Mask and Vaccine Mandates

Dear APA members, 
The APA and Management bargaining teams met on Friday, August 20 and Monday, August 23 to negotiate terms for both a Mask Mandate and a Vaccination Mandate, as proposed by the Council of Presidents and the Department of Higher Ed.  Both mandates have been supported by the NEA and the MTA as the safest measures taken to ensure that students can return to full in-person learning.  Safeguarding employees in their workspaces is of equal concern to management and the unions.  As you are likely aware, students were previously notified of the requirement to be vaccinated before returning to the campuses, and will also be required to wear face-coverings.

On August 19th, Governor Baker announced vaccination requirements for state employees, however, his order did not include Higher Ed employees and allowed for these mandates to be negotiated with the appropriate union leadership.  Massachusetts State Attorney General has stated that these requirements are legally grounded.  The APA sought affirmation on the legality of these measures through MTA legal resources and have been informed that they are legally supported.  Of course, there will be challenges, and we will remain engaged if any actions result in reducing the scope of either mandate.

As of today, August 25, the APA and MSCA collective bargaining units have come to agreement with Management on Mask and Vaccination Mandates.  The overriding goals in approving the mask and vaccine proposals are threefold:

·      To provide the safest possible work environment for our APA members

·      To reopen our campuses, and provide a robust college experience to students

·      To instill confidence that our campuses are considering the health and safety of all constituents

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) documents for both requirements will be posted on the APA website and are attached here.  PLEASE look to these documents for the details of the mandates.  In short:

·      Face-coverings must be worn whenever members are indoors and in non-private spaces, unless an employee applies for and receives a medical exemption

·      If members forget, lose or have damaged masks, the institution will make new ones available

·      Employees can request heightened PPE if their duties require additional equipment

·      Employees are not expected to work with – or serve – students, visitors/guests or others who refuse to comply with the mask mandate

·      Employees are required to receive the appropriate one or two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, unless they apply for and receive a medical or religious exemption

o   They must have received the initial dose by approximately 9/7/2021

o   If required, the second dose must be administered within 4 weeks of the initial dose

o   Employees will comply with receiving a single approved booster, as recommended by the CDC 

·      Members who are not fully vaccinated or who receive an exemption must wear a mask at all times and are required to be tested weekly

·      Members who test positive for COVID will quarantine and not be allowed on campus until they test negative for the disease

o   If able, they may work remotely

o   If unable to work, employees will use sick, personal or vacation leave or take an unpaid leave of absence

·      Unit members without a medical or religious exemption, who refuse to be vaccinated, will not be permitted to work or be on campus

o   They may be allowed to utilize accrued vacation time or unpaid leave for no longer than 6 months.

·      Refusal to comply may result in progressive discipline per Article VIII of the APA Agreement.

The APA bargaining team acknowledges that our unit members are not in unanimous support of these mandates.  Local chapter Presidents communicated their members’ comments and questions on both sides of this very important issue.  Out of concern for the issues raised by those members who were not in favor of imposing mandates, we came close to declaring impasse on the negotiations, which could have resulted in imposing mandates without the Union’s final input.  Although we may be disappointing some of our members, we are confident that we are meeting our obligation to support the communities we represent in the best way we can.

Again, please review the MOA documents.  We thank you for your understanding in these unprecedented times.

On behalf of the APA Bargaining Team, 

Sherry Horeanopoulos

President, Association of Professional Administrators