Mask and Vaccine Mandates

Dear MSCA Librarians and faculty,

I apologize for the length of this update; however, a great deal happened this week and a detailed explanation is in order.  Many of you are already hearing from your university president.

Face Coverings:
On August 9th the MSCA learned that Framingham State University, Salem State University and Westfield State University had unilaterally implemented face covering policies for MSCA unit members without having first provided the MSCA an opportunity to negotiate the policies, or the impact of the polices (referred to as “impact negotiations”). (We subsequently learned that MassArt had also implemented face covering policy.)

Impact negotiations are separate from the ongoing “successor” negotiations, which are for a new collective bargaining agreement.  Impact negotiations operate under different rule under Chapter 150E.

Such unilateral implementation is a violation of state law, namely Chapter 150E, the collective bargaining law.

As a result, on August 10th, the MSCA sent the BHE and state university presidents a cease and desist letter.  The MSCA requested that the state universities not enforce mandatory face covering policies for MSCA unit members and not implement new mandatory face covering polices for MSCA unit members at those state universities where no such policy had yet been implemented.

To be clear, the MSCA strongly recommends that members follow CDC guidelines regarding wearing face coverings while on campus.

The letter went on to indicate that the MSCA Board would be meeting to consider authorizing the two bargaining committees to negotiate the impact of these face covering polices.  The MSCA Constitution requires the Board of Directors to authorize the bargaining committees to enter any negotiations (successor or mid-term/impact) prior to doing so.

On August 10-11 the MSCA Board of Directors voted unanimously to authorize the two bargaining committees to jointly negotiate the impact of face covering polices.

As the vote was taking place, on August 11th, the presidents sent a response to the MSCA’s letter indicating that they would not enforce the policies that were announced for MSCA unit members, nor implement new policies for MSCA unit members until the MSCA had an opportunity to bargain over the impact.

On August 13th the MSCA sent a response to the presidents informing them that the MSCA bargaining teams were authorized to enter impact negotiations regarding the face covering polices.   Those impact negotiations have yet to be scheduled, but the day bargaining team has successor negotiations scheduled for August 17, and the DGCE bargaining team has successor negotiations scheduled for August 18th.

The second sentence of the second paragraph of the presidents’ response on August 11th states “In addition, the state universities also seek to implement a mandatory vaccination requirement and intend to include this policy as part of these mid-term bargaining negotiations.”  This was the first time the MSCA was notified that the state universities intended to require MSCA unit members to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The MSCA’s response to this included the statement “To be clear, that MSCA Board has not authorized either bargaining committee to enter mid-term negotiation regarding policies mandating that bargaining unit members be vaccinated against COVID-19. Management is welcome to raise the matter at either of the ongoing day or DGCE successor negotiations that are underway.

I remind you, the day team will be conducting successor negotiations on August 17th, and the DGCE team will be conducting successor negotiations on August 18th.

To be clear, the MSCA strongly recommends that members be vaccinated against COVID-19 as it is one of the best ways to protect you, your colleagues and your family.

If you have questions or concerns you should contact your chapter president or your day or DGCE bargaining committee representatives.

CJ O’Donnell
MSCA President