Competitive salaries for CUNY College Laboratory Technicians (CLT’s)

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Summary

The PSC has completely reneged on their promise to get a fair wage increase for the most vulnerable chapter in the union, the College Laboratory Technicians (CLT's). Because our numbers are small, we are often forgotten and disregarded, but also because our numbers are so small it wouldn't take much for the union to stick to their guns and fight for our demands the way they are fighting for the adjunct professors. The monetary cost is minimal. We fully support the fight for an equitable increase for adjuncts, but do not believe it needs to be at the expense of the CLT's. The PSC is capable of fighting for us both and should do so.

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Open Letter on CLT demands and the union's counterproposals to CUNY

Dear Barbara et al.

Thank you for sharing with us at last Thursday's DA meeting the PSC bargaining team's counterproposal to CUNY in this contract fight, AKA the document entitled, "The Union's March 14 [, 2019] Counterproposal." While we generally support the bargaining team's endeavors, after discussing with other members, we are writing to express our deep dismay and displeasures with the union's counter offer.

We regret the PSC bargaining team's decision in not consulting with the elected officers of the College Laboratory Technicians (CLT) Chapter while making this counterproposal. We have a responsibility to our 1,000 full-time and adjunct College Laboratory Technicians to advocate for them and an obligation to level the field for our members. Within the bargaining unit, we are comprised of 53% full-time CLTs and 47% adjunct CLTs.

While we support our teaching adjuncts in their quest for $7K per course, and can sympathize and emphasize with their struggles, we would like to reiterate the CLT Chapter's main points and positions as it pertains to economic inequality, social unionism, and labor injustice. Additional materials sourced at the PSC CLT Chapter website (https://psc-cuny.org/college-lab-technicians and poignantly encapsulated by the CLT who spoke at the September 27, 2018 Contract Rally.

College Laboratory Technicians have a longstanding history with City University of New York (CUNY) professors tracing one of our roots to the early days of City College. The CLT position has branches in the Legislative Conference, Board of Education, and NYC Civil Service. And the CLT title pre-dates the formation of CUNY and many modern titles to include, Higher Education Officers, Lectures, and Graduate Assistants.

College Laboratory Technicians are professionals and have been held back financially for decades. CLTs have been voicing their concerns about the lack of advancement, staffing shortages, excessive workloads, and health and safety. As a society, we are living through the scientific, technological and information revolutions and while some industries have compensated workers for these shifts in this new technological era, CUNY has not properly or adequately compensated CLTs for adjusting and complying with new CUNY demands.

Due to a 1986 arbitral ruling reaffirming CUNY's sole rights on CLT promotion criteria and procedures, this outdated policy remains in effect today and needs to be repealed and replaced. In the 1975-1981 contract, a new CLT title series was created truncating CLT A, B, C to CLT and Senior CLT positions, thus affecting CLT abilities to be promoted. Furthermore, the percentage goals of promotional opportunities for CLTs cited in Article 22 remain at the same 1972 expired contract levels between the Board and the Legislative Conference, namely to reach goals in each college of 10% in the Chief CLT title, 25% in the Senior CLT title, and 65% in the CLT title. These antiquated rulings and verdicts need to be changed in order to bring CLTs in line to comparable in today's job market and industry standards.

The CLT salary schedule experienced a significant shift in 2001 ($3,200 - $3,600 per step increase) through the 2000-2002 settled contract because of severely depressed wages and other factors. Since this early contract won through the elected Caucus, our dues paying members have been expressing their displeasure with the union's practice of applying across-the-board increases for compounded over the years, it has led to a widening financial gap that is not only unaffordable for living in the New York metropolitan area, but does not take into account the significant increases in workload placed upon, demanded and required of CLTs.

For the lowest paid title, our CLT union brothers and sisters lag behind economically and are not awarded the recognition the rightfully earned. As a result, moral is depressed, community-building efforts are hindered, grassroots efforts are hampered, and party unification is near impossible.

As you know, all College Laboratory Technicians were deeply disappointed with the CLT contract gains won in the last contract (2010-2017). In short, the sentiment shared across the bow of the CLT Chapter is we were "shafted in the last contract" and we continue to be "shammed" through successive contract settlements.

