MEMBER OPPORTUNITIES, NEWSLETTER, PSU-AAUP

Delay the Return - Four Union Petition

September 09, 2021 / PSU-AAUP

We have gathered over 650 signatures on our joint petition with SEIU, PSUFA, and GEU to delay returning to work. We’ve also gotten some questions about the petition and wanted to clarify. AAUP’s stance is that delaying a return to in person until infection rates go down is supporting the most vulnerable in our union and in our larger community -- APs, NTTFs, Adjuncts, Classified, caregivers, immunocompromised, etc. If you want to return to in person work and feel comfortable doing so, that’s great! However, we have heard from many members both through emails and the survey about reopening that AAUP conducted last spring that people are scared for themselves and those they love. We want employees to have the utmost flexibility in determining what their safest option is for continuing to work-a REAL CHOICE on how to do your work, which many people do not have right now.

There are still many unanswered questions about returning to campus, which is just 7 days away. PSU needs to do whatever it can to reduce the spread of Covid and allowing workers to choose what feels safe to them, will help. If you haven’t done so already, please sign the petition and share with others.

Our full petition text below:

Dear President Percy, the Board of Trustees, and Provost Jeffords,​

With record high numbers of Covid cases in our state and across the nation and breakthrough cases in Oregon at 14% (of known cases), PSU needs to take urgent action to ensure the health and safety of not only our PSU faculty, staff, and students, but also the city and state-wide community (see Oregon, once a virus success story, struggles with surge (bit.ly/2XYjUTR)). The current alarming upward trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is reaching the highest numbers since the beginning of this nightmare, proves that the risk is higher than ever, and it’s safe to predict that infection rates will only increase should more and more people begin to congregate in person. The current rates have been increasing dramatically during the summer months while schools and universities have been either remote or out of session, and there is little reason to believe that the pandemic will be under control by the time faculty, staff, and students will be expected to return. Those that have already returned or been working in-person have experienced breakouts. Furthermore, many offices on campus do not allow for social distancing from those with whom we might meet or share space. While it hasn’t been easy, our University has delivered high quality remote instruction and support to our students for the last 17 months, and for the health and safety of our community, we must continue remote learning and support until it is safe to return to campus. We are still in a global pandemic and it’s on the rise.  

A large number of staff are currently scheduled to return to campus on September 7 and the University has not shared a detailed plan for contact tracing, nor is there a plan for regular testing for those that aren’t vaccinated. Furthermore, the university isn’t currently requiring people to report their positive Covid tests; rather the policy simply states it’s “strongly recommended." (bit.ly/3sKN2t4). The administration needs to prioritize the health and safety of its employees, students, and beloved city.

We believe that remaining remote for the foreseeable future would drastically reduce the chance of a major outbreak on campus (which has already happened at other institutions). Returning to in-person would have ripple effects throughout the community, and would drastically contribute to the life-threatening pandemic that rages across the globe. Does Oregon need to be the site of the next variant? Furthermore, remaining remote would allow for all those impacted to prepare in advance, rather than finding ourselves in a situation where we would have to pivot back to remote work without notice. The safety and consistency that remote options provide would be the most socially responsible, compassionate, and prudent way to proceed until the pandemic has ended. We can not return to campus when we know it will put every person and those they love in a life or death situation.

We understand that some staff members will need to continue to be on campus as has been the case since March 2020. We are grateful to all those that have been on campus the last 17 months and by most of us staying remote this has let those workers have safer in person conditions. WIth increasing case numbers and higher transmission rates, on campus workers must be provided with PPE in the form of N95 masks and assistance with properly fitting those masks. These folks also need hazard pay. Remote meeting, advising and teaching will reduce the risk of exposure on campus and create a safer environment for those that are on campus.

We request urgent action now to protect our students, staff, and faculty!

Portland State University American Association of University Professors (PSU-AAUP)

Graduate Employees Union of Portland State University (GEU of PSU, AFT/AAUP)

Portland State University Faculty Association (PSUFA)

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 89

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