By: Sumaiya Nasir | September 27, 2021
Updated September 27, 2021, 2:45p.m.
The United University Professions Union presented their open letter, signed by 437 members of faculty and staff at the Labor Management meeting last Monday.
The letter implores the university to cooperate with faculty and staff considering the ongoing pandemic and asks that senior administration demonstrate flexibility with those with health concerns. These issues were brought up due to concerns regarding the university’s health and safety policies.
“We had a lengthy, and productive conversation with the campus during our Labor Management meeting,” said Aaron Major, president of Albany’s UUP Chapter. “We agreed with the campus that having open, productive dialogue between UUP and campus management was crucial as we navigate all of the challenges that we face on campus and we reminded campus management that one of the vital roles of the union is to facilitate this communication by creating ways to bring forward the collective concerns of academic and professional faculty, which was the purpose of our open letter.”
“While I do think that the concerns of the Chapter membership were heard, the campus did not directly address any of the specific concerns that we raised,” said Major. However, he did say that the university has begun to offer hybrid options for some of their mandatory in-person meetings, “which we think is a really positive step and a sign that when UUP members raise their voice collectively it has real impact.”
Senior administration sent a message out to faculty last Monday addressing some of the concerns about remote teaching in the open letter.
“While there will always be disagreements, it is important that we have conversations about the issues that are impacting us and how we can enhance and strengthen our institution and better serve our faculty, staff, and students,” said President Havídan Rodríguez in a message to faculty last week.
The telecommuting program, introduced in early Sept., is specific to library faculty and professional staff, who are also represented by UUP, and does not include teaching staff, according to university spokesperson Jordan Carleo-Evangelist. The university is keeping records of the amount of applications submitted, and as of last week, more than 75 applicants have been approved. Carleo-Evangelist said that no applications have been denied to date.
When asked how the university will be accommodating faculty’s concerns, Carleo-Evangelist did not respond.
The ASP attempted to reach out to President Rodríguez for a statement about the open letter. He was unavailable for comment at this time.
“We look forward to continued productive discussions with the University’s bargaining units in upcoming labor-management meetings,” said Todd Foreman, Vice President of the Finance and Administration department. “We all have the same goal: the safe and healthy operation of our campus to deliver the excellent education our students expect.”