Barbara Bowen Provides Details of the New Tentative PSC/CUNY Contract Agreement!

Dear Commons Community,

Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen provided the following details of the new tentative PSC/CUNY contract agreement.


Dear Members,

I am pleased to provide a summary of the main features of the tentative contract reached yesterday morning after an all-night negotiating session and approved yesterday afternoon by the union’s Executive Council. The agreement is tentative until it is approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees and ratified by the PSC membership.
Every good thing that we were able to achieve in this contract-from retroactive pay to three-year appointments for adjuncts-was the result of your collective pressure. Given where we started, with the State refusing to provide a single dollar to fund increases and CUNY management maintaining that all they could afford was 6%, we made real progress.

The sustained and militant contract campaign by PSC members and allies-capped by a 92% strike authorization vote-created the pressure needed to force Albany to fund our contract and CUNY management to agree to significant structural changes. We are still living in a moment of enforced austerity for public workers, but I believe that the advances we achieved on many fronts in this contract make it worthy of our collective fight.

Here is a summary:

1% across-the-board effective 4/20/12
1% across-the-board effective 4/20/13, compounded
2.5% across-the-board effective 4/20/14, compounded
2% across-the-board effective 4/20/15, compounded
2% across-the-board effective 4/20/16, compounded
1.5% across-the board effective 4/20/17, compounded
TOTAL: 10.41% (with compounding)
Retroactive Payment:
  • The increases are fully retroactive, and will be applied, as in previous PSC contracts, to all employees under the contract who were on payroll at the time the raises were effective.
  • The retroactive cash payment will be made in two checks. We expect both payments to be made in the 2016 calendar year, but the date depends on when the City and State process the payroll. CUNY has agreed to use its best efforts to ensure timely retroactive payment.
The proposed contract covers a period of just over seven years: 85 months + 14 days. It will be in effect from October 20, 2010 to November 30, 2017.

Signing Bonus:
  • A lump-sum payment of $1,000 for full-time employees, pro-rated for part-time employees, will be made to all those who are on payroll as of September 1, 2016 and who were also on payroll on May 1, 2016.  
  • The PSC was able to negotiate the full $1,000 signing bonus for adjuncts who taught 9 or more contact hours in both semesters of the 2015-16 academic year and who are on payroll on September 1, 2016.
  • We were also able to negotiate a signing bonus of $750 for Graduate Assistants A, B, and C, and a $500 signing bonus for Graduate Assistants D, on payroll on the dates above.
Increased Welfare Fund Contribution to Allow Improved Dental Benefit:
  • Additional funding achieved through the contract and directed to the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund will allow the Welfare Fund to improve the dental benefit. Welfare Fund staff and Board of Directors are determining how to use the additional funding most effectively to improve the dental benefit; details will be announced later this summer.
Teaching Load:
  • As part of the contract, CUNY management agrees that it is “committed to a shared goal of reducing the annual undergraduate teaching contact hour workload for full-time classroom teaching members of the instructional staff by 3 teaching contact hours.”
  • A labor/management committee, in place by October 1, 2016, will develop a plan and identify resources to reduce the contractual teaching load by 3 hours.
  • The plan will be implemented no later than the conclusion of the next round of bargaining.
  • The reduction in the contractual teaching load is designed to allow faculty more time for mentoring, academic research, and individual attention to students.
Improved Advancement Opportunities for HEOs:
  • Assistants to HEO, HEO Assistants and HEO Associates who have completed one or more years of service at the top salary step for their title will be eligible to nominate themselves or be nominated by their supervisor for a $2,500 increase to their base pay in recognition of “excellence in performance or increased responsibilities within the title.”
  • The HEO Reclassification Guidelines will be changed to allow HEOs to nominate themselves directly for reclassification. The Guidelines will also recognize that a significant increase in volume of work can transform the nature of the position and be a factor in reclassification to a higher title. Reclassification to the highest HEO title will be possible even if there is another HEO in the highest title in the same office or department.
Multi-Year Appointments for Teaching Adjuncts:
  • The contract creates a five-year pilot program to restructure adjunct appointments for those who regularly teach at least 6 contact teaching hours a semester in the same department of a college.
  • Full information about the program will be provided on the PSC website in the coming week; it is presented only in outline here.
  • Starting in Fall 2017, an adjunct who has taught at least 6 contact teaching hours per semester in the same department of the college for the 10 most recent semesters will be considered for a three-year appointment.
  • To receive a three-year appointment, an adjunct must receive a positive recommendation by the department P&B committee following a comprehensive review. As with all appointments, approval by the college president is required.
  • Subsequent appointments will be for three years, and will involve a review.
  • Adjuncts on three-year appointments will be assigned at least 6 contact teaching hours a semester.
  • If, for some reason, the department is unable to offer 6 contact teaching hours in any semester during the three-year appointment, the department chair will offer the adjunct either a non-teaching adjunct assignment or a course (or courses) to make up the hours at some time during the next year.

