As the spring semester got underway, activists in the PSC’s Higher Education Officer (HEO) and College Lab Technician (CLT) chapters expanded a petition campaign protesting CUNY’s new electronic timesheet system. The system timesheet has sparked an outpouring of criticism from professional staff over both the way it was imposed and the timesheet itself;
PSC members say it is too rigid and fails to reflect the variation in, or the full extent of the work, of HEOs and CLTs. “Universally, people feel that it’s deprofessionalizing,” said Anselma Rodriguez, a higher education associate who is coordinator of graduate study at Brooklyn College (BC).
The two cross-campus chapters have gathered well over 1,000 signatures so far, and are fast gaining more. Rodriguez has worked with colleagues to gather 30 to 40 signatures at Brooklyn College; she says the new timesheet is deeply unpopular.
Members say the timesheet is structured so that an employee must report working from 9 to 5 each day for a total of no more than 35 hours per week, unless they receive advance approval from a supervisor to work longer hours (which for HEO-series employees can make them eligible for compensatory time or overtime). The timesheet offers no opportunity to record when an employee works late on a given day, on the weekends, during a normal lunch hour or off-location – as job responsibilities of professional staff often require.
“Management demands that HEOs and CLTs be very flexible, and they are frequently given tasks that require working more than 35 hours in a week or outside of a 9-to-5 schedule,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen. “Yet the timesheet acts as though everyone works very rigidly between 9:00 and 5:00, which ignores the reality of what HEOs and CLTs actually do.”
The petition demands that CUNY negotiate with the PSC on the impact of the timesheet changes, and says that any changes in how working time is recorded must “reflect the complexity and variability of our jobs and schedules,” among other criteria.
“I’m not against change, but I have a problem with change when the people who are affected by it don’t have a say,” said Carrie Roberts, an assistant to HEO in BC’s School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts who is also gathering signatures.
Amy Geu, a CLT in Hunter’s geography department, said that in circulating the petition she has enjoyed “talking to other CLTs and hearing their stories about their workdays.” Getting signatures has not been difficult, she added: “It was pretty straightforward. No one had any objections. The response was, ‘Anything to help the campaign.’”
After the current push for signatures, organizers say, the next step will be delivering the petition to the CUNY administration – and pressing for negotiations.
To find out more about the timesheet petition, and how you can sign, contact Dierdre Brill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-354-1252.