Category Archives: Uncategorized

For a safe campus environment and an invitation to an open discussion

people marching in line holding signs

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.

Solidarity,
Zabby & John

 

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.

Sincerely,

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.

Sincerely,

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

John Jay Chapter, Professional Staff Congress

Chapter Meeting – Monday 23 August 11 am – link and agenda

Because of the uncertain circumstances in which re-opening is taking place, the John Jay PSC Chapter will have a pre-semester chapter meeting this coming Monday at 11 am to discuss next steps:

PSC John Jay is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Pre-Semester Chapter Meeting
Time: Aug 23, 2021 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 861 224 9991
Passcode: 0
One tap mobile
+19292056099,,8612249991# US (New York)
+13126266799,,8612249991# US (Chicago)
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        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
        Meeting ID: 861 224 9991
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kB5ImdoEd

 

We’ve enlisted 3 experts to join us:

Angelique Corthals, John Jay’s own, who has been advising the Reopening Committee (she advises Doctors without Borders, too).

Andrea Vasquez, PSC 1st VP

Joan Greenbaum of the PSC Health & Safety Watchdogs

This is the agenda.  We’ve sent some questions to the experts, Q&A from the meeting will be the main event.

11:00   Welcoming comments/ Chair + quick updates

11:05  Comments on the state of the pandemic: Angelique C. (7 min)

11:12   Overview of current PSCco position: Andrea V. (10 min)

11:22   PSC watchdogs basic strategy: Joan G. (8 min)

11:30   Q&A, comments from the floor (25 min)

11:55   Chapter petition, other asks, #CUNYSafeReturm Press Conference  (5 min)

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 (jjcpsc@gmail.com).  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.
 
Sincerely,
 
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