RELATED COVERAGE: If You Have a Conflict About Your Time Sheet...
Higher Education Officers and College Lab Technicians packed the PSC Union Hall on September 17 to air their concerns about a rigid new time-sheet system that CUNY is imposing on professional staff.
In the joint meeting of the PSC’s HEO and CLT chapters, 150 members from at least 14 campuses voiced anger about feeling that they are no longer being treated as professionals. But sharing their stories sparked some hope for change.
“People felt unified and galvanized like I had never seen before,” Brooklyn College Chief CLT Ed Coppola told Clarion. “I felt like we had a lot more voice, a lot more power, because we got together for those couple of hours in that room.”
The new time-sheet system was recently introduced at several CUNY colleges; it is now in use at nine campuses and is scheduled to be implemented at four more this semester. Union members say they do not have a problem accounting for their time, but decried the rigid design of the time sheets and their application. Many described working long hours or irregular schedules in order to meet the needs of students and their departments. They wondered how they could fit their varying activities into the time sheet’s rigid format.
In response to the concerns the new policy has provoked, CUNY central administration has reaffirmed that all employees should record the hours they actually work. The expectation that employees report all hours worked is at odds with what many CLT- and HEO-series employees have been told locally, and members say the time sheets cause other problems as well.
For example, one HEO said she was unsure how she would record “working lunches” with her supervisors. A CLT who is a microbiologist described going into work on weekends and holidays to check on the condition of projects for which she is responsible. Many members said the time sheets are not set up for such frequent variation of working hours. Iona Samuels, a senior CLT in BMCC’s business administration department, told the meeting she sometimes stays at work until 11 pm because when she’s installing computer software, she doesn’t leave until the job is done.
“If they are going for a one-size-fits-all model, that may not be the right model for the flexible work force they expect,” Berkis Cruz-Eusebio, an assistant to HEO at Hostos, told Clarion.
Cruz-Eusebio’s versatility and willingness to go the extra mile proved invaluable last August when a colleague brought a suicidal student to Cruz-Eusebio’s office at the end of the work day. Cruz-Eusebio, a career & employment specialist in Hostos’s ASAP program, helped calm the student while signaling a colleague to contact police, who eventually came and took her to a psychiatric hospital. Two hours later, Cruz-Eusebio went home.
“How would that have worked if I told my co-worker that I was required to leave by 5:30 pm?” Cruz asked.
PSC First Vice President Steve London told the meeting that the union had filed a Public Employment Relations Board charge over CUNY’s failure to negotiate with the union over the impact of the new time-sheet system. The PSC is planning a petition campaign on the issue; if you’d like to get involved, contact Deirdre Brill at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (212) 354-1252. In the meantime, the PSC urges members who encounter conflicts over time-sheet issues to call the union.