COVID-19 Week Five Updates from UCWGA/KSU
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.
“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.
“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.
“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!
“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.
“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.”
“Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies for all employees who cannot work remotely until campuses are shut down.”
“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.”
“Expand access to the shared sick leave pool to non-regular hourly employees whom the COVID-19 pandemic affects”
“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.”
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>