by Mike Lee | February 11, 2016
NEW YORK – AFSCME DC 37 took its campaign for adequate funding for the City University of New York (CUNY) to the state Capitol in Albany, calling on the Legislature to step up to the plate for higher education.
“If you believe that higher education is a priority then you are going to have to fund it in the proper way,” DC 37 Exec. Dir. Henry Garrido declared at a Feb. 8 news conference. “We believe that is a priority for not only who we represent, but also for the people in our communities who otherwise have no other opportunities to advance themselves.”
Garrido later testified at a legislative hearing about the CUNY funding issue.
In his proposed budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo shifts nearly $500 million in CUNY funding from the state to the city. DC 37 wants those funds restored – in part because the cost-shifting would impose a new financial burden on the city. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio vowed to fight the proposed cuts at CUNY “by any means necessary.”
The union and other CUNY supporters also want to stop the annual tuition hikes of $300, which students have faced for the last five years. The Cuomo budget calls for these increases to continue for an additional five years.
Speakers at the news conference also called upon legislators to approve a “maintenance-of-effort” bill that would guarantee funding for mandatory annual cost increases of the state and city university systems, and cover collective bargaining costs. CUNY employees represented by DC 37 have been working without a contract since 2010, and they have not received a raise since 2009.
Governor Cuomo in December vetoed an earlier maintenance-of-effort bill that the Assembly and the Senate had passed unanimously.
Andy Pallotta, executive vice president of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), said the money is there for contract settlements. “For year after year we were told, ‘we are broke, we have no money, you have to understand.’ This time around there is a $5 billion surplus. This money – during this budget session – must be used to take care of this.”
“This is a cause,” said Dr. Barbara Bowen, head of the Professional Staff Congress, which represents CUNY faculty and other professional workers. “What it really means is not killing CUNY and SUNY (the State University of New York) by the death of a thousand cuts. That is what the maintenance of effort is about.”
Learn more about how you can support CUNY workers and their fight for a fair contract at www.stopstarvingCUNY.org.
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