ASU Workers Demand Remote Learning, Access To Vaccines

By Austin Fast
Published: Sunday, January 10, 2021 - 5:08pm

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Last week, Arizona State University announced professors who are teaching in person are next in line for COVID-19 vaccines. Campus workers are upset they’re not included and immediately requested all sorts of changes for the spring semester starting Monday. 

In a letter to the ASU community Friday morning, President Michael Crow thanked Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ for including the university's instructional staff who will be in the classroom this spring in Phase 1B, starting Monday with a 24/7 vaccination site at State Farm Stadium.

The United Campus Workers of Arizona Local 7065, a new staff union founded in December, and the ASU Community of Care Coalition responded Saturday with their own letter, requesting the university return immediately to remote learning. 

"We saw after Friday, in my own ASU library all-staff meeting, a number of employees really upset that the ASU administration had not pivoted to all-remote learning, which it's fully capable of doing in light of Arizona having the worst COVID infection rates in the nation and the world. I mean, come on!" said Jackie Young, a member of the union and curator of the Vault Gallery at the university's downtown library.

Arizona State prides itself on innovation and social justice campaigns, but Young said that shouldn't end in the classroom. 

"Let's start at home and be concerned about the lowest-paid members of our community — staff like myself and student workers, who I work with directly every day and see that they're putting their health, their family's health, and even their very lives on the line as they go to work every day," Young said.

Young complimented ASU for managing federal COVID-relief funds to prevent worker layoffs like other universities have seen, but she said there's still work to be done. Among other requests in the letter, its authors are asking ASU to reinstate spring break and to take a more transparent approach to what Young called a top-down decision-making process.

"The administration's pandemic response is a symptom of a longer-standing problem with precarious working conditions and a lack of democratic decision making at ASU," Young said. 

ASU representatives did not respond immediately to KJZZ's request for comment.

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