News & Events

Good afternoon, Members and Colleagues,

I hope you are well. The PSC continues to work to ensure that you are safe on the job, and we have begun to make progress on negotiating some temporary contractual changes to protect our rights during this crisis. I will report on that shortly.

Earlier today I sent the letter below to the chancellor, seeking clear information about any of our colleagues who may still be designated "essential employees." I'll let you know as soon as we have a response.

Meanwhile, please stay as safe and connected as you can.

Barbara Bowen
President, PSC/CUNY

The PSC Delegate Assembly, representing all CUNY campuses and units, met online last night (March 19). Our primary focus, of course, was on the union’s intense and ongoing campaign to protect the safety of our members, our students and our city during the pandemic.

The PSC had also made a commitment, however, to consider an endorsement in the New York State presidential primary. The world has changed since the union leadership initially made the proposal and since many of you sent us comments through the website. But the pandemic reveals anew how consequential political decisions are. The PSC is a large and diverse union, and our members hold many different political positions. The union leadership respects our members’ right to make their own choice of how to vote.

PSC delegates listened to your views, and in a well-attended meeting, voted overwhelmingly to approve the following motion on presidential endorsement:

In the New York State Democratic primary for president of the United States, currently scheduled to be held on April 28, the PSC endorses Senator Bernie Sanders for his progressive agenda on higher education, in particular, and on broader issues that represent the interests of our members, CUNY students, and working people, such as climate change, economic inequality, union protections, health care, and immigration. While we endorse Senator Sanders in the Democratic primary, we recognize the imperative of defeating President Trump, and therefore pledge to support the Democratic nominee in the general election, and to urge the nominee to embrace the progressive agenda that Bernie Sanders promotes.

If you have been told to report to work on campus or at another CUNY location tomorrow, the PSC offers the following guidance. We are here to support you and protect your legal rights.

First, find out if there have been any changes in the status of your college or workplace by checking online. Under intense and public pressure by PSC members, several colleges have taken action late this afternoon and closed some libraries and other services. Others have closed because of confirmed cases of the virus. Make sure your information is up to date. Just tonight, for example, the Queens College president announced that the campus would be closed for the next two days because of two suspected cases. If your college has not yet done the right thing to protect public health, send a message to your college president demanding that it does.

This afternoon the PSC leadership met with Chancellor Matos Rodríguez and his senior staff to present the union’s formal demands in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While we reached agreement on some issues and made progress on others, CUNY management refused our first and most important demand: that all PSC-represented employees begin immediately to work remotely.

 Lehman, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center have essentially closed operations on site in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, in some cases maintaining only a food pantry. Every CUNY college must now do the same. If the college where you work is still refusing to protect its employees, please send a message to the college president right now. Email them and tweet at them. 

In recent years CUNY has repeatedly been faced with mass emergencies that have required contingency plans, from a terrorist attack to H1N1 flu to a hurricane. Yet CUNY management has developed no contingency plan for a pandemic. CUNY management also declined the PSC’s request to be a partner in developing a plan for the current emergency. The result has been policies in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that are contradictory and fail to protect CUNY students, staff, and the public at large.

Although the failure to develop adequate contingency plans stretches back many years and is compounded by systematic underfunding of the University, Chancellor Matos Rodríguez’s message sent at 6:55 p.m. today, March 16, continues the pattern.


I am writing to clarify the PSC’s position on whether PSC-represented employees should report to work today. The union’s position, consistent with the directive by the governor and with CUNY’s announcement at 7:06 last night, is that no one except previously designated “essential personnel” should work on campus or at other CUNY workplaces today.

The PSC has demanded that CUNY clarify the announcement that colleges may designate any CUNY facility they wish as “essential” and the implication that employees other than those officially named “essential personnel” are required to work on site today. We further demand that CUNY Central issue all future announcements that may need to be made during this emergency and that such announcements be comprehensive and unequivocal.

Dear PSC Members and Colleagues:

4,240 letters were sent this afternoon to Chancellor Matos Rodríguez and Chairperson Thompson calling on them to allow all PSC-represented employees to work remotely, starting tomorrow. The chancellor just made this announcement:

“Only CUNY essential personnel should report to work tomorrow, Monday, March 16, to their campuses and CUNY Central. Essential staff have already been designated, however, if you have any questions, please contact your supervisor.”

The announcement is a victory for everyone who lives or works in this city. CUNY management heard our message and put public health first. Now professional staff as well as all faculty will be able to protect their own health and the health of the community by staying home tomorrow. Everyone should continue to be paid as normal.

Dear Members and Colleagues:

As of this morning, the union leadership is in discussion with the CUNY Chancellor in response to our demand that all work by PSC-represented employees be conducted remotely, starting tomorrow.  The discussion has been productive so far, but we do not have resolution yet. 

So we need to let Chancellor Matos Rodríguez and Chair of the Board William Thompson know how urgent it is that CUNY do the right thing immediately: allow us to work from home. Send the message before 6:00 today.

The letter below was sent on March 14, 2020 to Chancellor Matos Rodríguez.

Dear Chancellor Matos Rodríguez:

The time has come for all work performed at CUNY to be performed remotely. Public health recommendations have changed even in the last few days, and it has now become clear that avoiding all unnecessary social contact is essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Avoiding social contact is impossible while traveling to work in a crowded city like New York and continuing to work in close proximity to others. Protective measures that may have seemed adequate earlier in the week are not adequate now.