NEWSLETTER, PSU-AAUP, CONTRACT BARGAINING UPDATE

The Health & Safety of PSU Workers Should be Put First

September 02, 2020 / PSU-AAUP

Thank you to the over 80 members who attended bargaining on Tuesday September 1 as we discussed a critical issue: the health and safety of our members! We hope that your “presence” at our bargaining session will have some impact on Admin’s response to our demand to bargain the conditions of returning to campus. Unfortunately after 4 hours of bargaining the issue at the “big table” we did not come to a resolution. 

After attempts to find a compromise, admin did not adjust their position and did assert management rights to assign duties. Our “compromise” proposal to them was that Admin would have to detail the reasons behind a decision to return someone to work on campus, and there would be some form of an appeal process. We did not find consensus about this proposal and thus we remain concerned that decisions about returning to campus, especially for Academic Professionals, will be left to supervisors, and those decisions may not always be made with the member’s interests first. PSU has admittedly taken a more measured response than many universities, but PSU-AAUP thinks it is not enough. In a time of a global pandemic with more than 185,000 deaths, PSU-AAUP will not let Admin place our members into positions where they must choose their health or the health of their family over their jobs. We think there is no justification for a member being forced into this choice. We will resume/continue this discussion on September 14th. Stay tuned.         

If you didn’t see the last email on this here is some background:

We submitted a demand to bargain in May related to fall term and reopening (whether full or partial) with one simple plea, “no member should be forced to be on campus if a member feels it is unsafe to return to campus due to the pandemic.” PSU already demonstrated in spring term that, while not ideal, we can function with a completely remote staff. After more than 3 months without formally responding to our demand to bargain, Admin finally did by saying that a member should simply consult with their supervisor. 

Administration’s response gives individual supervisors the power to order someone back to work on campus who feels their own or loved-one’s health and safety are in peril. Administration promises to follow state and federal guidelines, but PSU-AAUP believes that decisions about where you work during this deadly pandemic should be the sole choice of those who are taking the risk. PSU-AAUP also believes that leaving these decisions to individual supervisors has a high likelihood of resulting in an unequal and arbitrarily prescribed policy, where workers in some units may have access to safer working conditions than workers in other units.

PSU-AAUP is disappointed that our simple, fair, and prudent demand was replaced by an apparent need to assert management prerogatives over protecting members. Administration’s slow response to our May demand to bargain means that we still don’t have a clear understanding of our members’ ability to protect their own or loved-one’s health and safety, with only about two weeks left before instructional faculty are back on contract. 

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