CUNY Digital History Archive

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Oral History Interview with Debra Bergen

In this oral history interview Debra Bergen, Director of Contract Administration at the PSC (Professional Staff Congress) from 1991 to 2017, discusses her early influences, the trajectory of her career and her contributions to the PSC. Born into a family with left political beliefs, Bergen was initially exposed to the importance of the labor movement while working at Syracuse University in 1978, when the UAW (United Automobile Workers) organized a campaign for the university’s clerical workers. In 1986, after having worked as an organizer at 1199 SEIU (United Health Care Workers), she enrolled in a joint master's program at Baruch College (CUNY) and Cornell for a degree in Labor and Industrial Relations. Upon graduation, Debra Bergen was hired as Director of Contract Administration at the PSC

As the union matured, and the top union leadership changed in 2000, chapter leaders and members became more involved in contract enforcement. Bergen’s department expanded and a PSC organizing department was formed. Bergen describes how grievances were handled under two PSC administrations and how the union transitioned into one in which members were included in handling grievances and making decisions on grievances and arbitration. Bergen was responsible for training and hiring contract coordinators, working with member grievance counselors and PSC organizing staff, and developing training programs for the membership to more fully understand and participate in contract enforcement. As new contracts were ratified and new benefits implemented, she continued to supervise and work closely with chapter leaders on grievance counseling, and contract enforcement.

Source | Professional Staff Congress/CUNY (PSC)
Creator | Yellowitz, Irwin
Date Created | November 22, 2016

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Interviewers | Yellowitz, Irwin

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Interviewees | Bergen, Debra
Rights | Copyright Professional Staff Congress/CUNY (PSC)
Item Type | Oral History
Cite This document | Yellowitz, Irwin, “Oral History Interview with Debra Bergen,” CUNY Digital History Archive, accessed November 19, 2019,

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