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December 6th SPS Labor-Management Notes


Management: John Mogulescu, Dean; George Otte, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs; Washington Hernandez, Interim Associate Dean of Administration and Finance; Tracy Meade, Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Innovation; Lia Kudless, Chief of Staff; Pat Stein, Legal Counsel and Labor Designee for SPS.

PSC: Susan Fountain, Adjunct Professor, PSC Delegate; Jennifer Lee, Associate Registrar, PSC Welfare Fund representative; Jean Grassman, Associate Professor, CUNY School of Public Health, and head of PSC Environmental Health and Safety Committee.


  1. Water issues
  2. Appointment letters
  3. Tableau display of course evaluations
  4. Next steps on governance plan
  5. Update on active shooter training
  6. Update on PSC orientations
  • Water issues

Management stated that “We would never think of jeopardizing anyone’s health…We go by the University’s recommendations,” and said that Howard Apsan (University Director of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management) has stated that further testing is not necessary. Management also noted that the piping in the building has been changed in recent months, so that water in various locations on floors occupied by SPS is coming from a single main line.

The PSC responded that this change in the piping is of concern, since the latest water test results (from sampling done on Aug. 15, 2018) show the presence of lead in more rooms, and at higher levels, than in any previous testing. PSC stated that further testing is needed now that the filtration systems in office suites have been worked on, and that testing of the water fountains should also take place.

Management stated that they are not opposed to further testing if the University allows it. They would like to check with Howard Apsan, and said they would respond to the PSC in writing after doing so. (As of 1/11/19, the PSC had received no written response.)

The PSC presented a series of four emails from Rachel Levine, former Associate Dean of Administration and Finance, dated January and February 2018. In each email, a member of the PSC’s Environmental Health and Safety Committee asked Rachel Levine for specific assurance that water from the fountains in the hallways would be tested before being put into service. She responded affirmatively to each email. The PSC argued that assurance had been given, in these emails and in Labor-Management meetings held on 12/15/17 and 4/30/18, that the fountains would be tested before being put into service. Management countered that the emails from Rachel Levine only showed that she agreed to water testing, and not specifically to testing of the water fountains before they were put into service.

The PSC disagreed with this interpretation, and insisted that on the necessity of:

  • Immediate signage on drinking fountains
  • Testing of the drinking fountains
  • Retesting of water in office suites after “refresh” of filtration systems
  • Continued provision of bottled water in office suites
  • Prompt release of any further water testing results to PSC

Members of the management team then turned to Jean Grassman, demanding to know if she had tested all drinking water sources at the School of Public Health. Dr. Grassman pointed out that the purpose of this meeting was to discuss the water at SPS, not the School of Public Health. The PSC distributed a handout with quotes from the EPA’s website saying that there is no safe level of lead in drinking water, and arguing that everyone who uses the building at 119 West 31st St. has the right to know what is in the water, and to make an informed decision about their own health. PSC requested that at a minimum, signs be posted at the water fountains in the hallways, informing students and other users that the safety of the water has not been determined. Management refused to post these signs. Given the stalemate over this issue, the meeting moved on to other agenda items.

  • Appointment letters

The PSC noted that while in the past, adjunct letters of appointment included mention of the course name and number that the adjunct was appointed for, this is no longer the case. The PSC asked for information about the reason for the change. Management replied that that were unaware of the change, and that the question should be directed to OFSR. Pat Stein suggested that the change could have something to do with unemployment benefit claims.

  • Tableau display of course evaluations

The PSC has received questions about how long course evaluation data has been publicly available on the SPS website. Management replied “Years”, and said that some CUNY schools publish these results in the student newspaper. It is seen as a response to student requests for this information, and as a measure of student satisfaction. PSC asked if faculty can opt out of having their data made public – it has been reported to the PSC that this is an option at at least one other CUNY college. Management stated that this is not an option at SPS, and doubted that it is an option elsewhere.

  • Next steps on governance plan

PSC asked for a timeline for the draft proposed governance plan. Management said that the process has been a compromise, that they have listened to the concerns of the PSC and the University Faculty Senate, but “At some point, this is our school’s document.” PSC asked if any revisions to the governance plan had been made based on the PSC’s input at the 11/12/18 town hall meeting. Management responded, “No.” PSC asked again about the timeline for the plan. Management replied that it would be voted on by the SPS Governing Council on 12/6/18. It will then go to the Board of Trustees for a vote, likely in February 2019.

  • Update on active shooter training

PSC asked for data on attendance. Management provided data showing that six sessions had been held with a total of 53 attendees. PSC expressed thanks to management for holding these trainings, and said that the feedback had been overwhelmingly positive. Attendees appreciated the flexibility of scheduling, the quality of information provided, the opportunity for hands-on practice, and the chance to ask questions. There was great appreciation for the willingness of Washington Hernandez and Brian Smith to follow up with staff in office suites on specific issues they could potentially face.  PSC asked if additional training could be held in Spring 2019 for new faculty and staff. Management agreed to consider this.

  • Update on PSC orientations

The PSC expressed appreciation to the OFSR staff, especially Ema Izquierdo and Alexis Rodriguez, for their cooperation in helping with the smooth roll-out of the PSC orientations for new hires. The PSC also expressed appreciation to Andrew Reynolds for assistance with room reservations for orientations, sometimes on short notice.

PSC pointed out that since most adjuncts are reappointed on a semester or yearly basis, they should be eligible for a paid orientation after not being on payroll in January or over the summer. Pat Stein countered that adjuncts should only be eligible for an orientation in the first semester that they are hired. This issue was left unresolved.

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