The PSC is ready to bargain with CUNY about a possible vaccine mandate to protect public health and members’ rights.
It is clear that vaccination is the surest way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the lives and health of PSC members and CUNY students. We also know that the COVID vaccines have been proven to reduce the severity of breakthrough infections when they occur.
We want everyone on campus to be vaccinated, but we don’t want that requirement to be imposed on union members without a chance for negotiation over the terms.
Like many unions throughout the country (Washington Post, 9/16), the PSC is willing to negotiate about a possible vaccine mandate. We must protect the health of union members and the community and defend the legal and contractual rights of PSC members. We must also acknowledge and work to allay the concerns that some members have about vaccination.
The science proves that the COVID vaccines are safe and effective. The long history of public health policy shows how vaccine mandates help to end epidemics. But a unilateral mandate that denies CUNY workers a voice and squanders an opportunity to establish trust between CUNY workers and management about our health and safety would be unacceptable.
The PSC would seek to negotiate over a number of issues including: implementation and timing, due process for members who delay or refuse vaccination, and necessary exceptions, as well as other aspects of a possible mandate. Our union has supported vaccination throughout the pandemic. We pushed for the earliest possible vaccine eligibility for CUNY workers. We have consistently promoted vaccination, along with masking, adequate ventilation, and social distancing, as part of the ongoing campaign to ensure a safe reopening of CUNY facilities. We have even secured a $100,000 grant from our national affiliate, the AFT, to fund organizing with the CUNY Rising Alliance that will encourage and incentivize vaccination among students.
The PSC is favorably disposed to a possible vaccine mandate as an important step toward defeating the virus that has already claimed the lives of more than 34 thousand New Yorkers as long as management comes to the table and negotiates, and the rights of every union member are protected.