Since this summer, CUNY management has angered professional staff by unilaterally imposing an inflexible new time-sheet system that they say does not reflect the realities of their jobs. Now employees in Higher Education Officer (HEO), College Lab Technician (CLT) and Research series titles are taking action together through a CUNY-wide petition campaign – and they are insisting that management listen.
The new system “insults our professionalism,” the petition reads, with a “rigid time-sheet format [that] reveals a lack of understanding of the work we do and of the complexity of the university workplace.”
The petition calls on CUNY to negotiate with the PSC on the impact of implementation of the new time-sheet system. It also demands that any system for recording time worked at CUNY reflect the commitment and the professionalism of the professional staff, the complexity of their jobs and the variability of their schedules, and that it facilitate compensation for work performed beyond the contractual 35-hour workweek.
City Tech CLTs Jacqueline Elliott (left) and David Bartow (right) watch as their colleague Alberto Rivera (center) signs the time-sheet petition.
Once signature gathering is completed, the petition will be presented to interim Chancellor William Kelly as a part of an ongoing campaign. The PSC website will soon provide a way for CUNY faculty to express support for their professional staff colleagues.
Professional staff say the new time sheets assume that they are 9-to-5 employees, when, in fact, they often work at night or on weekends, and that its one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t allow them to accurately record the time they work. Many also report that supervisors don’t permit recording time worked beyond 35 hours, even when the job requires it.
“We’re demanding respect and professional consideration, and we want this time-sheet system to reflect the reality of how we work,” said Iris DeLutro, PSC Vice President for Cross Campus Units and HEO Chapter Chair. “The CLT Chapter is very receptive to this petition drive,” said CLT Chapter Chair Albert Sherman, who has visited his colleagues at five campuses to date.
HEOs and CLTs at BMCC and City Tech began circulating the petition among their colleagues in early November. Union members at other CUNY campuses officially launched their petition drives on November 13, at a joint meeting of the HEO and CLT chapters.
At City Tech, HEOs formed a steering committee for the petition campaign with about a dozen members. “With a steering committee, it makes it easier to take petitions around,” said HEO Associate Cindy Bink, one of the committee’s lead organizers.
“There are even top administrators at the college that are sympathetic,” Bink, added, noting that many administrators are unhappy about having to deal with thousands of pieces of extra paperwork every month.
City Tech CLTs also established a steering committee of about a dozen people, which met for the first time on October 30. Steering committee members left that meeting with petitions in hand. When they met again a week later, all 39 full-time CLTs at City Tech had signed.
“People are tired of doing the time sheets,” said Jacqueline Elliott, a Senior CLT in the Biology Department. “We already have a lot of work piled on us.”
The petition campaign has also been well received at BMCC. Forty-five HEOs turned out for a lunchtime meeting on Nov. 1, at which plans for the petition drive were discussed. John Gallagher, a HEO Delegate, has started gathering signatures and says he has yet to be turned down.
“Everyone is mad,” Gallagher said. “People feel they are being professionally disrespected.”
BMCC Senior CLT Luis-Alfredo Cartagena has gathered 17 signatures from CLTs located in seven departments. He calls the time sheet “another attack on the union” that, like Pathways, must be resisted.
“If you’re not going to fight for yourself and your brothers and sisters, who’s going to do it?” Cartagena asked.