28 Jul UICUF Response to Vaccine Mandate
- Vaccine Mandated for Faculty, Staff: Per an email circulated this week, the UI system is extending its vaccine mandate to include all faculty and staff.
- Decision Subject to Bargaining: As the administration message states, health and safety conditions are mandatory subjects of collective bargaining, and UICUF will engage in this process immediately.
- Many Questions Remain: We’ve started receiving questions about this mandate and encourage faculty to continue funneling those questions to us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. We are striving to build as complete a picture as possible as we work with UIC Administration on the details of its COVID safety plans.
By now, you have likely received a message from UI administration, reporting an extension of the university’s vaccine mandate to include all faculty and staff, with the possibility of medical or religious exemptions. A vaccine mandate for students was originally announced earlier this summer, with the option to seek medical or religious exemption or to simply take classes 100% remotely. Following the UI email, UIC administration provided further guidance on how the mandate will be implemented on our campus, including a mask requirement and a website to seek an exemption.
The decision to extend the mandate to employees was relayed to UIC United Faculty, and our fellow union organizations on campus, only a few hours before it was announced to the campus community. As such, it has not been fully vetted or bargained. The vast majority of our members (93% of those responding to our poll earlier this summer) suggested they would support a universal vaccine mandate, though many questions remain about implementation, and UICUF is seeking answers to questions our members have raised. Among those questions and concerns are how the mandate may be enforced, whether accommodations for remote teaching will be offered to those with vulnerable household members, and how the planned requirement for vaccine status disclosure impacts people’s health privacy. It is also the union’s continued position that while vaccines are an important part of an overall safety plan, requiring vaccination does not excuse a lack of attention to structural safety issues like ventilation.
Health and safety considerations are mandatory subjects of bargaining, and as the administration’s notice states, roll-out of this mandate will be implemented through collective bargaining for faculty in our bargaining unit. We plan to meet with the administration’s representatives and resolve written guidance for implementation ASAP. Our fellow campus unions are making similar moves to ensure that the workers affected by this decision have a say in its implementation, and we by no means consider the policy described to be the final word on the subject.
We’ve received a number of inquiries about specifics of this mandate, and we strongly encourage you to continue sending us those questions. While we may not have immediate answers, we are following up on each inquiry, and your thoughts and concerns are important to our understanding of faculty needs as we go into discussion with the administration over implementation guidelines. You can submit any questions or comments to us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com, and we will make every effort to address them quickly.
UIC United Faculty
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