As a one-time transition to the new program, adjuncts who have taught at least 6 contact teaching hours in the same department of the college for 14 of the 18 semesters preceding the 2016-17 academic year-including the four most recent semesters-will receive a two-year appointment without a performance review. The two-year appointments will cover the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years.

  • Adjuncts on two-year and three-year appointments will accrue sick days, up to a cap of three weeks.
Graduate Assistants:
  • Graduate Assistants who are covered for health insurance through NYSHIP and who then immediately become adjuncts will no longer have to work for a year as an adjunct before being eligible for health insurance through the NYC Health Benefits Program. They may move immediately to adjunct health insurance, providing they meet other eligibility requirements.
  • Graduate Assistants will be eligible to apply for grants to support their research from the Adjunct Professional Development Fund, with priority given to applications from those with lower fellowship support.
Library Faculty:
  • Annual leave for faculty employed full time as librarians, regardless of years of service, will be increased to 40 work days.
Adjunct Professional Development Fund:
  • For the first time, funding for this program will be made permanent, with $160,000 added each year to the total.
CLIP and CUNY Start Instructors:
  • CUNY will create two new full-time titles: CLIP Instructor and CUNY Start Instructor. The new titles will have annualized salaries equivalent to the Lecturer salary schedule.
  • The new titles will also have annualized health insurance and PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund benefits.
  • Details on other contract provisions that apply will be available soon.
Educational Opportunity Centers
  • EOC employees will receive the same salary increases, retroactive pay and signing bonus as other CUNY employees.
  • EOC adjuncts who meet the eligibility requirements will be eligible to receive health insurance through the NYC Health Benefits Program and supplemental benefits from the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund.
Educational Technology and Distance Learning:
  • New contract language will be developed by a joint labor/management committee to govern contractual observations of online classroom teaching.
Bereavement Leave
  • For the first time, full-time faculty and staff will have a contractual entitlement to paid bereavement leave for a death in the family. The leave will be for up to four days.
  • Adjuncts will be allowed to use their existing personal emergency leave for bereavement. Adjuncts using the leave will be expected to give advance notice, but will not be required, as they are now, to request such leave in advance.
Grievance and Discipline:
  • On a pilot-program basis, several changes have been made to speed up the Grievance and Discipline processes. Full details will be available on the PSC website.
CUNY’s Demands:
  • CUNY’s demands prioritized increasing management’s discretion to pay higher salaries to selected faculty and staff for the purpose of recruitment and retention. The union agreed to increase by 15 percentage points the limit of such salaries.
  • The union also agreed to a five-year pilot program that would allow up to 10 appointments annually, CUNY-wide, with no salary cap, governed by the existing contractual procedures.
  • The union agreed to participate in a labor/management committee to examine and make recommendations on salaries in the business schools at CUNY colleges. Discussion of whether a new salary scale should be introduced will include salaries of part-time as well as full-time faculty.
  • CUNY management pressed hard to allow an unlimited number of annual appointments for full-time faculty on one-year contracts, without access to tenure. The union refused.
  • CUNY also wanted an unlimited number of such full-time positions; the union agreed to allow up to 250, CUNY-wide.
Please keep in mind that the summary above does not include every detail of every provision-and that many provisions reflect struggle and compromise. More information will be available in the coming week.

Thank you for the passion, organizing and tenacity that made the agreement possible.
In solidarity,
Barbara Bowen
President, PSC


  1. After five years of adjuncting for a $3000 per course, we become eligible for three-year contracts that pay $3000 per course. Wonderful! Half of CUNY professors will still be eligible Food Stamps.