Bargaining Update: Read our proposal on remote and flexible work requests
The UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met 12–1 on Thursday, June 24 on Zoom, and we want to thank the faculty members who joined us to observe this session. Your attendance shows the administration that you care about a safe and respectful return to onsite work.
UAOSU presented our proposal on remote and flexible work requests. This proposal builds on our previous negotiations related to COVID, identifying that faculty should have a clear process to request these adjustments to their work, and a clear process in the case of a dispute.
As we move forward in these negotiations, a lot depends on the approach taken by university administration. We believe the administration should be proactive, sharing an appropriate level of data about the rate of vaccination and exemptions, ensuring that policies around distancing, density, and face coverings keep students and employees safe.
In their questions about our proposal, the administration team indicated that they saw the fact that class schedules have already been published as a barrier to switching from in-person to remote teaching if requested by faculty. The implication was that this fact in itself might make such a request unreasonable.
The reasonableness of a given request should not be based on its administrative impact, but rather on the reasoning behind the faculty member’s request (e.g., class density, surging cases, poorly-ventilated classrooms, the immune status of the faculty member or a member of their household). We hope to have productive discussions about this subject in future sessions.
The administration indicated several pieces of information about their approach:
- In discussing if and how faculty may require masks in classrooms, they don’t recommend it. This implies they will not support faculty in cases of students not complying with said policies. Given the communication from Dan Larson on Friday, which indicates a lifting of all masking requirements effective June 30, it is clear that the administration will be leaving faculty on their own.
- The employee vaccination program is far from a mandate. The administration has decided that it will not require vaccination cards for employees and that their approach will be one of compliance; each employee will self-report vaccination or declination. In this session, the administration indicated this will be even less rigorous than they previously stated. Employees will simply have to indicate that they have or have not been vaccinated. They conveyed that they had discussed asking which vaccine employees received and decided against this approach due to privacy concerns. While we agree that privacy must be maintained, we are concerned that this program does not do much to ensure physical safety.
- They will not share data as to vaccination rates “granularly.” This was again framed purely as a privacy concern. At this time, it seems that, at best, information on vaccination rates may be made available at the college level.
- Currently, there are no clear plans to implement mandatory testing for students or faculty who have not been vaccinated.
Our bargaining team specified that we know of several instances of faculty being asked to show vaccination cards by their supervisors in order to be exempted from wearing masks in work spaces. Based on these incidents and our conversation at the table, it is evident that the administration is rapidly diluting their vaccine mandate without adequately communicating their changing expectations to colleges and units. One of our goals with this bargaining is to establish clear expectations and communication to units to prevent these types of misunderstandings going forward.
The next campus reopening bargaining session is 9:30-11am on Tuesday, July 6 on Zoom. We also meet tomorrow, July 1, from 11:30-1pm on Zoom for a salary bargaining session. We expect to receive a first proposal from the administration team. Even if you can only drop by for half an hour, your attendance matters: show the administration that faculty are watching this process.
Your membership empowers us to negotiate better working conditions for our bargaining unit, and we appreciate your support. If you haven’t had a chance, you can join your union at uaosu.org/join.
Your bargaining team