Bargaining Update: Faculty have the right to Covid safe working conditions
Your bargaining team has met with the administration twice in August to continue negotiating the return to onsite work. While progress has been made, the administration has made worrying assertions about faculty rights in their classrooms and workspaces. If you will need remote or flexible work arrangements for the fall, please contact your supervisor to start that request process. If you need help with this, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met 9–10 on Tuesday, August 3 and 10-11 on August 11 on Zoom. Thank you to the faculty members who observed the sessions.
Fall term is coming quickly — recognizing that, we emailed a counterproposal on Remote and Flexible Work before the August 3 session. While we typically aim to pass proposals only in live sessions, given the tight timeline, we wanted to move this forward.
On August 3, the administration team did pass back two proposals:
- Remote and Flexible Work: While there are still details to work out regarding the timeline and process of appeals, we strongly encourage you to consider whether you will need to make arrangements for remote or flexible work for Fall term or beyond. If so, please contact your supervisor as soon as possible to get that process started.
- Vaccination Rate: Given that the employee vaccination program is not a mandate, but rather a compliance/self-reporting program, we are bargaining for greater transparency about vaccination rates for students and for employees. The administration’s counterproposal asserts that reporting will focus on compliance with the program rather than actual vaccination rates and will, at most, be reported at the college level for privacy reasons. We have argued that vaccination rates should be reported at the finest level possible while still maintaining anonymity, so that we can make informed decisions about our own safety.
While these exchanges represent important progress in protecting faculty, we were deeply disturbed that the administration declined to counter our proposal about COVID policies in classrooms and other workspaces. They stated that faculty do not have the right to make policies within their classrooms that are more restrictive than current university-wide policy — for example, by requiring students in a crowded lab course to wear masks. While the current policy as of August 5 requires face coverings in all indoor settings, this is a policy that can be abruptly changed. COVID caseloads are increasing and even vaccinated individuals can transmit the virus to others, including unvaccinated children. We are justifiably concerned about our own safety and that of our family members.
The administration’s stance against faculty’s right to strengthen classroom safety protocols has also created a more general concern: that the administration does not recognize faculty authority to make professional decisions within the classrooms and other workspaces where we are in charge. At our bargaining session on August 11th, we reasserted our view that our members must have the right to impose safety measures in their classrooms that are more robust than the policies OSU’s administration have haphazardly cobbled together and that frequently change. We also brought counters on Remote and Flexible Work and Vaccination Rates, which are getting closer to resolution.
We have a bargaining session on Monday, August 16 from 11:30 – 1:00 to negotiate salary increases (register to observe at uaosu.org/august16) . We will be presenting a counter to the administration’s last proposal. The date for the next bargaining session on campus reopening has not been set so watch for an announcement; it will probably be early next week. The administration has all of our proposals on reopening so we expect to receive counters at the next session. Even if you can only drop by for half an hour, your attendance matters: show the administration that faculty are watching this process.
We appreciate your support.
Your bargaining team