Author Archives: Ellen Belcher

From the Chairs

emailed to JJC Chapter 10/12/2023

Dear Colleagues,

If you already get it – simply follow this link and sign up.  A recap of our chapter meeting yesterday and links to bargaining updates are at the end.

Our push for our contract demands is a political one, with the idea being that we demonstrate our unity by showing up. The CUNY Trustees are our focus first. There are three times you can  show up next week in Manhattan’s Week of Action to demand a good contract, beginning with  signing up by noon tomorrow if you will testify, including by reading a statement by others.  Secure the option of testifying by emailing directly to  (More details at the very end.)

Our week is Monday 10/16 – building for Trustees’ attention and Red for Ed Thursday 10/19:

Monday 12 noon-1pm – Participate in our phone zap demonstration by zoom, calling CUNY targets and voicing your need for a strong new contract. Register now to join by zoom to get  your instructions.

Monday afternoon, 4:30pm, leaving from John Jay 3:40pm.  Board of Trustees Hearing, Marian Anderson Hall, 129 Convent Avenue, City College (@. If you’re angry and have complaints, like about pay in the face of all the inflation we’ve endured, that’s a great reason to speak up.  Here is the link for signing up for Monday and other ways of showing our power.  Those travelling with me, Zabby, can meet at the foot of the escalators in Haaren Hall at 3:40 pm.  In advance of that, come to 1.109 NB during community hour to paint / mark signs to bring with us.  If you cannot come, we will accept any written testimony you would like submitted to the Trustees. Questions, please call or text 646 872-0863.

Thursday 10/19 1:45pmand all day,  We will wear Red for Ed and rally together on the steps on 10th Avenue at 1:45 to make ourselves seen and heard publicly (if it’s raining, meet in the atrium by the statue of John Jay). You may have seen that day is also when John Jay is acknowledging the fight against Domestic Violence – plan now to wear purple and red.

At our chapter meeting yesterday our conversations were nuanced and revealing on the issues of guns on campus, the absence of raises with promotion, and a lack of administrative flexibility and support for both retaining adjuncts and providing classes for new fulltime lecturers.

The latest update about bargaining is right here.  Get oriented on Zoom (next options are Mon 10/23 12:30-1:30pm and Mon 11/6 6:30-7:30pm)  and attend the next session. That is another way to show up and show you are serious about a contract.

In Solidarity,


(Wishing your copy included all the RED that I put here.)

Co-Chair John Jay Chapter, PSC

@johnjayPSC – twitter

Not sure you’re a member? Sign up

Always useful information


Gayle M. Horwitz, Senior Advisor to the Chancellor & Secretary of the Board Notified the following:

Date: Monday, October 16, 2023 (jointly with the Public Hearing)

TIME: 4:30 p.m. LOCATION: The City College of New York, Aaron Davis Hall, Marian Anderson Theatre, 129 Convent Avenue New York, NY 10027

PURPOSE: The purpose of the City University of New York Board of Trustees’ Borough Hearings is to receive testimony and statements from concerned individuals about University issues.

IN ORDER TO REGISTER TO SPEAK: Persons wishing to speak are asked to please notify the Office of the Secretary via email at prior to noon on Friday, October 13, 2023.Speakers will be limited to three (3) minutes. No substitution of speakers will be permitted. Written statements are recommended. Statements may be any length and submitted in advance to

Message from the Chapter Co-Chair 10/3/2023

Emailed to all members on October 3, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

It was good to see many John Jay members names and faces at the PSC Town Hall meeting about our negotiations with management for a strong new contract last Thursday.

We’ll bring forth the local John Jay issues at our Chapter Meeting; we moved it to the next Wednesday, 10/11, please register now. A takeaway from the Town Hall is that we can build our power best by coming together visibly –  the week of 10/16 is the Manhattan Action Week  for Borough-wide activism.  Look for the sign up email  soon.   As a midtown CUNY campus, with a good size faculty that stands for justice, John Jay needs to be visible.

The Campaign Pledge Card is your ticket to showing up when it matters.  People notice when John Jay is in the house.

The next orientation session so you can be present for future bargaining session is Thursday night at 6:30.  Register here.

Please plan to come to the CUNY Board of Trustees meeting on October 16. It’s going to be at City College. Even if you cannot travel up with us, you can testify at this hearing and join in making signs for those of us who go.  John Jay needs to have 10 members come in person, including five people who have never come or spoken at all.  The trustees need to know we’re serious about real raises and our other demands.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I hope you have figured out if the Catastrophic Major Medical is for you, because tomorrow, the 11th and the 12th are the last information sessions; there’s no telling how many years the window for enrolling will close for on 10/13.  (It is not long-term care, but it looks to me like one benefit it has is 240 weeks of 25 hours of home health care benefit.)

In Solidarity,

Zabby Hovey, Co-Chair John Jay Chapter, PSC

@johnjayPSC – twitter

Not sure you’re a member? Sign up

Open Letter to President Mason and Provost Li 1/17/2021

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

Open Letter: Omicron Surge and John Jay Campus

Dear President Mason and Provost Li,

    Many members of our PSC bargaining unit share the concern of all New Yorkers about the unprecedented surge of COVID among the vaccinated, compounded by inadequate testing opportunities throughout the City. The city’s COVID positivity rate nearly doubled in the 3 days from December 9 (3.9%) to December 12 (7.5%). On Friday, December 19, New York City’s positivity rate broke the record for a single day.

