Hunter College Resolution on a Strike Authorization Campaign

Whereas: CUNY and Hunter College are currently facing a serious budget crisis that is hurting students and academic workers through course cancellations, over-tallied classes, vanishing full-time lines, heavier workloads for faculty and staff, reduced student services and resources, and the threatened termination of entire academic programs;

Whereas: the CUNY Board of Trustees has used the PSC contract as a pretext for approving another $200/year tuition increase for CUNY undergraduate students at the four-year colleges, and a state law limiting tuition increases to $200 a year expires in 2021;

Whereas: without a credible threat of a strike, PSC lacks the power to halt the budget crisis and the tuition hikes and to win sufficient funding from New York State to pay for the proposed contract or a stronger one, especially one that would include our fair demand for a minimum of $7,000 per three-credit course for adjunct faculty; 

Whereas: the PSC carried out a strike authorization campaign and a strike authorization vote for the last contract, which the PSC leadership believes was useful in pushing CUNY management to concede more gains than they were willing to prior to the strike authorization;

Whereas: a strike authorization vote, along with the necessary mobilization of a strike authorization campaign and the organization necessary to make a strike threat credible, would only increase our leverage at the bargaining table if this contract is rejected by the membership and would only strengthen the union going forward, regardless of how the ratification vote turns out;

Therefore be it resolved that: the PSC members assembled at the 6 November 2019 Hunter College chapter meeting urge the PSC Executive Council and Delegate Assembly to immediately: 

  • Launch and publicize a CUNY-wide strike authorization campaign, using the Proposed Strike Authorization Campaign Plan appended below as a guide;
  • Double the number of paid part-time liaisons at each campus; 
  • Task all PSC organizing staff and part-time liaisons with developing and supporting mobilization teams on every campus to build toward a strike;

Be it further resolved that: effective immediately, the Hunter College chapter of the PSC: 

  • Pledges available chapter resources toward a serious strike mobilization campaign on our campus, as detailed in the Proposed Strike Authorization Campaign Plan; 
  • Commits to hiring a chapter member as a strike authorization organizer, chosen by an in-person election at the next chapter meeting, to be paid the same rate as a part-time liaison out of the chapter’s funds and who is tasked with mobilizing the chapter membership, as detailed in the Proposed Strike Authorization Campaign Plan; 
  • Convenes a strike committee as a standing committee of the chapter, composed of the elected chapter leadership and rank-and-file PSC members from all job titles, to lead this campaign at Hunter College and report on its progress at chapter meetings.

*** Proposed Strike Authorization Campaign Plan ***

  • Strike authorization pledge: assign campus organizers to reach out to all members with strike pledge cards, affirming they would vote yes to a strike authorization vote; that they will respect the picket line if and when we strike; and that in the event that the union’s dues checkoff rights are revoked under the Taylor Law, they will sign up for automatic monthly payment of dues directly to the PSC.
  • Membership mobilization: develop and support teams of rank and file members on each campus to: 
    • Work with organizing staff to get strike pledge cards signed.
    • Work with members, students, and other supporters on campus to build the campaign and organize escalating militant actions leading toward a strike.
    • Educate members about the need for a strike and how effective strikes can win important gains.
    • Organize picket schedules and train picket volunteers, including in how to respond to potential picket-crossers.
    • Organize drives for food, clothes, books, and other items that might be needed during strike.
    • Begin outreach to collect information about which members will need financial assistance during a potential strike.
    • Coordinate with the PSC central office regarding strike funds and CUNY-wide logistics.
  • Building mobilization capacity: 
    • Double the number of part-time liaisons.
    • Hire more organizers.
    • Task all organizing staff and part-time liaisons with developing and supporting the mobilization teams on every campus to get pledge cards signed and build strike support.
    • Eliminate unrealistic membership card quotas for liaisons and retroactively consider all efforts to build power toward a fair contract as legitimate paid work.
    • Include rank-and-file “$7K or Strike” activists and organizers in every aspect of this campaign.
    • Hire student organizers on each campus and/or pay stipends to students to build solidarity.
    • Hire community organizers to mobilize CUNY community members including alumni, families of CUNY students, and parents of NYC public high school students.
  • Financial resources: 
    • Raise dues to 2% for all members earning more than $70K/year.
    • Set up an online fundraising platform for a “militancy” fund to provide support in case of a strike.
  • Publicity: 
    • Launch a broad public campaign designed to maximize and mobilize the support of students, other unions and their members, and the wider NYC community for a possible strike.
    • Encourage the meaningful participation in public relations work of all rank-and-file member-activists who bring skills and experience into the campaign, including with social media.
  • Coordination: 
    • Create a CUNY-wide strike authorization coordinating committee of active rank-and-file campus leaders and organizers from every campus that reports regularly to the PSC Delegate Assembly and Executive Council but is independent of both bodies.
    • Empower this committee to make adjustments to plans and procedures in consultation with PSC staff and in keeping with the spirit of this proposal.