Chancellor Matos-Rodríguez’s reply to my letter demanding negotiations on the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on our terms and conditions of employment indicates that the University is not willing to negotiate with the union at this time on procedures relative to the COVID-19 epidemic. The PSC believes his position is a mistake, an insult to the 30,000 people the PSC represents, and a failure to meet a legal obligation.
But the union’s immediate focus remains on the health and wellbeing of the faculty and staff we represent, especially those whose health may be at serious risk. Therefore we are providing the guidance below for faculty and professional staff who are at serious health risk if they continue to work on campus.
We are aware of the calls from the University Student Senate and from many faculty and staff to close the University, and we will have a further update later today. But the PSC leadership believes it is essential to provide guidance for our members that can be acted upon immediately.
The guidance applies equally to staff and faculty, to part-time, hourly and full-time employees represented by the PSC. Even if you are in a position that normally requires presence on campus, such as college laboratory technician, librarian or financial aid counselor, you need to be able to protect yourself if you are in a higher risk category.
Unfortunately, a student at John Jay College has tested positive for COVID-19. John Jay buildings will be closed today. The John Jay president reports that the student is recovering safely at home, and we join our John Jay colleagues in wishing her well.
Thank you for the support you have offered to students and each other during this public health crisis. The effect of years of inadequate funding for CUNY becomes dangerously apparent in a crisis, when even basic supplies like soap and paper towels are not available in some campus bathrooms. The union’s demand for increased funding for CUNY has become more urgent than ever. Please join the day of action on the budget tomorrow, and know that many of the ways to participate include actions you can take remotely.
My thanks again for all the messages you have sent. If you have questions about the guidelines below, please contact the PSC office: 212-354-1252.
PSC Guidance on the Use of Sick Days and Working Remotely During the COVID-19 Epidemic
March 11, 2020
In the absence of a willingness on the part of CUNY management at this time to negotiate specific procedures for PSC bargaining unit members who are at serious health risk if they continue to work on campus, the PSC provides the following guidance. The guidance applies equally to staff and faculty, to part-time, hourly and full-time employees represented by the PSC.
1. If you are unwell, regardless of whether your illness appears to be related to COVID-19, stay home. Use your temporary disability leave or sick leave under the contract or, for adjuncts and certain other hourly employees, your contractual personal/emergency leave. If you do not have sufficient sick days, contact the union office.
2. Effective March 11, 2020: If you are in a title represented by the PSC and you are in a higher-risk category of contracting COVID-19 as identified by the Centers for Disease Control, or if you share a residence with someone who would be at serious risk if infected with COVID-19, and you believe you should temporarily work from home or other off-campus location, you should be permitted to do so—provided that you notify your College Human Resources Office and notify your department chair or immediate supervisor as to how you will continue to fulfill your work responsibilities while temporarily not on campus. You should be prepared to provide supporting documentation of your circumstances.
Once you are working remotely, you should fulfill your work obligations, and you are strongly advised to document the work you perform each day.
If you are told you are not permitted to work remotely, maintain your regular schedule during that day and contact the PSC immediately.