On March 7, 2022, management in Advising & Career Services (ACS) unilaterally instituted a new policy outlining two options: “Standard On-Campus and In-Person Appointment Expectation” and “Alternative Employee Schedule Options.'' The new policy required APs, among other things, to schedule work time into the evenings and weekends in exchange for the “privilege” of working from home a certain number of days or hours per week.
This was a "pick your poison" proposition: continue previously approved work-from-home arrangements with an 18-hour student scheduling window or come back to the office 5 days a week.
This new expectation that ACS APs would have to commit to work a regular, specific number of their remote work hours during non-standard times was a violation of several provisions of the AAUP collective bargaining agreement.
On March 18, 2022, eighteen ACS APs supported a grievance demanding these policies be rescinded. AAUP representatives also simultaneously filed a Demand to Bargain over these policies, noting that they constituted a material change in working conditions. Past President Mark Leymon and AAUP staff Rich Peppers represented the group during the hearing, with multiple APs serving as class representatives.
In a victory for our ACS Academic Professionals, these policies have now been rescinded.
While this is great news, the struggle to have management respond in a fair and equitable manner to AP requests for remote work arrangements continues.
Management needs to consider requests for remote-work arrangements in a fair and equitable manner, rather than using a broad-brush approach. And telling people to go to HR for FMLA/OFLA or ADA accommodations when considering these requests is often more of a run-around than a solution.
We have an AP retention crisis at PSU. Turnover in these positions is astoundingly high. Looking at the October 2019 data, PSU had retained only 33% of APs who had been hired just 2 years earlier. Between October 2019 - March 2022, only 30% were retained. Refusals to provide equitable remote work arrangements are one example of why turnover is so high. Many APs experience devaluation of their work and poor working conditions on a daily basis.
High turnover is bad for students and imposes unnecessary, unacceptable levels of stress for APs.
PSU administration must do better.