The resident assistants at University of Michigan have joined protests over the school’s coronavirus regulations, announcing earlier this week that they would be striking.
More than 100 residential advisers voted to strike in demand of increased coronavirus protections, hazard pay and additional communication about coronavirus statistics at the school, according to reporting by The Michigan Daily, the student newspaper for the University of Michigan. The strike began Wednesday morning and mostly impacts mailroom operations and lock-out services. Participating resident assistants will also not perform duty shifts, although they will informally enforce COVID-19 safety regulations.
“This was not an easy or hastily-made decision. We recognize the impact that a ResStaff strike will have on our residents, and it was our biggest reason for not striking during move-in. However, we have reached a breaking point,” the residential advisers said in a press release. “…We have tried the official methods that we have access to, but it is clear that Housing is not engaging with us in good faith and has given us all that they are willing to give. It is only by leveraging our power and our unity that we can make the dorms and this campus a safer place for students and staff.”
The group cited several instances in which the school did not enforce coronavirus regulations or promises, including move-in day, a failure to update tracking for coronavirus cases on campus and guest policies in the dorms.
“With returning came issues we expected to see, and even more that we could never have imagined the University would allow to happen. We will not be patronized and pushed around by the University of Michigan anymore,” the group said. “We are the students they promised to keep safe. We are putting our lives on the line for a University that shows us every day how little it cares for us, and we will stand for it no longer.”
University of Michigan employs around 240 resident advisers, according to The Michigan Daily. Of the 140 total votes, more than 100 supported the strike.
The resident advisers’ strike follows a similar strike by the University of Michigan Graduate Employee Organization, which began a strike earlier this week on similar grounds.
University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said the GEO’s strike is illegal under state law and under the union contract, according to ClickonDetroit.
“The university is preparing to continue operations, including classes, in the event of a strike,” he said.
The university made an offer to the striking graduate students, but was turned down, according to MLive.
“GEO members will continue to withhold labor over these demands and encourage our allies to join us on socially distanced in-person and remote picket lines,” the organization said in a release. “GEO stands in solidarity with U-M’s Resident Advisors who have just declared a work stoppage over COVID-19 safety concerns in their working conditions.”
University dining hall workers are also set to hold a walkout on Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to reporting by The Michigan Daily. They are also asking for widespread COVID-19 testing. Organizers are students and are not part of an official union.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter at The Michigan Star and Star News Digital Media. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]
Photo “ Mosher-Jordan Halls” by Michael Barera. CC BY-SA 4.0.