COVID Rights & Protections

What are your rights under the new Winter Term COVID Policy?

Can I request a pivot to remote because of childcare issues?

You can request this of your supervisor, and you are protected against discriminatory retaliation to this request based on your parental status under the law.

Can I request a pivot to remote even if I have not had 20% confirmed cases in my class?

It is the position of the GTFF that the University’s position related to 20% absenteeism is in violation of our contract, as it constitutes a change in our working conditions subject to bargaining. Additionally, Article 10 of our Collective Bargaining Agreement and our most recent Letter of Agreement with the University ensures your access to safe working conditions. You may therefore leave unsafe working conditions with legal protections from retaliation, in line with our contract (see the next question below for more information on your rights under Article 10 of our contract).

What are my rights under “Article 10: Health, Safety and Work Environment” of our contract?

Article 10 guarantees you many rights and protections, which apply to GEs in any role, from teaching to research to office work. The most relevant rights here include: 

  • The right to a “safe, clean, and healthy work environment.”
  • The right to “refuse to work in unsafe spaces, whether or not the space is owned or controlled by the University.”
  • The right to free, proper PPE. It is the GTFF’s position that, to minimize COVID-19 exposure, N95/KN95/KF94 masks constitute necessary PPE in the workspace, as the clause states “it is the responsibility of the University to provide, at no cost to the GE, all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).” It is also GTFF’s position that not receiving adequate PPE from the university makes the work environment unsafe under this clause, allowing for the other actions listed in this clause, such as leaving the unsafe work environment, to be taken.
  • The right to report “to the supervisor that a specific task or assignment may jeopardize personal health or safety.” If a correction is not made, you have the right to “refuse to perform such activity without penalty until the appropriate health or safety officer has reviewed the situation and made a finding.” That means you may legally refuse to work in an unsafe classroom/lab/studio/office space altogether until the situation has been reviewed by the appropriate health or safety officer.  Protection against employer retaliation for exercising these rights will be resolved through the grievance process.
  • Employment disability accommodations process for all GEs in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Unreasonable denial of accommodations are resolved through the grievance process.

How is the University tracking the 20% requirement?

    The University has not disclosed how they intend to track this requirement.

Can I take paid sick leave because my child or dependent is showing symptoms of COVID?

Yes, Article 29 Section 8 extends the use of paid sick leave to cover “attendance upon members of the employee’s immediate family.”

Can I take unpaid leave if I am a research GE and feel unsafe coming to campus?

Yes, you can take unpaid leave if you are a research GE and feel unsafe coming to campus (Article 10). If you feel like you are working in unsafe conditions, you can reach out to your committee and fill out a department-specific form to ask for a term-long unpaid leave. Taking leave can be a strategic, albeit risky option for GEs to take in departments to show the power GEs have when we show solidarity in collective actions. If you are interested in learning more about taking unpaid leave as a statement of solidarity, please reach out to your department stewards. 

What are my rights as a research GE? 

We understand that research GEs have different circumstances from teaching GEs, and it is more difficult for them to move remotely for work. We suggest that GEs in teaching positions reach out to their department stewards if they have specific safety concerns in their lab or workspace, and we will address them on a case-by-case basis. You can also reach out to OVPRI for more information specific to research GEs.

What are my rights as an International GE? 

As our website states on our FAQ, union activities will not jeopardize your visa. The rights listed above (such as those covered by Article 10 and Article 29), also apply to international GEs.  If you experience or suspect retaliation from UO faculty, administrators, or law enforcement as a result of your participation in union activities, contact the GTFF immediately. The GTFF and our parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, are committed to protecting the rights and interests of all GEs at UO, including our international colleagues.