    Many universities and colleges have shut down in response to this alarming situation, yet we have had no communication from CUNY’s central leadership. If the campus is not shut down immediately, we think that guidance needs to be immediately provided to the John Jay community that endorses limiting travel to campus.

    Since you have recognized the importance of safety first and flexibility, we ask that you generally endorse working remotely for all faculty and staff whose tasks do not require an on-campus presence. It seems particularly burdensome to require 35-hour-a-week employees to come to campus, if they are able to work online, since online is where most people will seek services. The local rate of transmission is presently eight (8) times higher than what the CDC counts as “high,” 4 times higher than it was all fall.

     We ask that you allow all remaining finals to be administered online. Many faculty, in response to students’ concerns, may have already moved their finals to an online format. Others, who feel vulnerable as contingent faculty, may be afraid to do so. However, since many of our students have likely already been exposed, received positive results, or are awaiting results, this step would act to limit the risk of exposure to both students and faculty.

     We ask you to provide voluntary testing to all John Jay employees who need to come to campus as long as the current surge continues. We suggest extending the days and times that the NYC H&H mobile rapid/PCR testing van is available at the college’s entrance. Please urge CUNY to renegotiate with Applied DNA to make the testing facilities at John Jay and other CUNY locations available to all documented members of our CUNY community, not just the unvaccinated or those chosen for surveillance testing.

      In the interests of reducing exposure to the Omicron variant and increasing the safety of the whole John Jay Community, we ask you to make an immediate announcement that:

  • Reminds all community members how to self-report a positive COVID test and/or known exposure.
  • Suggests that all faculty with final exams for in-person classes on Monday or Tuesday move these activities to an online format where feasible.
  • Encourages students to stay off campus and use the remote provisions of support services and the library whenever possible.
  • Endorses pivoting services back to remote options, with minimal in-person services, if any, until the start of the Spring semester.
  • Encourages all community members to test before coming to campus.
  • Explains what steps you will take to broaden access to free on-campus testing.

     Since stress can undermine individual immune systems, we hope that you will communicate assurances to the John Jay community over the weekend.


Zabby (Elizabeth) Hovey and John Pittman, Co-Chairs

John Jay Chapter, Professional Staff Congress

Walk-throughs Report to John Jay Campus Employees

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We write to report that a small group of PSC Health and Safety Watchdogs completed two walkthroughs of our campus spaces.

  • Pre-occupation walkthrough 1 July 21, we joined management representatives to visit the BMW level 6; Haaren Hall Levels C, B, 1 (Library), 2, 3.
  • Pre-occupation walkthrough 2- On July 27, we joined management representatives to visit LL Westport both floors, and the New Building levels L, and 1.
  • Future Pre-occupation walkthrough 3– This Is scheduled for 8/17/2021 during which we will visit classrooms which will be in operation FA21 and academic departments, including all locations where specific issues have been raised by members of the bargaining unit.
The group of people on these walkthroughs included Janet Winter, Rulisa Galloway-Perry and Ellen Belcher, who have been attending PSC Health and Safety Watchdogs meetings weekly, as well as ventilation and workplace health and safety training from NYCOSH, OSHA, NYSUT. We were joined by JJC co-chairs John Pittman and Zabby Hovey and other JJC PSC volunteers. All of us have received walkthrough training with PSC-CUNY. We encourage you to sign up for to be a PSC H & S Watchdog because it empowers our safety vigilance going forward.   From management, we were joined by Mark Flower, Oswald Fraser, Don Gray, Diego Redondo, Tony Balkissoon and Anthony Bracco. We were told that DC-37 had a separate walkthrough previous to ours.
We are pleased to report that the spaces we visited looked, smelled, sounded and felt clean and well-ventilated. We thank our brothers and sisters in DC-37, Teamsters and other bargaining units who have obviously been working very hard to get the campus ready for our return to our workplaces. We do not have the equipment nor expertise to measure ventilation levels, but we were told that CUNY, ASHRAE and CDC guidance was being followed in all areas. We did measure temperature and can report that all areas we visited were in the 68 – 74 degree range.
While we did not notice any egregious concerns regarding our physical workplaces, we do continue to have great concern about policy, procedures, and communications necessary to keep all of us safe.  For example, during our walkthroughs we had many discussions about our concerns: potential crowding, especially in shared offices, reception areas and computer labs where PSC members’ workstations are located, especially after students return.
Administrators emphasized to us that the safety of departments and units, including adequate distance, are the responsibility of each supervisor; many or most of these individuals are also in the PSC bargaining unit.  We hope that they are getting the support and information that they need to keep us all safe.
We know that many health and safety concerns and questions remain about individual workplaces. We encourage you to register for and attend the Return to Campus Update Forum for Employees on Wednesday, August 4, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.  (Described here). We also encourage you all to continue to report Health and Safety concerns to your supervisors and management.  There is also an anonymous complaint option for you to voice your concerns. 
Our reporting form will remain open to receive your concerns, but it does not substitute for a discussion of your concerns with your supervisor and/or facilities staff.  Please keep in touch with us, by using this form or email us directly (  Please also visit the PSC health and safety web resources on our website and on the PSC website.
We hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.
Ellen Belcher, JJC PSC Chapter Health and Safety Committee Chair, JJC PSC Delegate
Rulisa Galloway-Perry, JJC Campus HEO Advisor, JJC PSC Delegate
Janet Winter, Cross Campus Officer, PSC Executive Council, JJC PSC HEO Delegate
John Pittman & Zabby Hovey, JJC PSC Chapter Co-Chairs, JJC PSC Delegates