UFE/TESC COVID-19 Working Conditions MOU Update

March 30, 2020

Hola Stewards Council. The United Faculty of Evergreen and Evergreen are pleased to have collaborated on the attached memorandum of understanding https://www.ufevergreen.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19_TESC_UFE-MOU-V2.2-signed.pdf. This document responds to the current pandemic and its implications for our work during the spring quarter, 2020.  The agreement, signed tonight, is in effect immediately through the remainder of spring quarter, and addresses the following main topics (as well as others):

·        Course planning and student course evaluations;

·        Faculty reviews;

·        Faculty working conditions; and

·        Professional travel and development awards.

Given the current crisis, such an MOU is unprecedented. While our MOU is unique to TESC, the UFE’s response is in solidarity with our sister unions, the United Faculty of Washington State (Western Washington University, Eastern Washington University and Central Washington University).  In essence, we strive to honor the collective work of the faculty, staff and administration in support of our students. With everything moving so fast, I feel the MOU addresses some of our most urgent working condition concerns this quarter. I will keep you all informed of other concerns as we work closely with our colleagues and administration this quarter.

In solidarity,

Grace Huerta

UFE Chair

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COVID-19 Faculty Planning Days–March 17, 2020

Greetings UFE Members. I hope you and your loved ones are well. I wanted to write and let you know what the UFE and Provost Drake have been working on with the “Keep Teaching” team over the past few days.

First, the UFE requested from the administration a faculty release for week 1 of the spring quarter. The administration initially offered two days. Registration and financial aid expressed they needed time to support students during this crisis. Together, we were able to agree upon 3 days of release to help support faculty curriculum planning during week 1 and also support staff as they assist students during a complicated transition to the spring quarter.

Secondly, given the World Health Organization’s declaration of a pandemic and Governor Inslee’s state of emergency declaration, the UFE’s position has been that TESC offer remote faculty trainings exclusively. We appreciate Provost Drake and the “Keep Teaching” team support of this position. Our ongoing concerns have been that because the COVID-19 virus presents no initial symptoms, even after several days, practicing social distancing remains critical to limiting its spread. Therefore, as colleges and universities move to online teaching this spring, the UFE stresses safe working conditions for all students, staff and faculty. We maintain that any faculty and staff who do not feel safe in such face-to-face settings, that remote options be made available. We also encourage our staff colleagues to work with their unions to continue to address safe working conditions.

Lastly, the UFE understands that together we share tremendous challenges as we all balance our work duties, fatigue and personal safety during this crisis. The UFE also suggested that the remote faculty trainings be offered during spring break (in shorter segments, video-taped, etc.) which would provide staff and faculty more time to prepare, and more importantly, support the health of our larger community. The UFE expresses their appreciation of our collective efforts to maintain safe working conditions for all.

Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues.

Sincerely, Grace Huerta, UFE Chair, Jon Davies, Co-Chair, Laurie Meeker, Communications Coordinator, Gary McNeil, WEA Higher Education Organizer