UNC System workers rally against COVID-19 concerns


Lauren Wessell

UNCW Clocktower.

Veronica Wernicke, News Editor

Members of the NC Public Service Workers Union, UE Local 150 at UNC Charlotte (UNCC), UNC Chapel Hill (UNC CH) and NC State University (NCSU) are rallying to demand more safety measures and action from the UNC System against coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns.

On Sept. 3 UNCC workers delivered a petition to the Chancellor Dr. Sharon L. Gaber office. The petition expressed concerns about the lack of safety measures taken by the university in regard to COVID-19. 

Some of the items they requested were “free & adequate protective equipment, daily COVID-19 virus symptom screening, no 3:00am shift start times and hazard premium pay of at least 25%.” 

In addition, UNC CH hosted a rally outside of Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz’s office and NCSU held a rally outside of the university’s Student Health Center. 

UE 150 also noted that all of these events were outdoors, socially distanced and required masks. 

Despite some universities like UNC-CH, NCSU, ECU and UNCC moving to remote learning, UE 150 workers still feel like the UNC System has not listened to them regarding safety concerns. 

“As UE 150 undertakes our class action lawsuit against the UNC System over workplace safety, our campus workers are calling for weekly actions in solidarity with their fight for a safe workplace and job security,” as stated in a press release from UE150, NC Public Service Workers Union. “Despite the clear messages we’ve sent for months, UNC System administrators have not listened and continue to refuse to acknowledge any of our demands–to keep us safe, keep our jobs and income safe, and provide a seat at the table for UE150 leaders… 

As a result, they, and the entire campus community are left to deal with the consequences of their incompetent “leadership”, which lacks preparation and the humility to acknowledge and take responsibility for their failures. What we have learned from the past several months is that front-line essential workers know what is needed on the ground to run the university safely, and therefore the administration should listen to and incorporate their ideas into future COVID-19 plans as the pandemic rages on.”

In their press release, UE 150 works wrote that despite some of their universities switching to remote instruction, their fight is not over and there is still much work to be done before they feel satisfied. 

“Many workers are still expected to come to campus, including being exposed to students and co-workers who must also be on campus. Workers have not had their demands for safety met and now fear for their job security. There are still widespread problems across the UNC System, including outbreaks now at NCSU, ECU, App State, and probably elsewhere (we know positive case numbers are underreported),” as stated in the press release.