The Workers Union at UNC, UE Local 150 stands in solidarity with the staff and students of UNC’s Art and Art History Department who are protesting the university’s inadequate and neglectful treatment of faculty, graduate workers, and students.
The Art Department has been hit especially hard in recent years by UNC’s increasingly neoliberal policies. Rather than prioritizing the health, safety, dignity, and well-being of students, faculty, and graduate workers, and campus workers, administrators have chosen to keep costs low. UNC’s administration has 1) repeatedly ignored departmental pleas to fix the Hanes Art Center roof (which has been leaking for 10 years) 2) failed to address Occupational Safety and Health Administration concerns in the Art Lab from 2015 that require immediate attention (including major air quality and temperature control concerns) and 3) failed to offer sufficient security measures in Art and Art History facilities.
The Workers Union at UNC applauds the Art Department’s list of demands, which calls for administrative action on the above concerns, as well as a living wage for full- and part-time UNC workers, including Art and Art History graduate workers, many of whom are only paid $6,000 a semester. Organizers also demand that the university hire more staff and tenured faculty, particularly given that the department has lost 13 faculty members (11 tenured) since 2011, while hiring only 6 (only 3 of which are tenure-track). These demands boldly challenge the nationwide trend toward university adjunctification, which replaces secure and well-compensated faculty positions with short-term, poorly-compensated adjunct labor.
As a union with a rich history of struggling for workers’ rights on UNC’s campus, the Workers Union at UNC fully supports the actions and demands of the Art and Art History Department’s rally and march on Monday, April 23rd. We call for the members of our union and the UNC community to join the Art and Art History department as they stage a Walk-Out at 1:30pm in front of Hanes Art Center, followed by a rally and a Walk-In to South building to deliver their demands to Chancellor Folt.