News & Events

Spring semester begins January 28. Many members of the CUNY community may be ill with COVID, recovering and isolating after illness, or caring for family members. The path of the omicron variant is not fully predictable. Despite widespread expectation among public health officials that infections may soon subside in NYC, the hospitalization and fatality rates, which lag behind infections, continue to rise, and infections are likely underreported given the prevalence of at-home testing. The strain on families and institutions, particularly the City’s healthcare system, is considerable.

CUNY intends to offer at least 70% of classes in-person this Spring. Their continued rigidity around this contributes to scheduling difficulties, stress, and enrollment shortfalls. Despite the eagerness that we and our students share about returning to in-person learning and the supportive environment that flourishes on campus, pandemic conditions in the City highlight the need to improve conditions on our campuses first.

  • Community safety dictates that CUNY should make the first two weeks of spring semester a transition period where most non-essential work and teaching is done remotely. Planning ahead for a discrete two-week window is the least disruptive path to a safer, more in-person Spring term.
  • The State mandated vaccination for CUNY faculty and a booster for students, but is not requiring vaccinations for staff. This is a mistake from a public health perspective and as a matter of workplace equity. CUNY should immediately negotiate the terms of the vaccine implementation for all members of the PSC.
  • CUNY surveillance testing should be enhanced so a larger percentage of the vaccinated members of the campus community are regularly tested and the results clearly reported and tracked over time on CUNY’s COVID dashboard.
  • CUNY should direct federal relief funds to provide medical-grade masks to members of the campus community on-site, along with free rapid test kits.

The PSC sent a letter on January 12 to Mayor Eric Adams noting that our ”active members and retirees—who oppose the further privatization of Medicare—were filled with hope when you expressed skepticism about the proposal several months ago.” The letter made a simple and direct ask: “The PSC calls on you to carefully examine and reconsider the previous administration’s decision to convert premium-free health insurance for New York City retirees from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan (MA+).”

The letter pointed to PSC President James Davis’ testimony at a hearing conducted by the NYC Office of Labor Relations that highlighted serious flaws in the City’s contract with the MA+ vendor. Unlike standard MA contracts, the City’s agreement requires minimal accountability from the vendor as well as allowing it to make future changes in the plan without consulting with NYC or the Municipal Labor Committee.

The letter was signed by James Davis and Bill Friedheim, chair of the retirees’ chapter.

Click READ MORE to see the letter and here for a PDF.

President James Davis delivered the Spring Safe Return petition to Chancellor Matos Rodríguez on Thursday, January 6. His letter and a link to the signed petition are below.

Dear Chancellor Matos Rodríguez,

In December, before the Omicron surge, we discussed the need for the University to provide clear, sensible, safe guidance for the Spring 2022 semester that is responsive to emerging information about new variants. We reiterated our view that the guidance to date unilaterally established arbitrary standards, preventing the local exercise of academic judgment and undermining shared governance. The PSC supports a smart and gradual return to work for faculty and staff because we believe CUNY students are generally well served by in-person instruction, advising, and counseling. But we asked that CUNY meet the following conditions.

  • Urge college HR officers to honor remote work requests from employees who live with someone who is immune-compromised, and urge supervisors to extend remote work agreements to staff who would primarily be working remotely (via computer or telephone) despite reporting in-person.
  • Permit academic departments to exercise independent judgment about the appropriate percentage of Spring 2022 in-person classes, rather than adhere to a one-size-fits-all minimum of 70%.
  • Count hybrid classes toward the in-person category for Spring 2022, as they were in Fall 2021, and define what qualifies a course as hybrid.
  • Preserve in-person classes with lower than expected enrollments if demand for hybrid or remote sections exceeds demand for in-person sections.
  • Refrain from offering HyFlex courses absent an agreement with the PSC about the terms and conditions under which instructors undertake HyFlex teaching.

Released: January 5, 2022

James Davis, president of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, the union that represents 30,000 faculty and professional staff at the City University of New York, released the following statement about the State of the State:

Dear Colleagues,

Happy New Year!

On Friday, Governor Hochul announced that CUNY and SUNY faculty will be required to be vaccinated. As the number of COVID cases in the city and the region surge to unprecedented levels, and increasing hospitalizations burden our health care facilities and their overstretched staff, this is a welcome announcement. Our students, who have been required since October to be fully vaccinated to take classes in person, will also need to have a booster shot as soon as they are eligible. The Governor’s announcement is available here. We applaud the tireless work of PSC health and safety committee members across the university and our chapter leaders for highlighting our needs throughout the pandemic and helping to reach elected officials. We have already submitted a request to CUNY to bargain the implementation of the vaccine mandate. We will seek to ensure that our members’ due process rights and interests are upheld through these negotiations.

December 29, 2021

Dear PSC members,

During an unprecedented COVID surge, with case counts breaking every record, many CUNY employees have been required to continue working in person. The two weeks leading up to December 28 saw a 664% increase in infections in New York City. Hospitalization rates are now 30% higher across NY state than they were two weeks ago, and in the past week alone, hospitalizations increased 75% in Brooklyn, 96% in Manhattan, and nearly 100% in the Bronx, according to CDC data. Already, needless deaths—among the unvaccinated, the immune suppressed, and those in need of critical care made impossible due to an overstressed health care system—are occurring here and around the country. The number of children hospitalized for COVID in New York City has quadrupled since the first week of December.

December 20, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

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.

Urge Albany to Fully Fund CUNY’s Requested
$313 Million State Budget Increase and Support
Legislation to Make CUNY Free Again

Saturday, December 11

Queens NY - Nearly a thousand City University of New York students, faculty and staff marched with other CUNY allies in Queens, calling on Albany to fully fund the University’s budget request and support New Deal for CUNY legislation.

NoColumbiaScabs.jpg

The Student Workers of Columbia (United Auto Workers Local 2110) have been on strike for six weeks, and now Columbia University is seeking to illegally remove and replace the SWC-UAW workers with scabs. The PSC has supported this struggle, and you can click here to make a public commitment that you will not seek nor accept any contract or adjunct employment at Columbia. Make the pledge not to scab by signing this letter being circulated by the Union for Graduate Employees at NYU.  

Pages