UFAS Steering Committee Calls for a Moral Way Forward

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We are the elected leaders of United Faculty and Academic Staff (UFAS, AFT #223). As a union that represents faculty and academic staff, ensuring safe campus spaces for workers and students alike is at the core of our mission. We are appalled that in complete disregard of the growing concerns rippling throughout Madison and Dane County, Chancellor Blank and her administration continue to put our students, our communities, and us, the workers who make the university run, at risk.

 

It did not have to be this way.

 

This summer, the Teaching Assistants Association and UFAS surveyed workers across campus, talked to members and non-members, and relayed our collective concerns about the administration's fall plans. We made repeated requests to meet with administrators. We joined in solidarity with other campus unions to articulate specific demands that would ensure the health of the students and communities we serve and protect the livelihoods of the most vulnerable campus workers. The Associated Students of Madison and the BIPOC Student Coalition took up our call for a Moral Restart. Local elected officials have called on university leadership to re-evaluate their plans.

 

Chancellor Blank and her administration ignored all of us. If they had listened, Madison might not be in the top ten list of U.S. cities where new COVID-19 cases are increasing the fastest. Students might not be forced to quarantine on hours’ notice in their dorms. Courses might not have to suddenly move online. Our campus health system might not be bursting at the seams. 

 

We reiterate the University Labor Council’s demands for a Moral Restart. The University of WisconsinMadison must:

  • Keep all courses online until Public Health Madison Dane County reports zero new cases for fourteen (14) consecutive days.
  • Provide employment and payment continuity for all workers—hourly, part-time, and salaried—during the pandemic.
  • Reinstate the $15 per hour promised wage for hourly workers and extend it to student workers.
  • Meet and confer with campus labor unions.

 

We further demand that UW-Madison:

  • Publicly release the metrics by which administration has made and is making decisions to resume in-person activities.
  • Commit to an external independent audit of the development and implementation of the “Smart Restart.”
  • Reverse the decision to hold football games.
  • Reinstate employees who have been laid off in the Division of Continuing Studies.
  • Support workers whose usual work obligations have lessened, such as UW Study Abroad staff, to take on additional campus or community needs as part of their paid time.
  • Defund the campus police department and meet the demands of the BIPOC Student Coalition.

 

It’s not too late for Chancellor Blank and her administration to start listening and do what’s right.