We hope your summer is off to a terrific start. The PSC has been working on a number of fronts, and we’re writing to update you on safety in reopening the campuses and on our delayed 2% raise.
Safe return to work
CUNY intends to begin bringing staff and library faculty back to in-person work the week of August 2. It is their responsibility to ensure the safety of the workplace and the PSC’s responsibility to hold them accountable. We have prepared for the transition and demanded that CUNY make science-based decisions. Over 200 PSC members have been trained by our Health & Safety Watchdogs to accompany administrators on pre-occupancy walkthroughs of facilities slated to reopen. Many chapters have scheduled walkthroughs already, and CUNY has begun approving college reopening plans. At York, CCNY, BMCC, Hostos CC, Brooklyn, Baruch, Kingsborough CC, and the School of Labor & Urban Studies, walkthroughs may begin if they haven’t already, and others will follow soon. We expect that all colleges should have started or scheduled walkthroughs by early next week. Many chapters have reported that college administrations are taking effective steps to protect the health and safety of the campus communities. Our “flying squads” of PSC members are preparing to pursue actions on campuses where administrations are unresponsive to our walkthrough agreement, or where problems persist. You can sign up for walkthrough training here and for a “flying squad” here.
CUNY Central issued modified reopening guidelines for the Fall semester on July 1. They are premised on two assumptions: continued suppression of COVID-19 in New York City and a high rate of vaccination among those on campus. However, the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant and uneven vaccination rates across the city mean that CUNY must remain vigilant and plan for the possible risks of on-campus transmission. CUNY’s guidelines answer a number of questions and concerns but raise several others. They are silent about how vaccination and testing status will be tracked, unclear about whether students taking in-person classes will in fact be vaccinated, and allow unvaccinated members of the campus community to enter with proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 7 days, a window that is too wide to effectively minimize risk. The guidelines understate the importance of good ventilation to deter the spread of a lethal airborne disease. Moreover, they ask us to rely on an honor system regarding masking and distancing, an expectation that is unrealistic and unsafe in “mixed” environments of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. We need clarity on entrance screening and certainty on the vaccination status of in-person students. We are seeking protocols for more frequent testing of unvaccinated individuals and randomized surveillance testing of the campus community. Attention to ventilation must be paramount, particularly in high-traffic areas, and guidance on masking and occupancy must be consistent and explicit. Given the uncertainty of the pandemic’s future course, CUNY should be flexible regarding remote work and timelines for returning to campus and rely on science, not politics, to guide decisions. We are meeting with CUNY to discuss these and other responses to their guidelines, and we are grateful to our Health and Safety leaders for their insights on practices that will prevent the virus from entering campus and limit its spread if present.
Like many of you, we share the hope and excitement of returning to work with students and colleagues again, but any return to work should be a safe return. The PSC strongly recommends that faculty and staff get vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination is the single most effective way to protect ourselves and our families and bolster public health in the face of a vicious pandemic. CUNY must do its part, and all of us who can should do ours as well.
Delayed November 2020 2% raise
CUNY has circulated guidance to college Human Resources offices about paying our long-awaited November 15, 2020 2% contractual raise. It is unconscionable that CUNY employees had to wait nearly a year for our raise and retroactive payment. In 2020, CUNY and other state entities delayed raises in violation of collective bargaining agreements, in anticipation of severe budget shortfalls at the State and City levels. Federal relief helped to avert that crisis this spring, but it’s taken until now for CUNY to schedule – and for the State to process – the delayed 2% raise and the retroactive payment of foregone earnings.
- October 7, 2021 is the pay date for the lump sum payment of our salary increase retroactive to November 15, 2020 for State-funded employees (Senior Colleges).
- October 15, 2021 is the pay date for the lump sum salary increase retroactive to November 15, 2020 for City-funded employees (Community Colleges).
All employees who were eligible for a salary step increase on January 1, 2021 will have that step reflected in their retroactive payment. Employees who were eligible for a salary step increase on July 1, 2021 will have that step reflected in their retroactive payment (this date applies to adjunct faculty who have taught six consecutive semesters, per Article 24.2(b)). CUNY has announced that the November 2021 2% across-the-board raise will be in our paychecks in November 2021, consistent with the contract.
Faculty and staff have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep this university running and maintain a high quality of instruction and student support; we deserve better. We have effectively subsidized the university’s operation with a no-interest loan from our salaries. The PSC is seeking an earlier implementation date with the Office of the State Comptroller and CUNY management.
Our sincere thanks to PSC members for your ongoing efforts after a very trying year. Although the future is not fully predictable, together we are preparing for the contingencies ahead, inspired by your continued thoughtfulness, activism, and expressions of solidarity.
James Davis, President
Andrea Vásquez, First Vice President
Felicia Wharton, Treasurer
Penny Lewis, Secretary