December 4, 2020
Holiday greetings to all and best wishes for the season;
As was mentioned at the APA Annual Meeting in November, we have reached several agreements related to contract, remote work, health and safety, and vacation time accrual. We are also almost at the point of offering the APA’s first ELECTRONIC ratification vote. Details are below, but first, please accept the Executive Board’s hearty appreciation for the unprecedented participation in our Annual Meeting. Some Board members commented that we might consider making a habit of hosting a virtual Annual Meeting – as so many members (over 300!) were able to attend. We’ll see – it’ll be really nice to see people in 3-D again, too!
The APA Website contains documents that members should take a few minutes to review. In November, we negotiated Health and Safety guidelines to be considered in the workplace as we continue to experience the effects of the global pandemic. These guidelines (COVID MOA) are in effect while we are dealing with COVID19 and its impact on the workplace and are based on a similar document developed with MSCA.
Our 2017-2020 APA Agreement was missing an appendix that has finally been completed: Appendix K, Position Characteristics. Appendix K is designed to provide insight into the various Union position titles.
We are excited to announce that we have negotiated a new Remote Work Arrangement Policy that addresses remote work situations during the course of the pandemic, but also sets the stage for future opportunities in flexible working conditions. We have been pursuing this kind of policy for our higher education environment for a long time. The Policy has roots in the State of Massachusetts Telework for Commonwealth Employees guidelines and has been embraced – thanks to the astounding work that has been accomplished by our exceptional workforce – during the last nine months of clearly meeting the challenge of keeping our institutions viable during the pandemic. Kudos to all of you!
Our Bylaws require some updating to reflect the latest needs of the organization. The Bylaws, with changes highlighted in the text for your review, is being emailed to you. If you have comments about the content of the changes, please funnel questions up to the Board through your local chapter president. Our request for your approval of the changes will be included with the electronic contract ratification vote. (More on that below.)
Good news for members who are trying to use their excess (over 375) hours of accrued vacation time. The BHE has offered to extend the deadline for using the time until June 30, 2021. We are currently working with Michael Murray (BHE) to finalize the Agreement. Your local chapter President and HR Director will receive the Agreement shortly and distribute it to you. If you have been scrambling to use a lot of time prior to the end of the year, this extension will help you use the time before it has to be rolled. PLEASE make sure you ask to use the time, but also PLEASE try to use it. We all need a break from these exceptional working conditions.
Finally, we have agreed to extend the current APA Agreement, with no language changes, until June 30, 2021. Considered a “Successor Agreement”, this 2020-2021 Agreement will need to be ratified by the membership. All other Higher Ed unions have ratified contract extensions. The ratification vote will be accomplished electronically through email. You will have a 24-hour window in which to vote and will receive credentials and instructions through your campus email account. Included in your two-question ballot will be a request to accept Bylaw changes. You can expect the Ratification vote in early January and more information will be forthcoming, once the signed Memorandum of Agreement is in hand.
Best Holiday Wishes to all of you and your families!