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Union Employees Join Penn State’s Indoor Masking Mandate

All Penn State employees are now required to wear masks indoors on campus, according to a university statement.

Previously, a union representing about 2,600 technical service employees was exempt from Penn State’s new indoor masking mandate. Before coming to an agreement with the university, service workers represented by Teamsters Local Union No. 8 followed commonwealth guidance on mask-wearing, which wasn’t mandated at the state level.

“We value our workers’ health, safety, and our community — but also value our bargaining rights,” said union President Jon Light. “This will protect the safety and health of our workers and allow our members to receive paid time off from the University if faced with isolation or quarantine. I’m glad to see that Penn State values the work our members do day in and day out and allows them the security of receiving a paycheck if affected by the pandemic.”

Teamsters Local Union No. 8 represents Penn State’s technical service employees around the state. It encompasses fields like hospitality, maintenance, landscaping, and more.

In a statement, Penn State said administrators worked with the union to discuss mask-wearing as an additional step “to support the health of the university community.”

“Our technical-service employees every day play a critical role in University operations and play an important role in helping to minimize the spread of COVID-19,” said Lorraine Goffe, Penn State’s vice president for human resources. “By partnering with our frontline workers on universal masking protocols, we are enhancing the University’s mitigation efforts and supporting our overall plans for a successful fall semester.”

Penn State introduced an indoor masking mandate on August 4 when nearly half of the counties home to university campuses experienced “substantial” levels of COVID-19 transmission, according to the CDC.

While it’s in effect, indoor mask-wearing is required in environments like classrooms, common areas, and indoor athletic events. Dining halls can continue offering indoor seating, and dorm residents won’t need to mask up in their rooms.

Penn State said it will provide another policy update if and when “the current COVID-19 surge subsides.”

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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