PSC and CUNY Settle Substitute Grievance

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September 7, 2010. The PSC and CUNY entered into an important settlement agreement affecting the use of substitutes by the University that will end the abuse of the substitute title and establish new rights for PSC members who serve in substitute titles. The PSC filed a grievance against CUNY for management’s abuse of the substitute title sometime ago, which both the PSC and CUNY were able to resolve while the grievance was pending at arbitration. The settlement was signed on August 6, 2010 and will be effective for substitute appointments made on or after the start of the spring 2011 semester.

The grievance was filed when we discovered that many colleges were in violation of the contract by using the substitute title as a utility temporary appointment instead of a substitute appointment for an already existing position, claiming they needed staffing flexibility. The CBA says in Article 9.7, “Substitutes are temporary employees appointed to fill vacancies caused by leaves and/or emergencies; such persons shall have no presumption of retention.” College administrators were defining “emergencies” very broadly and in many cases assigning “substitute lines” to departments and offices when there were no leaves or credible emergencies. CUNY policy limited substitute service to two years, but many individuals were working as substitutes for more than the specified time-limit. HEOs, in particular, were kept in substitute titles for years without accruing service credit toward 13.3(b) status. In some semesters, more than 500 substitute appointments per semester were being assigned.

The union’s position was that this abuse violated the contract, was unfair to individual instructional staff members, and undermined the University’s stated goal of hiring more permanent full-time faculty and professional administrative staff. The union’s goals in pursuing this case and entering into this settlement were to stop CUNY’s abuse of the substitute title, clarify when substitutes can legitimately be used, establish new rights for members, and provide incentives for CUNY management to hire more permanent instructional staff.

The “substitute” settlement agreement provides the following rights and protections for those holding substitute titles:

  • The substitute title can be used only in those cases where a position already exists or a position is being created and such position is clearly defined. Positions must be department or office specific. Time limits are established for use of the substitute title to fill a defined position. The agreement specifies that a substitute appointment may not occur for more than 1) four consecutive semesters during the pendency of a search for a faculty position, or 2) up to two six-month periods during a search to fill a non-teaching position, or 3) during the duration of vacancies in a department or office owing to authorized leaves of absence.
  • The Agreement establishes new time limits for individuals serving in substitute titles. Individuals may serve as a substitute in a teaching capacity at a college for no more than four semesters out of any six semesters, and in a non-teaching capacity at a college, for no more than two six-month periods out of any twenty-four months. After reaching the above limits, an individual must wait for four semesters (in the case of serving in a teaching capacity) or twelve months (in the case of serving in a non-teaching capacity) before serving as a substitute again in any instructional staff title.
  • The Agreement establishes new rights and codifies existing policy for instructional staff members in substitute titles as follows:

A. An employee appointed as a substitute in a HEO title shall receive up to two years of service credit if he or she receives an appointment to a certificate-bearing HEO position immediately following the substitute appointment at the same college.
B. Service immediately preceding the substitute appointment will be added to the continuous tenure or certificate-bearing service immediately following the substitute service as though there were no break in service for purposes of counting years served, time to tenure, CCE and 13.3b.
C. Service as a substitute shall count for purposes of movement within salary schedule and salary schedule changes.
D. Substitutes must be evaluated in accordance with the guidelines of Article 18 of the contract, and it is understood that substitutes shall not be required to have a research commitment.
E. A substitute shall have the same right to employee health, welfare and pension benefits that other employees hired on regular full-time lines have. The leave regulations applicable to the regular position being substituted shall be applied to the substitute.
F. Where waivers are granted (see below), and substitutes in faculty titles are appointed to a fifth consecutive semester at the same college, the “teaching contact hour workload” for the individual in the substitute title shall be the same as the underlying non-substitute title for that fifth semester and all subsequent consecutive semesters.

The settlement agreement provides for the possibility of waivers with respect to the above time-limits—such as when a search fails and is reauthorized. Prior to this agreement, CUNY could, and did, ignore its policy with respect to substitutes. Under this agreement, both the PSC’s and CUNY’s agreement will be needed to waive the stated time-limits. The PSC Contract Enforcement Committee will develop a waiver policy and procedure that will carefully restrict the issuance of waivers.

Finally, it is the understanding of the PSC that the settlement agreement’s implementation in Spring 2011 will count time already served as a substitute, thus the position and individual time-limits specified in the settlement agreement will immediately take effect.

Click here for settlement agreement

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