In March 2023, we shared the news that without notifying us or agreeing to bargain over the decision, CSU management unilaterally eliminated immunization requirements for students for Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Chickenpox, TDAP (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis), Tuberculosis, and Hepatitis B. These mandatory immunization requirements have been in place for years. (The CSU left in place a vaccine requirement for Hepatitis B.)
When we requested to meet and confer, CSU’s labor relations administrators declined, stating that they did not believe that the matter was a required topic for negotiation or that there was any impact on CSU faculty. CFA filed an unfair practice charge with the California Public Employment Board (PERB), resulting in a complaint from the board that led to a hearing before a PERB administrative law judge last August.
Last week, we received a favorable decision from an administrative law judge (ALJ) at PERB. In issuing the decision, ALJ Camille K. Binnon, ruled that CSU management was obliged to meet and confer with the union over the effects of its decision to eliminate health and safety measures that ensure students do not spread infectious diseases.
“When CFA leaders casually learned from a concerned faculty member that the CSU had unilaterally removed most student vaccine requirements without meeting and conferring with us, and in the wake an infectious disease pandemic no less, we knew they were putting public health at risk on all of our campuses,” said Molly Talcott, CFA Faculty Rights chair and CSU Los Angeles professor. “We are pleased, if unsurprised, that the administrative law judge agreed with us and ruled that the CSU must immediately cease its executive order eliminating vaccine requirements, make any impacted parties whole, as well as meet and confer in good faith with our union, going forward.”
In the administrative hearing, Talcott and CFA Associate Vice President of Lecturers, North, Meghan O’Donnell testified about the lack of notice and potential harm to faculty.
Physician Dr. Richard Pan, a former California senator, an author of vaccine legislation covering K-12 students, and a part-time lecturer at CSU Sacramento, testified about the risks involved in lifting vaccine requirements.
CSU management was cavalierly disregarding public health and faculty concerns and input. The move also goes against California Department of Public Health and American College Health Association guidelines. High immunization levels are critical to preventing outbreaks, and changing the immunization levels on campuses poses serious health risks for students, faculty, staff, and their families.
The CSU has been ordered to, among other things, rescind the 2023 Policy and meet and negotiate with CFA members over the matter. Further, the CSU must “make whole all affected employees for any losses incurred as a result of CSU’s decision to remove requirements for student vaccinations, plus interest at the rate of seven (7) percent per annum.” As with other PERB orders, the CSU must post (in work locations and electronically) a copy of PERB’s notice and order.