COVID-19 and Rochester Labor
MCC FA, NYSUT Local 2842
Interview with Bethany Gizzi (President Monroe Community College Faculty Association, NYSUT Local 2842), 3 September 2020
State closure policies also affected postsecondary education workers: pursuant to orders from Governor Cuomo and SUNY, Monroe Community College was ordered on Friday March 20 to shut down the following week and remained closed until the Fall semester, when certain hands-on technical programs (e.g., Dental Hygiene, Automotive Technology) were allowed to offer face-to-face instruction to small groups of students. However, other instruction and all Student Support Services remained virtual.
Since few of the two hundred forty-five full-time faculty had been trained for distance learning, the shutdown demanded a crash course on how to conduct classes via computer. The MCC Foundation donated laptops and the Department of Instructional Technology Faculty provided training in their use. Teachers found they had to work harder and do more prep time and class time. Also they had to relax their standards for student work.
The Faculty Association helped develop responses to the shutdown as well as responding to SUNY's request for a plan to reopen the College. The union also negotiated a voluntary severance plan that saved twenty faculty positions threatened with layoff. Adjunct faculty, already reduced by declining enrollment, were only minimally impacted by COVID-19.