UWL workers call for $15 hazard pay, better ppe

Workers at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse (UWL) are demanding the university provide better Personal Protective Equipment and hazard pay of at least $15 an hour for student staff performing tasks that involve close contact with other people.

The calls come as thousands of students are returning to campus in the midst of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The group of workers on Tuesday started a petition, which can be viewed here, detailing their demands for better working conditions at UWL.

“UWL has done nothing to protect their Resident Assistants, Housekeepers, and Assistant Hall Director and Hall Director. With limited protection measures in place, UWL is also putting the La Crosse community at a higher risk,” a statement attached to the petition said.

The demands from the group of UWL workers in full are:

1: All Residence Life Staff (Professional, Office, Student Staff, Assistant Hall Directors, Hall Directors, Housekeepers, and Assistant Housekeepers) will receive better quality personal protective equipment.

2: Implement routine schedules to ensure clean, empty, and safe public spaces. Our home is our workspace and classroom now. We should be protected at all costs because our lives are not expendable. 

3:  Student staff are guaranteed job security and contract benefits: including stipends, housing, and meals for the length of our contracts during and after negotiations as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

4: Student staff will receive hazard pay of at least $15 an hour for in-person related tasks (e.g. duty rounds, working the front desk, etc.). Otherwise, our work remains 100% virtual assistance to residents of the hall. 

5: There will be direct and transparent communication from administration to student staff members so we can clearly work through and agree to new changes within our contract for our positions without the fear of losing our jobs.

6: The Quarantine Position will be fulfilled by a medical professional instead of a Hall Director, Assistant Hall Director, Student Staff member, or residents in our halls as we are not trained for this position nor are we protected by UWL Residence Life liability. 

7: UWL Residence Life will fund and mandate weekly rapid response COVID-19 testing. 

8: The Office of Residence Life will support the efforts of UWL Residence Life Student Staff Member Coalition and grant them voting power in administrative decisions as a continual effort to receive feedback from their lifeline workers.

Check back to The La Crosse Independent for more on this story. Email questions or tips to lacrosseindependent@gmail.com. Top image: UWL campus/CC BY-SA 3.0

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