The UNC Board of Governors and administrations of all UNC System universities have not heard systematic input from essential front-line workers – including housekeepers, groundskeepers, food service, maintenance, libraries, IT, grad workers and professors – who have deep concerns regarding the current state of the COVID-19 response, especially with the planned return of students this fall.
The pandemic has a disproportionate impact on essential Black and Brown workers, and policy failures will inevitably fall hardest on their shoulders at a time when their health is already at risk.
We do not believe it safe to return to campus for in-person teaching under the current administration’s weak plan due to an incredibly high level of safety concerns from a wide array of campus body members. These concerns include, but are not limited to, the lack of a comprehensive response plan for when a member of the campus body inevitably tests positive for COVID-19, the lack of a mass testing apparatus to address COVID-19 outbreaks, and the lack of consideration of personal healthcare costs and inevitable deaths among employees that will result from such a decision.
As NC continues to peak statewide laboratory-confirmed cases and hospitalizations, the efforts to stop the spread in UNC System have either stalled or gone backward. The university has rolled back hazard pay and compensatory time for mandatory employees. Administrative leave has been rolled back leaving hundreds of temporary employees with severely reduced or no pay, and permanent employees required to use up to 13+ hours of leave per week. Additionally, protective equipment remains rationed with employees being required to reuse disposable masks for periods of time up to a week.
As part of our #SafeJobsSaveLives campaign, the NC Public Service Workers Union, along with the American Association of University Professors will be hosting a Town Hall to hear the voices of campus workers, and to lay out our collect demands.
New Campaign website: https://www.workersofunc.org
UE150 and AAUP have also launched a new Workers Of UNC website to coordinate marches, phone banks and other actions to push back against opening of UNC System universities.