TAA-UFAS Worker Safety Survey Summary

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What does the survey tell us?

Simply put, UW-Madison workers are uncomfortable with the administration’s plan to bring students back to campus:

86.4% of all respondents across campus reported feeling either extremely uncomfortable or uncomfortable.

More than half of respondents (54%) rely on taking the bus to work. Bus riders are least comfortable with returning to campus (63% of bus riders are extremely uncomfortable with the administration’s reopening plans, compared to 53% of all respondents). Graduate student workers are among the least comfortable with returning (90% are extremely uncomfortable or uncomfortable with reopening).

Respondents who say personal protective equipment (PPE) is being provided for their campus work are more comfortable; only 29% of them feel extremely uncomfortable returning to campus. However, this represents only 9% of all respondents. 34% of respondents don’t know about PPE availability, 15% say PPE is not provided, 34% say the question isn’t applicable to them yet, and 3.8% say the PPE provided is not adequate.

Respondents’ top specific health and safety concerns include:

  • Students - concerns for their health, and about their willingness to follow safety restrictions;
  • Prevention measures - concerns UW administration’s plans are inadequate or unworkable;
  • Campus working and living conditions - concerns that physical proximity to others, poor building ventilation, and other aspects of the return to campus will increase COVID-19 transmission;
  • The impact on the wider community - concerns that the administration’s plans will lead to increased community spread and outbreaks beyond campus; and
  • The impact on individuals - concerns that respondents will be exposed or spread COVID-19 themselves, and that vulnerable populations will suffer severe consequences.

When asked what would make them feel safe returning to campus, 26% of all respondents indicated a COVID-19 vaccine. Other common responses included moving all classes online, restricting the number of people on campus, maintaining lower levels of infection overall, or nothing.


Who filled out the survey?

Over 400 UW-Madison workers took this survey between June 30 and July 15. Most respondents were graduate workers (188, or 47% of respondents) or academic staff (146, or 37%). The remainder were university staff (18, or 5%), faculty (36, or 9%), or postdoctoral fellows or transitioning between positions. Respondents represent 63 different schools, departments and divisions across the entire UW-Madison campus.


Who conducted the survey?

United Faculty and Academic Staff (UFAS, AFT Local 223) and the Teaching Assistants Association (TAA, AFT Local 3220) collaborated on the survey and distributed it among our memberships. Respondents were also encouraged to share the survey with colleagues, as were other campus unions.


Why did we conduct the survey?

Campus unions provided collaborative leadership to hear from workers across campus about reopening plans, because university administration has ignored our voices in their planning.

We know the administration’s plan is dangerous, inequitable, and driven by the need for tuition dollars - not the need to do what’s best for UW students and workers, let alone the broader community. This survey helps us better understand what workers are most concerned about in the rush to return to campus.


Survey link: https://forms.gle/Bw5iyhX5rZ8M5Pvw6

Posted July 27, 2020