A petition demanding that CUNY negotiate with the PSC over the impact of its rigid new timesheet has been signed by more than 2,500 people – a majority of all CUNY professional staff.
At Clarion press time, the petition had been signed by a total of 2,515 employees in the Higher Education Officer (HEO) and College Laboratory Technician (CLT) series, as well as Research Associates and Assistants who are also affected by the new timesheet. At CUNY campuses where the new timesheet is already being used, two-thirds of HEOs and CLTs added their names.
“The response to the petition has been dramatic,” said Iris DeLutro, PSC vice president for professional staff. “People are saying that CUNY needs to negotiate. We work long hours, and often irregular hours, to make this University run. CUNY needs to recognize and compensate us for all of the time we work.”
The strong response from union members has brought forth a response from management. “CUNY has already come to the table,” PSC President Barbara Bowen told the March 13 Delegate Assembly. “We are in ‘discussions’ and making progress.” And management has been willing to consider some changes.
HEOs and CLTs required to use the new timesheets have complained that they are built around assumptions that don’t reflect the actual work of CUNY professional staff – as if everyone worked only from 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday. Professional staff often work at night or on weekends, and they say the new timesheet’s one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t allow them to accurately record the time they work. Many also report that supervisors don’t permit recording time worked beyond 35 hours, even when the job requires it.
“Because of our professionalism and commitment, we routinely stay late to staff registration, work through our lunch hours because students need us, respond to late-night calls to repair computer systems, spend nights and weekends writing grants, and more,” the petition says. “We understand our responsibilities as professionals, including the responsibility to record time worked....[But] the rigid timesheet format reveals a lack of understanding of the work we do and the complexity of a university workplace.”
Management’s unilateral imposition of a new system “insults our professionalism,” the statement says.
Discontent with the new timesheet even extends beyond those who must use it to record their own hours. “Even from a supervisor’s point of view, these timesheets are a nightmare,” said a CCNY employee in an online comment. “It’s much easier to review a subtractive timesheet than this mess.”
HEO and CLT chapter activists who circulated the petition said it got a strong response. “This has been the biggest campaign I’ve been involved in since I became a grievance counselor in 2008,” said Zoraida Hernandez, a Higher Education Associate who works at Brooklyn College in its Center for Academic Advisement and Student Success. “We had a very good turnout at the first campus HEO meeting where it was discussed. People there not only signed, they volunteered to circulate the petition in their departments.”
Luis-Alfredo Cartagena, a Senior CLT in the Modern Languages Department at BMCC, said there was also a good response among his college’s CLTs. “Besides getting a lot of signatures on the petition,” he said, “it also became a way for people to get to know each other, to find out more about the issues that the union has fought for in the past and what we are working to maintain.”
HEOs, CLTs and employees in Research titles say that CUNY’s approach to the timesheet issue has shown a lack of respect for the professionalism and dedication they bring to their work every day. Through the petition, they’ve said collectively that this is not acceptable – and that there must be a different approach to how their time is recorded.