Dear John Jay Chapter, [from Zabby Hovey]
I must tell you that John Pittman resigned on Monday, June 2 as my Co-Chair (and the John Jay Chapter’s nominal Chair), but I am happy to report that this was his thoughtful treatment of a sabbatical year which will start imminently. John continues to serve on two union-wide committees, but will not be chair or co-chair for the last year or our slate’s 3-year term.
On Thursday, the PSC Elections Committee recognized me, then the nominal Vice Chair, as the acting Chapter Chair and recognized that the chapter had a new vacancy at Vice Chair. On Friday your chapter Executive Committee* voted by acclamation to elect Nivedita Majumdar as Vice Chair. The Executive Committee proceeded to direct us, as we also desired, to serve as co-chairs, sharing power and responsibility equally as we serve this chapter throughout the coming year.
For those of you who are not aware, before Nivedita served the whole union as the PSC Secretary for several years, she and John Pittman originated the co-chair approach to chapter leadership. When the PSC Elections Committee meets this week, we expect it will certify Nivedita’s election to Vice-Chair, acting as chapter Co-Chair. Of course, I am pleased to again share chair responsibilities with someone with proven dedication to our chapter and union.
Dear Colleagues — Hopefully you’ve had a chance to catch a breath during the ‘spring break’ week; may the sprint to the ‘finish line,’ through the last three weeks of classes begin! Once this semester ends, only the regular Fall ’22 semester stands between us here, now, and the end of our current PSC-CUNY contract, which ends on the last day of February, 2023.
You might think, ‘well, that’s still a ways off!’ but time has a way of catching up with folks. So we need to start thinking and planning for the bargaining for and winning a good new contract NOW. What should the PSC’s priorities be? What are the most important needs and demands for each of the many job categories covered by a PSC-CUNY contract: Faculty, both full-time and part-time; HEOs (Higher Education Officers); CLTs (College Laboratory Technicians); NTAs (Non-teaching Adjuncts), …? Our strength will come from understanding.
We invite you to come to a conversation, sponsored by our chapter’s Campus Action Team, about what the key issues are that you would like to see addressed in the next contract. Come one, come all, and join the conversation! Apr 27, 2022 01:30 PM, via Zoom. Please see your email for the Zoom information.
John Pittman & Zabby Hovey, co-chairs
Colleagues, We share with you news about two upcoming PSC actions. First we have a direct message from Susan Kang, our colleague and member of the PSC Executive Council. Below that are announcements for several other PSC and chapter events.
Does the picture of PSC marchers, as far as the eye could see, approaching the Brooklyn Bridge, convey how exhilarating Sunday was? It felt like thousands of us going over that span. Thanks to all who participated, understanding that “the union is us.“ Such a show of strength and unity may help persuade the legislature to that full funding now is essential for student success and a thriving CUNY in the future.
Meanwhile, as you know, the chancellor had ended the mask mandate for the university as a whole. Attached please find our letter to Provost Yi Li, noting that the chancellor’s abrupt change to our working conditions risks endangering some, and places the onus on those at risk. We are encouraged by Yi’s response (also attached), that faculty can set a mask standards in their classrooms. The college has ordered 10,000 masks, which are available at the college entrances. Supporting widespread mask-wearing helps ensure the safety of our workplaces and strengthens our community, fully including those who are still at risk.
Please join us this Friday at 1 o’clock, when our joint zoom forum with Baruch College will introduce three of the PSC committees that are engaged with social justice issues. Come hear Nancy Romer of the Environmental Justice Working Group, Lawrence Johnson, chair of the Anti-Racism Committee, and Jonathan Buchsbaum of the International Committee describe the vital work of their respective committees. That work contributed to the PSC resolution of solidarity with Palestine last June. This forum will include an open mic for PSC members to share their views on that resolution. Finally, PSC President James Davis will comment, and present the recent changes to our union’s resolution process. Please check your email for the link to register.
Finally, we hope to see you in early April at our next Chapter meeting, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, April 5th.
Zabby & John
Dear President Mason and Provost Li,
We view with alarm the continuing high city-wide rate of Omicron Coronavirus infections, especially considering the vulnerable people in many households of John Jay colleagues, staff and students. Until the infection rate slows significantly, no one who can work remotely should be obliged to come to campus.
We would like to share Chancellor Matos Rodriguez’ optimism that the pandemic will soon be behind us, but we believe now is the time for clear-headed planning in light of the Omicron variant’s high transmission rates. In person courses will be approximately 70% of the total, and there will be twice as many people on campus as Fall 2021. We want a return to campus that all can greet with enthusiasm, not super-spreading. The murkiness of last semester’s start – delayed application of CDC guidance and shifting vaccine deadlines – should not be repeated.
Therefore, we urge you, President Mason and Provost Li, to announce immediately that all classes for the first two weeks of the spring semester will be in online mode. Of course, all work performed by HEOs, CLTs and faculty would also be online, not on campus, so long as infection rates are high. Why not use the example of Queens College? Well in advance of the fall term, Queens College announced a uniform online start, in response to local Covid transmission rates, which were then less than 1/20th of what John Jay’s local rates were this week (115.6 per 100K v. 2760.86). City College also started with an all-online modality, despite having lower local transmission rates than John Jay did.
Our students travel long distances. We are asking them to use public transit to come to a vicinity where infection rates soar above where they were when the 70% goal was set. Announcing a science-based online start for all courses and services would also give faculty, staff and students the time to obtain and document the vaccinations, boosters and negative test results that the Governor now requires. It would also allow the College time to procure the necessary PPE to comply with the most updated CDC safety recommendations.
The clarity and improved planning enabled by an announcement such as this from you now would help ensure the safety and well-being of the entire John Jay community, and as smooth as possible a start to the academic semester.
John Pittman and Zabby Hovey, Co-Chairs
John Jay College Chapter, Professional Staff Congress