This page will host all recent COVID-19 updates and resources that we find useful as this situation develops. Check back here for news specifically relating to GA’s.
Fall 2020 – Updated 8/13/20
- The Fall 2020 term will be taught mostly remote. See PSU’s “Flexible Fall” page for more information.
- Graduate Assistants were given “COVID-19 related leave.” This leave can be used for any reason and will expire in December.
- You can check out laptops, webcams, and other equipment from the PSU library. The library can mail these items to your home. The PSU library also will mail physical books to your home via the Home Delivery form.
- Many GAs have reported an increased workload while working remotely, particularly as a Teaching Assistant. Reach out to the Grievance Committee at email@example.com if you are working over your FTE.
- Our Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates in Section 13.3.1 that “It is the responsibility of the University to provide, at no cost to the GAs, all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) required for the safe and healthy execution of their duties, including work in the field…” If you have concerns or PPE needs that are not being met by your supervisor please contact the Grievance Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020 course evaluations will not be used for evaluative purposes for TAs and Instructors of Record unless the GA requests it. GEU secured this contractual protection through negotiations with the PSU administration.
- Stay up to date with GEU throughout the pandemic by ensuring your electronic FERPA release form is signed. Go to Banweb -> My Account -> Graduate Assistant FERPA Consent. This allows PSU to release your contact information to GEU.
The Spring 2020 term will be taught fully remotely. This shift is not a shit to online education, which implies an additional set of fees.
If you are able to work from home, you do not need to use sick leave. If you are unable to work, you can access your sick leave on Banweb.
You are under no obligation to work above your FTE to make this transition to remote. Track your hours and reach out to us at email@example.com if you are being asked to exceed your FTE. We understand the push for perfect pedagogy, but this is a crucial time for mental and physical well being – do not overwork yourself.
PSU is allowing GA’s to take home office equipment like computers. If you do not have a computer of your own to utilize, you may rent from the library. Certain departments have been given additional funding to purchase equipment like webcams, contact your department chair about this.
GEU’s office is closed for the foreseeable future, but we are still active. Our social media and email accounts are still being checked regularly, so reach out to us on any platform with questions.
MESSAGE FROM YOUR EXECUTIVE BOARD
Our leaders in the Graduate Employees’ Union are continuing their work in ensuring that all graduate assistants’ needs are met in this time of uncertainty and change. We remain focused on the upcoming contract negotiations, where we intend to bargain for a new healthcare system at PSU – one that works for our needs and doesn’t break our bank. In addition to this, we also are working to ensure that Portland State doesn’t cut corners in providing GA’s with all that we need to do our job as we make the shift to remote education.
Our union remains committed to the principles of solidarity and will continue to communicate as the situation unfolds. Even though we are experiencing physical distancing, we are striving to uphold social unity and a sense of community among workers. Though we may not get to interact face-to-face in these coming weeks, our union remains a that is inclusive of all of us. We have created a Slack channel dedicated to discussing our frustrations, sharing pedagogical tips, and hosting member-led social activities, like workouts and game nights, and extend an invitation to all to join us there – follow this link to join.
We encourage all members to reach out to us across any medium necessary. Our website is up and running and we can be found on twitter and instagram. Questions, suggestions, and concerns can also be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GEU has been working with our sister unions in the PSU-FA (part-time faculty) and PSU-AAUP (professors) to represent our members’ interests to university management. Their camaraderie has been crucial in this time. We also wish to acknowledge the Associated Students of Portland State (ASPSU), the Service Employees International United (SEIU) 503, and the countless other pro-worker and pro-student groups in our community that are putting in the extra effort to keep us healthy.
Here are some of the positive results yielded from our communications with PSU alongside PSU-FA and PSU-AAUP.
4/08/2020 Letter to the Board of Trustees – Click here to read a letter sent to the Board of Trustees regarding demands relating to COVID-19 job security for GA’s moving forward.
Interim Pres. Percy Commits to No Covid Layoffs: In an official communication to GEU from Interim Pres. Percy, we were told “there will be no lay-offs of GA’s or grant-funded researchers”.
Mandatory Fee Relief: A reduction in recurring mandatory fees has been proposed by the Student Fee Association for this spring term, as buildings are inaccessible.
Tech From Home: Office/lab computers may be brought home for remote use. Additionally, equipment can be rented from the library (see here for a start). Check with your department about additional funds for accessories as well.
Course Evaluation: Officially waived, meaning evaluations will be shared with instructors and that is it.
Family flexibility: PI’s have been instructed to allow flexibility for GA’s who need to attend to family needs. Reach out to us if this is violated.
PASS/NOPASS GRADING: In all courses that shift to P/NP grading, a Passing grade will be accepted towards graduation requirements, even if previous requirements state that a letter grade is required.
We have been attempting to negotiate a one time bonus for instructors of record, as the workload many GA’s are experiencing exceeds the nominal expectations. This has been resisted, but we intend to keep fighting.
COMMON CONTRACT QUESTIONS
Overworking: Know your FTE, track your hours. GA’s at PSU are inclined to excellence, this much is known. However, you owe it to your health and the health of your loved ones to know when to draw the line. If you are being asked to exceed FTE during this transition, reach out to us.
Sick Leave: GA’s accrue sick leave at the rate of one hour per thirty hours earned and this can be reviewed in your Banweb. In the event that you take sick leave, you are under no obligation to find a replacement. While on sick leave, your tuition remission will remain valid and your stipend will remain unchanged.
Additionally sick leave has been expanded under the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response act. This offers GA’s expanded emergency sick leave as well as expanded family and medical leave. This should provide families with expanded options for staying home to care for relatives or children as well as alleviate some stress in accessing sick pay. Click herefor more information.
Changes in Enrollment: If you struggle to maintain your 9 credit enrollment, there is no automatic forfeiture of your tuition remission. Our contract stipulates that the university will endeavor to accommodate in extreme circumstances, which COVID certainly encompasses.
If you have healthcare via PSU your care will continue uninterrupted. Many GA’s receive healthcare through a separate job, which may be under threat right now. If your non-PSU employer provided healthcare is no longer available, you can still sign up for PSU’s healthcare plan. To begin the opt-in process, GA’s should email email@example.com before April 17th.
We will be adding to this ongoing list of resources for remote learning in this time. If you have suggestions or requests for resources to be added, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
AM I AT RISK? – Health resources in 25 different languages about symptoms to keep an eye out for, tips for reducing exposure risks and what to do if you think you’ve caught the COVID, courtesy of the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health.
GEU Isolation Nation – GEU specific Slack channel with further resources, community engagement, and channels for venting and destressing.
Higher Ed and the Coronavirus – Facebook group started by higher education workers for the purposes of discussing pedagogy and remote education resources.
Doing Field Work In a Pandemic – Master sheet of resources for continuing research during a pandemic.
Libby – App for your phone or tablet that links to your local library. Check out that book that’s been on your list all year and keep Portland’s libraries in use!
Workplace Compensation – if you contract COVID 19 in the workplace, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Check the link for more.
Mental Health Mastersheet – check here for a compilation of all things mental health. This is an incredibly detailed list that reaches wide across many afflictions.
Clockify – app for tracking your work hours.