December 20, 2021
Congratulations on reaching the end of the semester. The end of fall semester 2021 is proving to be as rocky as its beginning. The unwelcome arrival of the new Omicron variant has likely thrown many plans into disarray. I write with the hope nevertheless that this finds you safe, in good health, and with the opportunity to enjoy a break at year’s end.
Safety has been our watchword at the PSC, and I’m writing to notify you of our communication to the Chancellor this weekend in response to the latest COVID surge – see below. We hope that the administration will contact the CUNY community shortly with an update. As you know, the PSC had been urging a more flexible approach to Spring 2022 before the Omicron variant arrived, and our sign-on petition on these matters is even more urgent now. The rigidity of the university’s mandates, reiterated last Wednesday, is misguided.
Please know that your union is here and available to you. The union office is officially closed December 23, 24, 30, and 31. Once again, wishing you and yours a healthy and safe holiday season.
James Davis, President
Letter to Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, December 19, 2021
The scale of the recent COVID surge in the city and the tri-state area has us deeply concerned. I’m sure you share that concern and are consulting regularly with state and city health authorities. Various private universities in the state and city have reduced their on-campus presence in response to alarming rates of infection. I’m writing to urge you to take the following measures to keep employees and students safe while maintaining academic and operational continuity.
For the professional staff: Starting now through the end of January, non-essential employees should be given the choice to work remotely. CUNY should make a new assessment mid-January about the expectations for in-person and remote work in Spring 2022 semester.
For faculty and students: Winter intersession should be fully online. CUNY should take the current COVID surge as an occasion to re-evaluate the 70% in-person minimum across the university in Spring 2022 semester.
For the CUNY community and the city: CUNY should seek the Governor’s consent to initiate negotiations with the labor unions representing CUNY employees on implementation of a COVID vaccine mandate with the goal to implement prior to the start of Spring 2022 semester.
The number of new COVID cases in the tri-state area has not been this high since late January 2021, according to CDC data. In NYC, the 14-day average of daily infections is up 194% today, according to the New York Times. This is the time to take decisive action and exercise the prudence demanded by these rapidly worsening conditions.
James Davis, President, PSC/CUNY