May 8, 2020
The COVID-19 emergency demands a reimagining of CUNY, of job security, of healthcare, of economic priorities. The PSC proposes the framework below for negotiating terms and conditions of employment during the crisis. The proposals in the framework and in the list that follows are presented as additions to the Supplemental Agreement signed on April 18, 2020. The union reserves the right to modify or add proposals as the COVID-19 emergency develops.
The PSC stands by the principle, consistent with the federal stimulus legislation, that all employees should be maintained on payroll and health insurance during the pandemic. The PSC rejects any attempt to anticipate or resolve budget difficulties by diminishing the education we offer to students or by dismissing or non-reappointing employees, including contingent and part-time employees and student employees.
We call on the University to oppose cuts in State and City funding for CUNY resulting from the COVID-19 emergency. The University should stand with us in advocating for new investment in CUNY as a lifeline for the economic recovery of New York City and the communities that have borne the greatest loss of life, health and employment during the pandemic.
- On-site work for PSC-represented employees, including teaching and non-teaching faculty and staff, both full-time and part-time, will not resume until there is a consensus of scientific evidence and public health guidance that such work is safe and that travel in New York City to work locations is safe, and until agreement on the resumption of on-site work is reached with the PSC.
- There will be no non-reappointments or dismissals of PSC-represented employees during the pandemic except for just cause, pursuant to Article 21 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
- Adjuncts who receive health insurance coverage because of their employment at CUNY will remain on health insurance without interruption during the pandemic, including if they are assigned fewer than six contact teaching hours or the equivalent combination of teaching and non-teaching hours.
- NYC Health Benefits Program health insurance for all hourly employees eligible and participating in the program as of March 12, 2020, will be extended through December 31, 2020, regardless of employment status. NYC Health Benefits Program health insurance for any full-time employees separated from service for any reason other than retirement or just cause between March 12, 2020, and the end of the COVID-19 emergency will be extended for one calendar year. The University will work with the City, PSC and other unions, and providers to lower COBRA rates thereafter.
- The University will not challenge any applications for Unemployment Insurance during the pandemic.
- Class-size limits and minimum required class enrollments will not change from past practice for financial reasons during the COVID emergency. If social distancing is still required when on-site instruction resumes, the University will create additional faculty positions rather than reducing course offerings, increasing faculty workload or relying on technological solutions.
- Graduate employees who receive funding in the current academic year, including tuition waivers, stipends and graduate assistantships, will receive an additional year of funding in the 2020-2021 academic year.
- The University will clarify to all employees that the New York State provisions on job protection and pay signed into law on March 18, 2020, apply to all PSC-represented employees, regardless of full-time or part-time status. The provisions mandate two full weeks of paid, job-protected sick leave to employees who need to take leave because they or their minor dependent child are under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. The University will also clarify any other provisions applicable to PSC-represented employees.
- The University will affirm its commitment to abide by the principles of academic freedom and shared governance as stated in the Preamble to the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the CUNY Bylaws (Section 8.10), and recognized by the Charter of the UFS (Article I.3), the AAUP 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, and in four separate affirmations of Board policy since 1946, if any further action is considered during the pandemic on curriculum, research and related issues, including any further alteration of the mode of instruction and alteration of the academic calendar.
- The University will provide a detailed, college-by-college report on both its proposal for and its final allocation of the $236,955,656 in Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund money provided to CUNY colleges in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or “CARES,” half of which funding for each college is to be directed toward student aid and half toward institutional support.
Health and Safety
- PSC-represented employees will not be required to work at any CUNY worksite until the University establishes acceptable public health standards for protection against COVID-19 at the worksite, publishes its plan for maintaining those standards, ensures that any employees who need personal protective equipment are supplied with such equipment, and ensures that the configuration of the workplace will permit appropriate social distancing. Independent health and safety experts will be permitted to inspect CUNY buildings for safety if requested by the union.
- PSC and CUNY will negotiate procedures for providing accommodations to employees whose medical or other needs mean that they cannot return to on-site work safely, even after general on-site work resumes.
