This summer, PSC leaders and members are organizing to ensure a safe, gradual reopening of campus facilities. It is CUNY’s job to provide a safe workplace and it is the union’s job to hold CUNY accountable. Over the past several months, we have developed our capacity to do just that, negotiating pre-occupancy walkthroughs and a remote work agreement, training our colleagues, and formulating safety standards in consultation with experts among our members. This is a key moment for all of us to engage with the union’s safe reopening campaign at your college. Only when we feel secure about our working conditions can we get back to meeting the needs of our amazing students in person.
PSC officers are in dialogue with CUNY administrators about the terms of a safe return to work and the conditions under which remote work may continue. Our Health & Safety Committee developed a clear set of standards to support our members in obtaining important information about their particular workplace. These “watchdogs” have trained over 100 PSC members to accompany campus facilities staff and administrators on pre-occupancy walkthroughs of buildings scheduled for reopening. Please sign up here to be trained. Nothing is more immediately beneficial and tangible than serving as a health and safety “watchdog”! In the absence of a clear timetable from CUNY, the PSC has established a timetable to ensure a safe return by the week of August 2, CUNY’s target for gradual reopening:
- On June 15, college reopening plans were due to CUNY central. We encourage chapter leaders and reopening committee representatives to request a copy of their college’s reopening plan immediately. Your administration may say that the reopening plan is not available until CUNY’s approval is final, but the sooner the plans are made available, the more informed your walkthroughs will be.
- By July 1, chapter leaders and members trained to conduct pre-occupancy walkthroughs should schedule them with your local administration.
- By July 15, chapter leaders and members aim to complete at least one pre-occupancy walkthrough of any facility slated to reopen the week of August 2. The walkthrough checklist developed by the PSC Health & Safety Committee supports this process. The PSC will aggregate information gathered during walkthroughs and support the local chapters in obtaining additional data and responses to outstanding questions.
- On July 19, at any campus where pre-occupancy walkthroughs have not begun, the PSC will work with chapters to apply collective pressure on the local administration. Members are encouraged to join a “flying squad” of activists who will be available for demonstrations on this date, and others thereafter as needed. If a college has failed to permit pre-occupancy walkthroughs, their administration must begin by this date or the union will take actions to bring them into compliance.
- The week of August 2, CUNY will expect many professional staff and library faculty – beyond those who have already returned to in-person work – to report to work on campus for at least one day per week, possibly more. If you have a medical condition that prevents in-person work, you may seek a medical accommodation through the Human Resources office. Your supervisor should also continue to honor your Remote Work Agreement through the date in the agreement.
We encourage members who are concerned about the safety of their workplace to contact the PSC Health and Safety Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to all our members who have involved themselves in this critical area of the union’s efforts, and special thanks to the Health and Safety “watchdogs.” Together, we can ensure that every return to work is a safe return, and that every student, whether learning remotely or in-person, is also safe and well-supported in pursuing their CUNY education.
James Davis, President
Andrea Vásquez, First Vice President
Felicia Wharton, Treasurer
Penny Lewis, Secretary
p.s. On August 1, the PSC is planning a union-wide picnic/potluck (time and location tbd). Depending on the state of readiness on the campuses, this event may serve as an organizing opportunity in addition to an occasion to enjoy each other’s company!