A Historical Overview

 Once upon a time, eons ago (1951), in a galaxy more than just a few light-years away … the nucleus of what would later become Local 384 began to take shape and within a year’s time, as is frequently the case, the infant took its first tentative strides forward.

In 1951 there was neither CUNY nor Gittleson. There was, however, a governing body (the Board of Higher Education) which had jurisdiction over the institutions that would one day become CUNY. The personnel in these institutions, in addition to those holding faculty titles and professional, non­ instructional titles, consisted of various support staff e.g. clerical assistants (by far the largest group), appliance operators, telephone operators, messengers, keypunch operators, office machine operators, plus custodial and maintenance workers.


In February 1952, the New York State legislature enacted a bill (listed in the New York State Charter as Education Law 6202a). This bill was introduced by then State Senator Harry Gittleson and, henceforth, the employees covered by the provisions of the bill were referred to as Gittlesons.

In brief, this unprecedented bill provided for the division of the Board of Higher Education Clerical Assistants into three groups having Civil Service status:

College Office Assistant and College Secretarial Assistant “A” – (the secretarial title designated those with stenographic skills; to qualify one had to be tested on and pass an additional examination -therewas, however, no pay differential for the skill); College Office Assistant and College Secretarial Assistant “B”, and, College Office Assistant and College Secretarial Assistant “C”.

Further, this bill mandated the following percentages of employees within each title: No more than 40% of the titled staff could be in the “A” category, no more than 45% of the titled staff could be in the “B” category; and not less than 15% of the titled staff within the “C” category. This was the first time in the history of Civil Service that a percentage promotion had been written into law, making Gittleson employees extremely unique.

Eleven years later, in October 1963, feeling they were not being taken seriously or receiving equitable representation, Gittlesons and other support staff took another bold step; they voted to change their bargaining unit from ” the Legislative Conference” (currently known as PSC; the Professional Staff Congress), to become part of AFSCME, District Council 37, and they were given the numerical designation for their Local of 384.

Present day Local 384 membership total hovers around 2,000. The membership is comprised of approximately 90% in the Gittleson titles with other support staff titles plus EOC employees making up the other 10%.

Our members work at 19 CUNY campuses and three EOC’s.


The “FLOOR” – PROVIDES MEANINGFUL, CONTRACTUALLY MANDATED JOB SECURITY which cites an actual, total number of employees which MUST, contractually be maintained.

For what we have and enjoy today, and what too many take for granted, for this legacy, we owe a debt of gratitude to our predecessors.

Neither the milestone achievements nor any other contractual gains made by the Local were gifts of management … Each and every step forward, or foothold just to stay in place and not step backwards was because of the vision, dedication, and diligence of those who came before us.

It was their fighting the hard battles and going the extra miles, through long and difficult negotiations time and again, that made Local 384 the mouse that roars