[Publisher’s Note: This is a developing story. It will be updated as new developments occur.]
The Pasadena City College Faculty Association announced Sunday it will be filing an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the Pasadena Area Community College District for refusing to negotiate over Monday’s scheduled return to in-person instruction.
Saying in an email to faculty that this is a “stressful time,” PCC Superintendent/President Erika Endrijonas countered Sunday night that the District “has been negotiating, and will continue to negotiate, in good faith with all bargaining units.”
Meanwhile, a PCC spokesperson said the college remained on track to welcome students and employees back to campus Monday morning.
It will be the first time most students have returned to campus for classes in nearly two years because of the pandemic.
Special Assistant to the Superintendent/President Alex Boekelheide pointed to safety measures the college has put in place to protect students and faculty.
On-campus class sizes have been reduced to half their usual size, to ensure adequate distance and reduce the chances of crowding. As of Jan. 4, nearly 20,000 PCC students and employees had been verified as fully vaccinated, according to Boekelheide.
3,536 COVID tests were administered over the weekend at PCC, he reported.
The Omicron variant of the virus has run rampant across the country leading to some closures and renewed concerns about safety protocols in learning institutions.
“Folks were excited to be back on campus after being gone,” Boekelheide said. “We also had a lot of students say this was their first time on campus.”
But the PCC Faculty Association said that the safety measures being taken are not enough to justify “rushing back to in-person classes in the midst of the largest COVID surge in history.”
“We are appalled at the District’s continued callous and illegal disregard for the health and safety of faculty and students,” the Association said in a Sunday statement which went on to announce that the Association planned to file an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the District for refusing to negotiate over remote instruction in view of safety issues affecting faculty and students alike.
The Faculty Association told its membership that all Faculty who are concerned for their health and safety because of the current COVID surge in LA County should inform the District of their conviction that they should, for safety reasons, continue conducting their courses remotely, off-campus, during their scheduled days and times.
According to Faculty Association President Mark Whitworth, “many faculty … do not plan to return to campus on Monday.”