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UT campus workers call for more COVID-19 safety measures

The United Campus Workers and the American Association of University Professors called for UT administrators to implement safety measures against COVID-19 on Tuesday

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A group of workers at the University of Tennessee, along with a national advocacy organization for university professors, called for administrators to implement safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The United Campus Workers at UT and the American Association of University professors met for an event on Tuesday, where they called for five specific policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus:

  1. A campus-wide mask mandate for all indoor facilities;
  2. The ability to teach remotely at the discretion of the instructor and for staff to work remotely wherever possible;
  3. N95 masks and PCR COVID-19 tests for members of the campus community;
  4. Hazard pay for essential workers;
  5. Social distancing and mask campaigns

Organizers said they called for the changes due to rising COVID-19 cases across Knoxville, and across the state. Without those safety measures, they said the campus was unsafe to work in.

The event was also meant to draw attention to a petition signed by 850 people calling for continued mask mandates, social distancing and hazard pay for essential workers. Workers also had the chance to speak about their experiences on campuses during the event.

"We're very adamant that we are not doing enough here on campus to ensure the safety of our community," said Anne Langendorfer, the president of United Campus Workers. "

Organizers called for administrators to reach out to Governor Bill Lee to use federal relief money to help fund the safety measures.

"My students and colleagues who work in the ER around the county are facing a reality that too many people are coming to their doors, and they are not able to provide the care that they need during the COVID Delta surge," said Langendorger.  "We want to protect not just each other and our coworkers, but we also want to protect our students and community. And that means working together to prevent spread on campus."

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