November 30, 2022

AAUP Update: Removal of the Student Vaccine Mandate

Colleagues:

On behalf of the three union Presidents, I am writing to inform you that Management has decided to remove the requirement that students be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus to attend classes at Montgomery College or any on-campus services.  The administration will encourage students to be vaccinated against the virus, and students will be told that they are expected to upload their vaccination information. However, no unvaccinated students will be dropped from classes and all unvaccinated students are now welcome to take classes at MC. Meanwhile, staff and faculty remain vaccine-mandated.

The three union heads, Harry Zarin, President AAUP (MC Full-Time Faculty Union), Victoria Baldassano, Director, MC Part-Time Faculty Union (SEIU Local 500), and Lori Ulrich, President AFSCME (MC Staff Union) met with the Senior Vice Presidents last week and were formally told of this decision.  We expressed our displeasure with the decision and also with the fact that we were not consulted in advance. The decision has not yet been communicated to the employees of Montgomery College.  

While it is true that over 90% of our Montgomery County community has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, Senior Management has just opened the doors of MC to the unvaccinated community. They have made the decision to make our very safe environment less safe for all of us. During a time when other colleges and cities are bringing back their mask mandates, our senior leaders have decided to toss the student vaccine mandate out the window. 

As a result of this unwise decision to change a system that was working well to protect all of us, we sent the following message to the Dr. Williams and the Senior Vice Presidents this afternoon. 

The three unions heads, Harry Zarin, President AAUP (MC Full-Time Faculty Union),Victoria Baldassano, Director, MC Part-Time Faculty Union (SEIU Local 500) , Lori Ulrich, President AFSCME (MC Staff Union) respectfully request that the College immediately cease all communications and processes around the removal of the student COVID vaccine mandate and we request that you immediately reinstitute the student vaccine mandate.  

We are deeply concerned about the impact this decision could have on the health and safety of both our constituents and our college students.  We are also deeply concerned that the unions were not consulted about the decision to remove the student vaccine mandate in advance, despite the fact this this impacts our workplace safety and that a key legal role of the unions is to help promote a healthy workspace for our constituents.  Management clearly understands the safety implications of this decision, as they maintain a vaccine mandate for all employees.

By ceasing all processes around the removal of the student mandate and reinstituting the student vaccine mandate, we hope that adequate time might be granted for the unions to properly research the topic on behalf of our constituents, to speak with our constituents about the impact this will have on them, and to begin the conversation with the administration that should have been conducted before this decision was made.

In Solidarity,

Harry Zarin, President AAUP (MC Full-Time Faculty Union) 
Victoria Baldassano, Director, MC Part-Time Faculty Union (SEIU Local 500) 
Lori Ulrich, President AFSCME (MC Staff Union)

We will keep all of you informed if and when we receive a response to our request.

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