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COVID-19 Week Five Updates from UCWGA/KSU

13 Apr, 2020

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Days without response from President Whitten since our March 29 memo: 11
Days since last Coronavirus update to the KSU response page: 25

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On March 29, 2020, KSU's United Campus Workers of Georgia (UCW-GA) chapter sent a memo to KSU President Whitten and her cabinet. The letter asserted our rights as workers to know what is going on during the COVID-19 crisis and have a say in how our university responds and protects staff, students, and faculty. 

We were happy to see that the letter quickly circulated through departments across campus! However, we still have not received an official response from President Whitten. In the meantime, we continue to track how the COVID-19 response is affecting campus  workers. We will continue to update you regularly as we receive new information. 

Given limited information from the administration, and as those of us who are able to shelter in place, it is hard to know the full impact of COVID-19 on campus workers. We ask that you let us know what is happening for you so that we can continue to share with each other. 

Updates and feedback requests from our March 29 demands:

“Guarantee pay for all full-time, part-time, temporary, contingent, or student staff and faculty at current wages (including number of hours per week for hourly employees) during disruptions due to this pandemic.” 

Non-Closure Emergency Leave with Pay in effect 3/23/20-5/7/20. This does not apply to part-time workers or student workers. Also, salary protections from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act are in effect from 4/1/20-12/31/20, but the groups eligible for each are different.

Are you a KSU worker who has not been or is not being paid? Let us know so we can fight for our rights together.

“Partner with the Faculty Senate to provide faculty with an option to suspend promotion and tenure calendars by one year.” 

Provost emailed all faculty on 4/1/20 that tenure track faculty will be eligible to apply for a one year extension on their tenure clocks (including pre-tenure reviews). Application details are TBD. Some consultation with Faculty Senate currently underway on implementation; some Senators are urging that the one year pause be the default option and faculty given a way to “opt out” if they wish.

Are you a faculty member affected by this and have concerns? Let us know.

“Guarantee free telehealth visits for all workers on campus not covered by a USG health plan.”

KSU HR emailed on 3/29/20 offering free COVID-19 telehealth screenings for benefits-enrolled employees and covered dependents. Please note that this is a risk assessment screening and is not an actual test for COVID-19.

Are you a worker who is not covered by this or who isn’t receiving adequate coverage? Let us know so that we can work together to make sure everyone has access to healthcare.

“Refund paid parking fees from March 1 and suspend future parking fees for all faculty, staff, and students.”

Employees can request terminating monthly deductions for parking fees by emailing <talonone at kennesaw dot edu>. UGA (another USG university) demanded parking fees be refunded and they were! Their union and collective worker demands worked!

Are you having trouble canceling your parking? Do you think we should automatically be refunded? Let us know your experience and thoughts.

“Mandate telework for ALL employees who are able to do so.” 

This has been left up to individual supervisors so there is still inconsistency across campus.

Do you believe you should be eligible for teleworking? Let us know so that we can work together to advocate for equitable policies on campus.

“Shut down all physical parts of campuses not required for resident students to eliminate exposure risks for ALL personnel, and repurpose our campuses to expand coronavirus treatment capacity.”

Do you think you are unnecessarily coming to campus? Let us know.

“Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies for all employees who cannot work remotely until campuses are shut down.”

Are you working on campus without proper PPE? Let us know so that we can work together to advocate for safer working conditions.

“Allow donations to, and requests for, shared sick leave outside of open enrollment. Current USG policy stipulates that “institutions should consider flexibility in this policy in rare and exceptional circumstances involving pandemic emergencies.”

Do you need extra sick leave time? Are you willing to donate extra sick leave time? Let know so that we can help each other out during the crisis.

“Expand access to the shared sick leave pool to non-regular hourly employees whom the COVID-19 pandemic affects”

Please let us know if this expansion would be helpful for you.

“Include the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student Government Association, and Part-Time Faculty Council in future decisions that impact campus operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Are you a member of one of these bodies? Have you tried to find out information from the administration or work with them? Let us know what their response has been, if any, so that we can work collectively to amplify workers’ concerns.

“Schedule three interactive virtual town halls; one for faculty, one for staff, and one for students. The student virtual town hall should include all leaders of registered student organizations as well as SGA leadership. Each town hall should include an open question/answer section or an organized, democratic way to submit questions and should be recorded and well publicized.”

Would you like to participate in a virtual town hall? What would you like to know from the administration? Let us know so that we can work together to get answers.

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Contact us!

Please contact the chapter for details about the work of the union. We are also meeting weekly during this time to build more contact time for all of us. Send us an email for an invite to our weekly Wednesday Zoom call this Wednesday, April 15, at 5:15pm. Our email: <ucwga dot ksu at gmail dot com>

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