Dear Esteemed Colleagues,

It  was wonderful to virtually see so many of you this week.  However, the palpable anxiety brought on by this unending pandemic has hung like a dark cloud over our Flex Day activities.  Foremost on many people’s minds was Tuesday’s decision by our Board of Trustees to “stay the course” and move ahead with the majority face-to-face semester as originally planned.  This comes despite the alarming COVID numbers in our county, in particular the giant spike in new infections from the ongoing Omicron variant outbreak, and in the context of the need for improved safety protections in our district.

Your union is here to tirelessly advocate so that your return to work on campus happens as safely as possible, and we are pressuring our District leadership to make it so.  Here for your information are some updates on the progress AFT has made.

  • We’ve negotiated a fresh MOU for Spring 2022, which guarantees you certain rights if you develop COVID symptoms or test positive for COVID.  If either of these happens to you, District policy specifies that you SHOULD NOT COME TO CAMPUS. Instead, if you must quarantine due to Covid or care for a family member who needs to quarantine or isolate due to Covid, the MOU guarantees you the following options: you may shift your work to a synchronous online modality, or work with your dean to have a colleague sub for you.  These options apply for as long as you are unable to get a confirmed negative test result (Spring 2022 MOU, Article 3B)
  • Thank you for sharing your perspectives at our AFT Flex Day Virtual Lunch. Over 70 members stopped by to hear about what our union is doing to respond to the Board of Trustees’ decision and to share their concerns.
  • Over 400 members responded to our AFT COVID Survey in 24 hours, a record-breaking response rate.  Overall, the survey showed that about 60% of respondents feel unsafe or very unsafe returning to campus, suggesting that the District has not done nearly enough to put in place the recommended public health measures that will get our campuses ready for all of us to return to in-person work. (See Survey results here.)
  • AFT continues to take members’ COVID concerns very seriously.  We’ve come up with the following list of demands, which we have presented to Chancellor Claire and the college presidents (see our letter here) and are sharing with the Board of Trustees:
    • Universal on-demand testing for everyone who asks to be tested
    • Basic campus safety equipment, including N95 masks or the equivalent for everyone—faculty, staff and students—and air purifiers for all employees who request them
    • The option to work remotely for all District employees until San Mateo County is out of the red (“high”) COVID transmission tier
  • Please keep organizing with us. Come to our second emergency meeting to discuss how we can make the District meet our demands for our campus communities’ safety. We will meet this coming Tuesday, January 18th, from 4:30 to 5:30 at this Zoom link:
  • We are here for you.  Please contact us if there is anything you need from us to help support you in your return to face-to-face work next week.  Stay tuned for messages from your union as we move forward with our efforts to ensure everyone’s health and safety in this precarious time.

In solidarity,

The AFT 1493 Executive Committee