HEOs United

Public Group active 7 years, 7 months ago

second class citizens

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    Why HEOs are the Underclass of the PSC
    By Diogenes of CUNY
    Part 1: Under Supported and Marginalized. At every CUNY college, there is an official PSC Union Faculty Chapter dedicated to serve needs of the faculty at that campus. It is run by officers elected from the chapter membership (chapter chair, vice chair, secretary, officers at large, delegates, etc), and they constitute a chapter’s Executive Committee as per the PSC Constitution. Their primary function is to serve, organize, and support the faculty union members at that specific campus, and to represent that chapter at the union delegate assembly. In most cases there are 10 or 20 of these official faculty union positions at each campus (depending on how many members in the chapter), positions that can be held by either full or part time faculty. Of these titles, there are 6 elected non-delegate union positions (Vice Chair, Secretary, and 4 officers at large) dedicated to support the faculty at every campus. So in the 23 CUNY schools, that totals 138 people whose job it is to exclusively advocate for and support faculty union members at their school. Additionally, there are 2 union grievance counselors appointed to each College to exclusively handle faculty grievance issues for that campus. Union headquarters also assigns funds (usually several thousand dollars) to each of these faculty chapters, and the chapter executive committee represents the membership in the contractually mandated Labor Management meetings with the President. It doesn’t matter whether there are 15 faculty union members at a College or 500, the PSC Constitution declares that all full and part time faculty members at each campus are entitled to have their own official chapter organization, representation, support, and funding that is dedicated exclusively to advancing the goals of the faculty membership at that campus. For the HEOs, the story is much different. The HEOs have one chapter to represent all 2160 members spread out across 5 boroughs of New York. It is easily twice the size of any faculty chapter, and only the Retiree chapter is larger. Yet there is only 1 chapter chair and 6 other officers for all of them. So the HEO officers not only have to travel to 23 distinct locations to interact with their constituents, they have twice as many members as any campus faculty chapter to try and reach. Some campus HEO union constituencies are in fact larger than entire faculty chapters. In the past 10 years of her reign it is doubtful that the current HEO chapter chair can remember more than some of the names of all the HEOs she has met, let alone have the time or resources to fully understand the political climates or unique challenges that are faced at the different schools, or be able to get involved to any real degree with the lives of the people she serves. It is frankly impossible for a cross campus chapter chair with such a large constituency to organize and maintain an active HEO membership at 23 CUNY schools, let alone be able to effectively respond to (the often simultaneous) issues that arise at each of the institutions with only 7 officers. That’s because unlike the faculty, there is no official union infrastructure in place at each campus dedicated to that purpose. As mentioned earlier, there are many elected union administrative personnel scattered across CUNY dedicated solely to support their fellow full and part time faculty members at the respective campuses. The HEOs have NONE: Plainly put, compared to the faculty, the current system ensures that the HEOs are under supported and remain weak. Also, unlike the faculty, there is no one stationed at ANY campus whose job it is to provide grievance counseling for HEOs. HEOs must call union headquarters and it is often hit or miss whether there is a HEO grievance counselor available. Additionally, the HEOs do not have ANY formal mechanism to enter into direct labor management discussions with the College Presidents, as do the faculty. In true paternalistic fashion, HEOs must appeal to the faculty chapter in the hope that they will bring a HEO issue to the table in their meetings with the President. It must also be mentioned at this time that there is a special group of HEOs that has the worst of everything; they are contractually excluded from being in the union because of the “managerial” nature of their jobs, yet the PSC still negotiates their salaries, benefits, and they are still HEOs in every other way, except that they have NO 13.3b protection. They can NEVER have a voice in their own working conditions and are completely disenfranchised. The number of HEOs in this situation is not insignificant, and may be as high as 200. The PSC Union leadership has repeatedly negotiated to KEEP these HEOs OUT of the union, and this further weakens the HEOs overall. While at some campuses the local faculty chapter shares support and resources with the HEOs, this is only a one way street, done at the discretion of the faculty. Unless authorized by the faculty leadership of the local chapter, HEOs are officially excluded from holding any position or having any participation in the faculty chapter up to and including being eligible to attend chapter meetings or events….including holiday parties. They can be excluded even though they could provide valuable expertise and support regarding many campus issues. That the HEOs are desperate for real union campus representation and support is made obvious by the “HEO Associations” that have spontaneously sprung into existence at many campuses over the years. Groups of HEOs resorted to organizing themselves locally with little or no union help. And although these organizations have been popular with the HEOs and allowed them join together to discuss workplace concerns, they have no official union authority to advocate for anything or anybody, no clearly defined union related responsibilities, nor do they exist in any official capacity as legitimate PSC entities. Conclusion The PSC Union Constitution was deliberately skewed by the faculty leaders of the PSC from the very beginning to marginalize the ability of the HEOs to advocate effectively and to keep them from having a fair share of power within the union. The intent has always been this; that no matter how many units are incorporated into the PSC (adjuncts, HEOs, CLTs, RF, etc), the union would always be completely controlled by and run primarily for the benefit of the full time faculty. For a New Caucus Union leadership that constantly trumpets their solidarity and how they stand together side by side with other union groups such as the bakers of Stella D’Oro, it is remarkably hypocritical then that they persist in maintaining a system that ensures that the HEOs remain without an adequate measure of support within their own union. It is unlikely that the current situation will change. The HEO chapter chair for the last 10 years was from the New Caucus, and has done nothing to address this inequity, even though it would be in her own best interest to do so. It’s not surprising though. The New Caucus is tightly controlled by a small group, and although from time to time they feign concern for HEO issues, they have little or no real interest in the HEOs outside of making sure their dues money continues to roll in. This much is certain; the leaders of the New Caucus will never allow anyone to run on their HEO slate who would seek to change the status quo in any meaningful way. What this ultimately means is that with regard to the HEOs, the current New Caucus leadership of the union is doing management’s job for them. They are deliberately keeping the HEOs weak and under supported, thus unable to effectively advocate for better working conditions. Next:
    Part 2: Hit Where it Hurts the Most.

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