GEO Demands Worker Safety in Extreme Cold
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: GEO DEMANDS WORKER SAFETY IN EXTREME COLD
Urbana-Champaign (January 29, 2019): The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO, IFT/AFT Local 6300) calls for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to protect the health and well-being of its employees and students by providing adequate accommodations to those working in ‘essential’ positions and refusing to penalize workers’ vacation and personal time off for being unable to commute or attend work. Although classes have already been canceled, many graduate employees are still expected to come to campus–in potentially life-threatening temperatures–to work in labs, libraries, and other workplaces. These hazards represent a significant challenge to our members, who must choose between coming to work in dangerous cold or face potential discipline for not showing up. The GEO will support grievances against supervisors that do not accommodate their employees for being unable to work in such extreme, life-threatening work conditions. GEO Co-President Bruce Kovanen said, “We will fight for every graduate employee who chooses to stay home in this unprecedented cold. We have heard from our members, and we will stand up for their right to stay home in hazardous conditions. It is unconscionable that the University administration would cancel classes but still require other workers–not only graduate employees but also our comrades in unions across campus–to show up in conditions deemed too dangerous for students.”
Extreme weather conditions disproportionately affect low-income students, people with disabilities, and university employees who have to commute to campus. Consequently, the GEO will not stand by as the University fails to make appropriate accommodations for its workers in good faith.