Once again, we are walking over the Brooklyn Bridge to demonstrate our upset that CUNY4 a New Deal is hanging in the balance. Instead, the Chancellor is promising more cutbacks. 14 adjuncts at John Jay, many of whom have a 3-year contract, will not be reappointed next semester because the Humanities Department has been eliminated. CUNY has come out with its gloves on and the PSC once again, after one demonstration in front of CUNY central, has come up with no strategy, except to walk over the bridge to fight these draconian attacks against the working class of NYC. The Columbia adjuncts, the NYU and New School adjuncts have demonstrated the way forward: they all struck and while the union has staged acts of civil disobedience in the past (none of which worked) there is no plan now. In fact, the membership does not even know what the demands are that the union claims to be fighting for. Why is all of this being done in secrecy? While these other negotiating teams at least had open bargaining, we are invited to sign up to come to the negotiations, but we are not invited to say anything.
If the bureaucrats say but we can’t strike, the membership needs to say try to stop us. Besides the fact that tuition will go up for CUNY and SUNY students by $600, thousands of adjuncts, the poorest paid workers in the union will be sacked and since the union has never aggressively fought for free healthcare, the adjuncts will lose pay and will lose their healthcare as well. Class sizes will obviously increase, and the full-time faculty who had release time since they did work for the department, will lose it to make up for the shortage of adjuncts. This is all happening while the chancellor, perks, and all, makes around a million dollars a year and the CUNY Board of Trustees pay themselves through the Research Foundation. Many of these Trustees have pensions that are over $100,000 and are paid a salary that is equivalent to their pensions. Moreover, there are 112 billionaires in NYC alone, many of whom pay little to no taxes. There is plenty of money, but the working class is being required to pay for the deficit. We need to tax the rich and dump all of those Board members who do nothing but cut workers and programs while drawing large salaries. Governor Hochul and her buddies will never tax the rich unless forced to since she is in that category. In the meantime, buildings are crumbling at CUNY and people are nearly being hit by all the debris.
At the February 27th rally in front of CUNY central, none of the “leaders” said anything about the budget cuts. Barbara Bowen, our ex-president said even though in the past contracts people said it couldn’t be done, we did win outstanding contracts, and yet, while adjuncts called for a $7,000 minimum for a course many years ago, and in the last contract we called for $10,000 to make up for the fact that we did not earn even the $7,000 , now we are being rewarded with layoffs. No sell-out goes unpunished.
So what do we need to do? The members must demand democratic assemblies to discuss contract demands and strategy. This is a crisis that we have not faced since the 1970s when there were thousands of layoffs in NYC. We are now headed into those dark days again, but given the decline in the economy and the skyrocketing of interest rates, and the lack of any credible leadership in the city, the situation will grow ever dimmer. Union meetings must be held to discuss all these issues and if they are not, we must demand them; moreover, it is time to stop supporting the so-called friends of labor. NY is a Democratic Party town, and it is the Democrats who are effectively strangling the working class. It’s time to build our own party, a Labor Party based on the needs of workers. Thus, as part of this struggle, we must demand that the rich pay since they have caused this crisis and are profiting from it. Workers will continue to be laid off and those who are left will be driven by an ever-faster time clock. Workers will be pitted against each other. Already people are blaming the dismal economy on the immigrants. They are a super exploited group; we must defend their right to stay. Immigrants have been forced to move from their homes in Central and South America because the US has poisoned those countries with environmental hazards that the capitalists are not allowed to use here. We must not only defend their right to stay, but we need to call for splitting up the work that is necessary to be done, with all workers who want to work. The hours of work must be reduced with no loss in pay. It is the wealthy that is the problem, not the immigrants. Let’s build a party of our own. The gruesome trainwreck that happened in East Palestine happened because of speedup and the desire to increase profits. This is exactly what is happening in NY right now so whether we have the right to strike, we must do it anyway. The Railway workers didn’t strike because they were told they were not allowed to and within months a 2-mile-long train derailed and now the town is poisoned. More than 45,000 animals are already dead and unfortunately, the people of E. Palestine are being poisoned by the same toxic chemicals. Workers have a responsibility to stand up when they know something is wrong and whether or not we have the right to strike, the conditions will become more dire for all of us if we don’t.
We also need to unite with all public workers in New York which means rank and file unity which is what the union tops are terrified of. DC37 dissidents are organizing to oppose the contract. We must stand with them especially since there is pattern bargaining. What they get , we get. We need to go out together.United We Stand Divided We Fall and we have the power to win.
WE NEED A GENERAL STRIKE TO SHUT THE CITY DOWN. BUILD A MASS LABOR PARTY. TAX THE RICH!