undergraduate New York resident students pay $3,165 per semester in tuition.

According to bill S281a/A5370a, “The state shall appropriate and make available general fund operating support to cover all mandatory costs of the City University, which shall include, but not be limited to, collective bargaining costs, including salary increments, fringe benefits, and other non-personal service costs such as utility costs, building rentals, and other inflationary expenses incurred by the City University.”

In an effort to raise support for their cause, the PSC is collecting 100,000 postcards signed by CUNY and SUNY students in support of the bill. Of these 100,000 signatures, 40,000 are needed from CUNY students. The signed postcards will be delivered to Governor Cuomo’s office at a public event in late November.

Earlier this month, PSC President Barbara Bowen announced through emails to PSC members that a strike authorization vote will be held at the union’s meeting on November 19 at the Great Hall at Cooper Union.

Brooklyn College
Brooklyn College

“There is still no offer on the table, despite the increased attention our contract has received in Albany, City Hall and CUNY’s corporate offices as a result of our October 1st demonstration and the announcement of a strike authorization vote. We need to turn up the heat again,” announced Bowen. According to her statement, PSC members have been training this fall to participate in non-violent disruptive protest.

The PSC Chapters at Kingsborough Community College and Brooklyn College are reaching out to students to encourage them to sign cards in support. Postcards can be distributed to students in class if professors feel comfortable doing so. The students can then decide if they would like to sign.

The PSC is also encouraging faculty members throughout CUNY to find pedagogically appropriate ways to make CUNY funding and the contract part of classroom learning.

“CUNY management’s failure to produce an economic offer has already begun to damage the quality of education for CUNY students. The failure to resolve our contract is a failure to invest in the college education of working people, people of color and the poor in this city,” said Bowen.


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