Protestors voice concerns about MU COVID-19 policies before first home game

A group of labor union workers, graduate students and activists in the Columbia community call themselves the Show-Me Justice Coalition and ask for MU to put "people over profit."

At noon on Saturday, hours before MU’s first home football game, a group of about 10 protesters met outside Faurot Field to showcase their concerns about MU’s COVID-19 policies.

The group calls themselves The Show-Me Justice Coalition and consists of graduate student workers, activists and members from Laborers Local 955, a labor union in Columbia, Mo.

Carl Baysinger is the president of Laborers Local 955. They represent all the university workers in food service, maintenance and custodial.

Currently, labor workers feel like MU is not addressing their concerns. Baysinger said they are demanding rapid COVID-19 tests to help prevent employees being out of work for long periods of time.

“If you have a cough, they will send you home,” Baysinger said. “They take away your vacation, take away your sick days if you have any type of symptom … People have gotten sent home without pay. We don’t want that.”

Baysinger said that workers in MU facilities who are sent home for having COVID-19 symptoms will be written up the fifth time it occurs and will be terminated on the sixth occurrence.

Laborers Local 955 also protested in support of the Coalition of Graduate Workers’ demand for a pivot to virtual classes. CGW is a worker union group of MU graduate employees.

Andrew Amidei, a graduate instructor in the MU English department, is a member of CGW. He said he attended the protest on Saturday because of concerns he has heard from other graduate workers.

“Personally, my classes are already online, so I’m not out here for myself,” Amidei said. “I know that a lot of people are being forced to teach in conditions that they don’t think are safe and feel like they are being forced to do something they don't want to.”

Amidei also said that workers don’t feel they can safely voice their displeasure without fear of retaliation.

The Show Me Justice Coalition demands that MU pivot to online classes while allowing students to remain on campus; provide free, on-demand COVID-19 testing; remove policies that take away worker sick leave or other benefits for COVID-19-related absences and to commit to not cutting any staff under the appearance of COVID-19 precautions.

“We’re out here trying to protect both the health and livelihoods of the people that make Mizzou work and function,” Amidei said.

Edited by Joy Mazur | jmazur@themaneater.com

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