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Submitting "Telecommuting" Plans

Apr 03, 2020

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Good afternoon, PSC Members,

I hope you are staying well and have had time to take care of yourselves and those you love.

The union continues to have to intervene in unilateral actions taken by CUNY management on issues that should be negotiated jointly. The past month has challenged all of us, but many of the workplace crises we have experienced could have been avoided through productive labor/management negotiations. The PSC will continue to press for comprehensive negotiations and assert our legal right to bargain changes in the terms and conditions of employment during the current emergency.

Yesterday I sent the message below to CUNY’s head of Labor Relations demanding immediate suspension of these college-issued “guidelines” and telecommuting plans. The PSC has the legal right to negotiate any changes in terms and conditions for work, hours, supervision and related issues. Also, two weeks ago the union made an explicit demand for reimbursement of expenses employees incurred at home doing required work that would not normally be conducted at home.

Dear Vice Chancellor Silverblatt:

It has come to PSC’s attention that several CUNY colleges have unilaterally issued communications to employees purporting to set policies regarding remote working arrangements. The guidelines and forms distributed include instructions about mandatorily negotiable subjects as well as modifications to contractual terms in the PSC-CUNY collective bargaining agreement. I am attaching the Graduate Center’s Telecommuting Plan, Guidelines and “Workplace Self-Certification” as an example. Although the union understands that the current situation has required creativity from CUNY management and staff, the governor’s “Pause Order” was issued twelve days ago and there has been no attempt to negotiate the telecommuting policies with the PSC. We demand that CUNY suspend implementation of these policies until the parties have had an opportunity to bargain over them.

The PSC is seeking suspension of the deadline to submit telecommuting plans/reports and hopes to have an update later today or early next week. In the meantime, for those who must submit forms today, the union recommends including the following statement:

“I am submitting this form under protest because I believe PSC has the legal right to bargain over the contractual terms and conditions covered in this form.”

I will update you as soon as we get a response to our demand for an immediate suspension of the requirement. Meanwhile, I wish you well and hope that you are able to take some time for yourselves over the weekend.

In solidarity,
Barbara Bowen
President, PSC/CUNY

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