It is at moments such as these that we understand why we are a union. Due to consequences of the global pandemic, the University recently announced a bleak long-term outlook. There were hints at the chances that staffing changes may be one of the options used to address the forecasted challenges. Prior to that public announcement, your APA had already been at the front line, in talks with the University. Your APA successfully pushed back on proposed ideas which would have removed several of your existing contractual rights and protections. The situation has highlighted a need for additional language in our bargaining agreement regarding potential furloughs, as furlough language is not addressed in our current contract. Your APA has proposed conceptual language for a Letter of Agreement to the University to help clarify the situation. We continue to be that fortress wall, advocating for your protection. The key strength at those discussions is your shared perspectives, and it was your voice that said, sacrifice of our previously bargained rights and protections is not how we build bridges to a brighter future for all of us.
We all understand and feel the pressure as we hope for a quick solution to a short-term problem, but good decisions are not made in haste and especially during a crisis. It is too soon to tell whether this will indeed be a short-term problem or whether it will span a longer duration. Your APA will not gamble with your livelihood by rolling the dice and agreeing to a solution that does not consider both possibilities. Your APA drives to keep our families secure. Imagine a bridge being built over a chasm. Those who wish to pass safely have a mutual interest in working together. How we build that bridge, as a team is important to the whole team. We welcome the chance to continue dialogue with the University as this path forward is developed with the goal being for everyone to arrive at our brighter future with as few bumps and scrapes as possible.
Pandemics and University business decisions, as a combination, can be formidable. We have been sending you notes of encouragement and support as the uncertainty of these days permeates every part of our lives. We already are learning to deal with the changes in our work. And honestly that never quits changing. Where we do need to focus is on our long-term self-care. If you need a day to de-stress, take it (following the terms of the contract, of course). Don’t delay when helping yourselves. The work-life balance is more important than ever in these stressful times.
Please be sure to check-in on each other. Keep letting your APA leadership know how you are doing and by all means share your perspectives. Be safe.