- Notwithstanding Article 39 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, health and safety grievances challenging directives to report to work during the COVID-19 epidemic will be arbitrable under Article 20.
- Until on-campus work resumes for PSC-represented employees, adjunct professional hours will be conducted remotely, regardless of whether they are used for training, orientation, professional development or other purposes.
- When a transition to on-campus work is made, the University will issue uniform, CUNY-wide guidelines to be followed by all colleges for accomplishing the transition.
- No employee may be designated “critical” or “essential” unless the college has provided a clearly stated reason for such designation to the employee and the PSC at least 48 hours before the designation becomes effective.
- Until on-campus work resumes, all employees designated “critical” or “essential” will be provided with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and safe travel-to-campus practices, including free parking.
- Consistent with a commitment made at the March 17 Labor/Management meeting, CUNY will publish a University-wide protocol for the actions that will be taken when a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified at any CUNY location.
- As long as any college buildings remain in use even by emergency personnel during the pandemic, the college will publish a schedule of daily cleaning, including cleaning of lab equipment being used and of surfaces such as doorknobs, hand railings and computer keyboards, and will indicate disinfectants used for decontamination.
- Any college in which a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been identified will promptly contact all employees and students who are likely to have been in locations in which they may have had contact with the person within the 14 days of identification of the infection.
- Employees called in to work at their college or other CUNY worksite on March 23, 2020, or later, whether designated “essential” or not, will receive hazard pay in addition to appropriate PPE and free parking. Any CUNY parking costs paid by such employees will be reimbursed by the University.
- Teaching adjuncts and adjunct CLTs will receive appropriate additional pay and full-time faculty will receive appropriate workload credit for distance-learning preparation conducted during the “instructional recess” and “recalibration period,” including any instructors whose teaching schedule may have included additional days because of adjustments in the calendar in Spring 2020.
- During the period of remote work, instructional staff whose work cannot be performed remotely will be given appropriate alternative assignments and will continue to be paid at their regular rate.
- Compensation because of management’s unilateral changes in the academic calendar for Spring 2020 will be negotiated, including for the uneven number of teaching days for different instructors.
- Adjunct faculty who participate or have participated in the “Online Teaching Essentials” training sessions or any other college- or University-authorized training will be paid at their full hourly teaching rate for the hours of instruction and, in addition, for half that number of additional hours to cover assignments outside of class. Adjunct professional hours may be used for one or more of these hours. Any adjuncts who were paid at lower rates since the start of the COVID-19 emergency will receive the difference retroactively.
- Full-time faculty who participate or have participated in the “Online Teaching Essentials” training or any other college- or University-authorized training in distance instruction since the start of the COVID-19 emergency will be paid a stipend of $1,500 for their participation. All contractual provisions under “Payment for Defined Projects through Stipends” will apply.
- Participation in such training sessions for distance education in no way obligates the participant to place a course online, nor will payment for participation in training be considered payment for developing an online course. The copyright to all creative materials developed during the training will be retained by the faculty member.
- Ongoing issues of non-payment of retroactive pay to hourly employees will be resolved.
- Teaching adjuncts will receive appropriate pay and full-time faculty will receive additional reassigned time if they accept assignments to prepare for and substitute-teach another faculty member’s course. The University will discuss with the PSC any additional workload or workload-averaging adjustments that might be necessary as a result.
Health Insurance and Sick Leave
- Doctoral students enrolled in the CUNY Graduate Center on a tuition-only basis will be employed for approximately three hours per week during the remainder of May and will be provided NYSHIP coverage through August 2020.
- Adjuncts and other employees paid on an hourly basis will have access to participate in the Sick Leave Bank and to receive Dedicated Sick Leave during the emergency.
- Where a requirement exists to provide verification of illness from a doctor or documentation of bereavement, that requirement will be temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 emergency.
Workload, Scheduling and Telecommuting
- There will be a presumption of flexibility in scheduled work hours for professional staff and non-classroom faculty as long as the required number of weekly hours worked is met. The terms of the Overtime Settlement will be temporarily amended to extend the period for use of compensatory time and allow additional carryover of compensatory time.
