CUNY faculty call for transparency in how
administration used CARES Act funds
BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELLDOMENECH
Unionized CUNY professors
demanded that the state stop “divesting”
from the public university
system during a rally outside of Hunter College
on Oct. 15 to prevent more staffi ng
and budget cuts.
The rally at Hunter is the most recent
in months-long calls from faculty and
teaching staff represented by the union,
the Professional Staff Congress, to stop or
reverse budget cuts to CUNY.
Teachers and union leadership say that
the university system was already “resource
starved” before the pandemic. Now, the city’s
public two-year and four-year colleges are in
even worse fi nancial strains since 3,000 adjunct
professors have been let go this year resulting
in hundreds of classes being removed
from course catalogs in order to cut costs.
The CUNY administration’s decision
to lay off thousands of staffers, in some
cases even before budget cuts took place
this year, has been called cruel and callous
by colleagues as the novel coronavirus
pandemic continues to rage on.
“To lose work, income, and health insurance
during a global pandemic creates a
personal crisis for the people who make
CUNY what it is,” said Rose Squillacote,
the Professional Staff Congress’s vice
president for part-time personnel.
On Thursday, PSC members decried
Governor Andrew Cuomo decision to
withhold 20% of state aid to municipalities,
school districts and social service,
PHOTO COURTESY OF CUNY
amounting to $2 billion, to 12 cities in order
to offset a $14.5 billion revenue shortfall
caused by the pandemic. The state recently
announced that it would begin to make
school-aid payments to municipalities.
“The threat of economic precarity is
always close with adjuncts, but CUNY’s
decision to not use the CARES Act money
to retain jobs has made that precarity all
the worse,” Squillacote added.
In the spring, CUNY received $237
million dollars from the CARES Act half
of which was meant to go towards student
aid and institutional needs as a result of
the pandemic. Multiple members of CUNY
faculty told amNewYork Metro that half
of those funds were used to help students
fi nancially but the use of the remaining
funds remains a mystery.
PSC members are calling for CUNY to
be transparent in what has happened to
those funds, something that union leadership
claims CUNY promised to them in
writing in May.
A CUNY spokesperson recommended
that the union direct their efforts towards
the federal government which failed to
provide the state with increased fi nancial
help during its hour of need.
“The federal government’s ongoing
failure to provide the resources necessary
for states, local governments, and public
universities to weather the pandemic has
left CUNY with few options,” said spokesperson
Frank Sobrino. “The PSC should
stop the infi ghting and join us in calling on
the federal government to act immediately
and deliver the funding we need.”
Cheers! City Council passes permanent plan for
New York outdoor dining
BY ROBERT POZARYCKI
Outdoor dining will become a
permanent fi xture on the streets
of New York, the City Council
declared on Oct. 15.
The city’s legislators approved a bill
(Intro. 2127-A) that continues the program
launched in June to boost business at
eateries across the fi ve boroughs amid the
COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative will be
extended through September of next year,
and then replaced by a permanent outdoor
dining plan to come.
The legislation also clears the way for
restaurants to use portable heaters in
outdoor dining spaces so restaurants may
continue to serve guests during colder
weather in the fall and winter.
Brooklyn/Queens City Councilman
Antonio Reynoso introduced the legislation
back in September; 10 other lawmakers cosponsored
the bill. He called its passage “a
huge win for the restaurant industry and its
workers, diners and the morale of residents.”
“New York City’s outdoor dining program
has been a remarkable success,”
Reynoso said. “Now, by making outdoor
dining permanent and allowing for the use
of outdoor heating lamps, my bill will allow
for continuation of the program into the
The bill, which passed 46-2, now awaits
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature.
The arrival of COVID-19 in New York
forced restaurants to close their doors to
patrons back in March due to capacity
restrictions. Though many dining spots
shuttered, others continued on into the
spring serving customers through delivery
or takeout service.
In the spring, the City Council and
de Blasio approved a program allowing
restaurants to set up curbside café seating
outside their establishments in the street.
This enabled restaurants to once again
serve patrons once New York City entered
Phase 2 of its reopening on June 22.
While outdoor dining proved quite
popular across the city in bringing diners
back to their favorite eateries, the entire
industry continues to struggle amid the
pandemic. The New York City Hospitality
Alliance previously reported that far too
many restaurateurs are well behind on
their rent, and only able to make partial
People walk by restaurant’s outdoor patios after New York City Mayor Bill de
Blasio announced 21 more locations for outdoor dining options as part of a city
initiative that combines the Open Streets and Open Restaurants programs in
place to fight the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan,
New York City, U.S., August 14, 2020.
payments to their landlords.
Andrew Rigie, the alliance’s executive
director, applauded the City Council for
passing the permanent outdoor dining bill,
but repeated calls for federal relief for New
York’s struggling dining sector.
Although outdoor dining has been
overwhelmingly successful, the city’s restaurant
industry is still on life support and
REUTERS/ANDREW KELLY/FILE PHOTO
its survival depends on safely expanding
indoor dining occupancy to 50% soon,
and the federal government immediately
passing The RESTAURANTS Act.”
The RESTAURANTS Act, introduced
earlier this month in the House of Representatives,
would steer $120 billion in
fi nancial aid to struggling eateries across
14 October 22, 2020 Schneps Media