From the beginning of the pandemic, our CSUEU Bargaining Team has been walking a tightrope on pandemic responses. The unilateral actions of the CSU put the Union in a complicated position – do we allow management to act without bargaining or do we slow down responses by insisting on our rights? The University implemented several measures in a hasty response to the growing health crisis in March. In a rush-to-the-lifeboats approach, faculty and students moved off-campus while the University implemented virtual learning. Many Support Staff, meanwhile, remained working on-site, often time with no clear understanding of the rationale driving campus decision-making. CSUEU argued that emergency pay was due to all the remaining staff, leading to the CSU’s order for all but essential employees to be placed on telecommuting assignments or leave. Initially, the CSU planned to place non-telecommuting employees on their own leave (vacation or sick) but the Union argued that this would violate the guarantee of work in the union contract and the law. This resulted in the development of the Coronavirus Paid Administrative Leave Program (CPAL) and later the Non-Telecommuting Workers Leave (NTWL). Some employees were at higher risk for serious illness according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and were also unable to telecommute. These employees were placed on separate temporary paid administrative leave (TPAL). This constituted the University’s vulnerable population policy. CSUEU’s position on the policies was consistent – emergency conditions justified quick and unilateral implementation but all work policies would eventually be subject to negotiations. We remained in constant communication with the administration but never waived our rights to collective bargaining. The Chancellor’s Office did not bargain. Instead, they insisted they could create their own policies on pay and leave without negotiating their start or stop. In May, the CSU stopped emergency pay even though pandemic conditions at the campuses were worse than in March. In July, they announced changes for eligibility for vulnerable population status and TPAL. Although the union contract said telecommuting was voluntary, the CSU gave employees no choice and required employees to pay their own costs for internet and cellular services. In all of these situations, CSUEU filed unfair labor practices with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) asserting our right to bargain over changes in wages, hours, and working conditions. Repopulation Bargaining Taking a step back from unilateral action, the CSU provided bargaining notices to CSUEU on campus repopulation plans. We immediately suggested a systemwide task force to propose common health and safety standards and best practices. The Chancellor’s Office refused and so began 24 separate campus negotiations on returning to campus operations. CSUEU proposed a 13-Point Plan – derived from the recommendations of the American Collegiate Health Association (ACHA). These 13 points recommended effective screening and testing procedures and workplace protections for social distancing, protective personal equipment, ventilation, etc. We also proposed extension of leave provisions for isolation and quarantine orders, vulnerable populations, and dependent care. Campus negotiations soon foundered on leave and telecommuting issues which campuses insisted were systemwide issues – the same issues the Chancellor’s Office refused to bargain with CSUEU. None of the campus repopulation negotiations could be completed. PERB Acts and the CO Changes Positions The first of the unfair labor practices involved emergency pay. CSU bypassed the union contract’s emergency pay provisions to implement their own version. They then unilaterally stopped the pay on May 31 when it became too expensive to allow more employees to be moved back to campus. PERB issued a complaint in favor of the Union (moving the charge forward to hearing). This strongly indicated that CSU’s May 31 halt to emergency pay had misfired, leaving them on the hook for continued pay. The CSU then flipped their position, asking the Union to negotiate and settle the unfair labor practice issues. CSUEU responded by demanding settlement negotiations on all the pandemic issues – emergency pay, vulnerable population policy, paid leave for isolation/quarantine/testing, and telecommuting. The Chancellor’s Office agreed and a settlement meeting is set. What can we expect from this bargaining? CSUEU is adamant that the pandemic cannot be solved by putting employee pay at risk. We have enough problems in layoffs without adding the loss of leaves and risking pay docks for continued spread of COVID-19. We also have to fairly compensate those employees who are frontline in this pandemic – the health care workers, custodians, police dispatchers and others who have continuously served on the campus treating students and maintaining the University in the emergency.