- Any employee who is required to be available by phone or email during a time that is not their scheduled workday according to their telecommuting plan will be compensated with additional on-call pay.
- The University will negotiate with the PSC a single, CUNY-wide protocol for remote workload reporting, applicable at all colleges. No employee will be required to submit any work reports or summaries beyond what is required when not telecommuting.
- No employee will be required to submit a home workplace checklist except to identify the equipment the employee requires the college to provide in order to perform their work.
- An employee whose proposed telecommuting plan has been rejected by their supervisor and who has appealed the rejection will be entitled to work according to the proposed telecommuting plan until the appeal is decided. In no event will the rejection, appeal or work according to the proposed telecommuting plan during the pendency of the appeal negatively affect an employee’s performance evaluation or subject such employee to discipline.
- Adjustment of telecommuting plans may be made by mutual agreement between the employee and supervisor. If the college needs to change an employee’s telecommuting plan, the college will provide a specific description of the operational need and will notify the employee at least 48 hours in advance. The procedures for appeal of the new telecommuting plan will be the same as for the original telecommuting plan.
- Professional evaluations that cover the period of remote work will not include negative assessments based on conditions caused by the COVID-19 emergency or a determination that the employee’s job was impossible to perform effectively through distance technology.
- CUNY will either provide any equipment, software, supplies or Internet bandwidth needed by instructional staff to perform their work remotely or reimburse the employee for the purchase cost.
- It is the college’s obligation to maintain a record of any equipment employees take home in order to perform their duties remotely.
- CUNY will identify, with the agreement of the PSC, and distribute for use a technology platform that will be required for use in all personnel-related hearings (including discussions between management and union representatives) and decision-making activities and that ensures the legally and contractually required confidentiality of such activities. The clock for personnel actions will be extended by the number of days required for the set-up of the new platform.
- Faculty will not be required to provide password access to their courses. Colleges will identify the technology necessary to gain instructor-level access to courses taught using distance technology in the event of an emergency illness and inability to teach.
- Colleges that decide to collect student evaluations for the Spring 2020 semester will report on the evaluations in aggregate, but the results will not be placed into a faculty member’s official personnel file unless the faculty member so requests.
- No audio, video or other recorded material may be used for purposes of discipline or evaluation unless all audio, video or other recorded information is made available for inspection by the PSC.
Leave and Professional Development
- Extended leaves, both paid and unpaid, will be permitted for employees—both full-time and hourly—who must be absent from work because of COVID-19. Health insurance will be maintained during such leaves.
- The Article 14.9 mandatory use of annual leave and 45-day cap on annual leave carryover and the Article 14.7 requirements on use of unscheduled holidays will be suspended until a year after the general return to on-site work. Requests to take annual leave during the COVID-19 emergency will not be unreasonably denied. No employee will be required to use their annual leave or their unscheduled holidays prior to September 2020.
- The parties will negotiate any temporary adjustments in scheduling of Fellowship Leaves that may be required by faculty because of the pandemic.
- The parties will negotiate any adjustments that may be needed in the use of travel funds.
- The parties will negotiate any temporary adjustments that may be needed in the scheduling of reassigned time for untenured faculty.
Appointments, Promotions, Reclassification
- Unused contractual funds available for HEO discretionary assignment differentials through June 30, 2020, will be made available for assignment differentials after June 30, 2020, in addition to contractual funds for this purpose that become available subsequently.
- Employees in the CLT series who wish to have a one-year extension of their tenure decision based on the circumstances of the Spring 2020 semester must apply to their college provost by February 1 of the Spring semester preceding their tenure review.
- Employees in the Lecturer series who wish to have a one-year extension of their CCE decision based on the circumstances of the Spring 2020 semester must apply to their college provost by February 1 of the Spring semester preceding their CCE review.
- Given the lack of access to paper personnel files, the parties will negotiate any necessary extensions in the appointment periods or periods required for other personnel actions for full-time faculty and professional staff.