On Wednesday, the World Health Organization announced the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak is a global pandemic. Every campus in the UC system has announced that instruction and exams will be moved online for some period of time to avert further transmission. UAW 5810 and UAW 2865 (the TA, tutor, and reader union) have jointly issued a demand to bargain with UC to ensure all necessary steps are taken to protect Postdocs, Academic Researchers, and Academic Student Employees amid this unprecedented challenge. You can read the demand letter here.
It is also important that you know your rights as a Postdoc or Academic Researcher. We have summarized the key items below. You can find more extensive info here – a resource that will be updated in real-time.
- Sick time: all Postdocs and Academic Researchers are guaranteed Paid Sick Leave per our union contracts that can also be used to care for a family member. UC has announced they will provide up to 14 days of paid administrative leave for employees who use all their paid sick leave.
- COVID-19 testing: cost-sharing is waived for medically-necessary COVID-19 screenings and tests, as well as related doctor’s office, urgent care and outpatient hospital visits (including emergency departments) for the Postdoc health plans, as well as the Kaiser and Health Net Blue and Gold plans available to ARs.
- Travel: all non-essential university-sponsored international travel has been cancelled. If you have made any out-of-pocket expenses, please look into travel insurance to get reimbursed. And if you need to travel, we strongly encourage you to register for travel insurance (see both the UC-sponsored and personal travel insurance options). The CDC also recommends that all non-essential travel abroad be postponed. Finally, last night the Trump administration announced a 30-day travel ban from most of Europe to the US for all foreign nationals, starting March 12.
- F and J Visa: UC has announced that the US Department of Homeland Security and Department of State have approved exceptions to visa program requirements, e.g. to accommodate online course engagement for students attending institutions that have made COVID-19 adaptations.
- Remote work / telecommuting: campuses have sent out directives encouraging alternative work arrangements to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and have instructed supervisors to work directly with employees to make arrangements. Please contact us if you have any concerns or to seek advice.
If you have questions about your rights, a concern about changes to your working conditions, or want to report on best practices that should be implemented more broadly, please reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also consult your contract here.