The 2017-2020 elected officers of the CLT Chapter have continued to work tirelessly to dispel myths and be active agents to (1) rebuild trust; (2) restore confidence; (3) advocate for renewed hope; (4) promote faith; (5) educate; (6) develop leaders; and (7) and mobilize the membership as it pertains to union matters, the labor movement, and CUNY.

Across CUNY, the number of CLTs is rapidly declining, thus affecting workforce stability, growth, retention, and safety of all concerned. College Laboratory Technicians continue to be de-professionalized and hollowed out at CUNY with no end in sight. The bullying of CLTs runs rampant across CUNY and within our own union. Last October, the CLT Chapter adopted a Dignity at Work Policy to address workplace bullying, bullying prevention, and how union brothers and sisters treat one another.

Despite all the roadblocks placed in front of us, through volunteer efforts and one-on-one conversations we have been able to achieve 98% full-time CLT dues paying membership and 47% adjunct CLT membership post Janus.

Moving forward, the same levels of CLT membership (re-)commitments cannot be guaranteed given the current breach in contract negotiations. The union's counter offer, specifically on the equity increase for CLTs comes nowhere close to the CLT Chapter's proposal submitted to the bargaining team mid-2018 for an entire CLT salary restructuring, salary increases, and increase in differentials for advanced degrees.

To review, our proposal amounted to roughly $4.5 million to be distributed $5K for Chief CLTs, $7K for Senior CLTs, and $10K for CLTs. Given the small numbers of CLTs across CUNY and at EOCs, this averages to less than $5K per CLT. We also proposed increasing the advanced degree differentials to $2,500 for a master’s level degree and $5,000 for a doctorate. Our proposal would be the bare minimum to compensate College Laboratory Technicians for the work they have already been doing throughout the decades. We have been living in the day and age where it actually pays more financially to be working as a UFT K-12 Laboratory Specialist or Laboratory Technician.

Generally speaking, K-12 prepares students for college, whereas college prepares students for gainful employment and careers on a global scale in varying industries, sectors, and vocations. This begs the questions of “What is a CLT worth?, What is the value of a CLT?, and Do CLTs not deserve better?”

As you know, full-time faculty and CLTs are members of the instructional staff; both receive tenure under the NYS Education Law and both share responsibilities for teaching and educating students and are protected under academic freedom. No longer will CLTs stand to be dismissed and “banned” from using statements of CLTs teach, train, instruct, and advise students. We will no longer allow others to redefine the proper words that characterize the nature and character of our works. In this regard, CLTs are united and could never be defeated!

While in our discussions groups at the last DA meeting (March 14, 2019), we received potential figures of $1,000 - $1,500 per step increase for full-time CLTs as the union's counterproposal to CUNY management. We want to be clear when we state: this equity increase offered by our union is completely unacceptable to our CLT members. We CLTs demand better!

Given the deep divides within our PSC union and the tensions that have surfaced due to fissures, cracks and broken trust, our CLTs are requesting a special meeting with the President of our union to address their concerns and the union's commitment to CLTs.

The CLT Chapter is agreeable to host a CLT General Membership Meeting this Spring 2019 or at your earliest convenience to provide you and the bargaining team an opportunity to address our aforementioned concerns and unresolved issues.

The CLT Chapter has faced many injustices throughout the years and we call upon you to take a pronounced stand and position as a union to model what it means to not follow in Wall Street executives' behaviors to line their own pockets under the guise of upward mobility. We must all earn a living wage to be able to afford the basic necessities of air, water, food, shelter, clothing, rest and sleep in order to survive and thrive. We have a social and moral responsibility to be kind to each other, exercise dignity and practice respect. We have an ethical responsibility to our profession as educators and as agents of social change.

Respectfully,
Albert Sherman, Chair, PSC CLT Chapter
Amy Jeu, Vice Chair, PSC CLT Chapter; and PSC CLT Grievance Counselor
on behalf of the PSC CLT Chapter

"The true measure of a union is defined by how it treats its lesser members." - Michael Hirigoyen, 2015

 

We, the undersigned, fully support the open letter above and expect a response from the PSC.

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