9.11.20 Covid bargaining update: Rights to work remotely SECURED

Published by Megan on

We are happy to announce that UAOSU and the administration have tentatively agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding regarding OSU’s resumption of in-person work. Our MOU guarantees that faculty who are able to perform their work remotely will retain the right to remain remote until the pandemic recedes and effective treatments or vaccines are available. If you are asked to work in person either this term or in a future term, but wish to remain remote, please let us know. We want to help ensure your right to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe. 

Earlier this summer hundreds of us participated in our bargaining survey where an overwhelming majority of respondents (92%) agreed that instructional faculty should have the right to elect to perform their work remotely and a similarly strong majority (87%) agreed that research and extension faculty should have the same right. We are proud to secure this right for faculty, and we see it as an important step since reaching our first agreement at the end of spring term. This achievement was only possible because we organized our union. Our union is us, and our strength is our membership.  By standing together as colleagues and members, we are able to continue advocacy on issues that matter to us. To join with us and become a member of our union, click here.

Additionally, during our September 3rd meeting via Zoom UAOSU brought four proposals on issues of importance to faculty as the university adapts to changes necessitated by Covid-19. 

The first UAOSU proposal concerned faculty enforcement of physical distancing and face covering policies in classrooms and other shared workspaces. Faculty have expressed significant worry about the manner in which they will be called upon to enforce such policies, particularly in classrooms. While instruction will be almost entirely remote for the Fall term, this is an issue that has become contentious and politicized and will become more pressing as we move toward resumption of in-person/on-site work. Our proposal states that faculty must be allowed to use their best judgment in situations where students need to be reminded to follow the new policies and that no faculty member will be disciplined for good faith efforts to maintain safety in the workspaces in which they exercise authority. Many faculty members have shared with us their extreme reluctance to involve the Office of Public Safety to resolve disputes around Covid-19 policies and our proposal states that this would not be required. 

The second UAOSU proposal would ensure that performance reviews of faculty for academic year 2020–2021 account for the pandemic, including allowing a faculty member to receive an extension of their tenure clock. Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on research and teaching for many reasons – campus closure, transitioning to remote teaching, child- and other care-giving responsibilities, difficulties with securing grant funding and so on. Some faculty members took advantage of the extension offered last Spring but may need additional time to get their dossier ready for tenure and promotion. Our proposal gives them the option to request a second extension or to pause the process that is underway and postpone a decision until next year. The proposal would also protect start-up and discretionary funds for future use.  

The last two UAOSU proposals concern on-going problems that have long plagued the university but have become increasingly urgent in the current circumstances. Our proposal on child care would expand drop-off child care on campus and the Family Network resource. While the university has promised to expand these options, we would like to see greater detail and to also maintain these crucial benefits beyond the pandemic. UAOSU is also requesting the establishment of policies that would provide additional sick leave for faculty members who may need it.  This could be accomplished either through a direct transfer of accumulated sick leave from one faculty member to another or through the creation of a sick leave bank that could be drawn on as needed. These are complicated systems to set up but other institutions have done so successfully and it is past time for OSU to do so as well.  

Scheduling for future meetings is a bit uncertain at the moment. Our next scheduled bargaining session is Thursday, September 17 from 2:30-4:00 via Zoom (register here). You are, as always, a very welcome observer when you are able to attend.  

To join with us and become a member of UAOSU, click here.

In solidarity,

Your UAOSU Bargaining Team

Categories: bargaining