The Student Government Association passed a resolution Wednesday night calling for the university to pay hourly workers for the scheduled time they were unable to work for last week during Winter Storm Uri.
The Senate passed the resolution in emergency status, which allowed it to be both introduced and voted on in the same session. Multiple senators and students, as well as SGA President Michael Luecke, submitted the resolution. The Senate voted both unanimously to pass the bill and to attach every senator’s name to it to “solidify that [the senators] are all behind this” Grant Johnson, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences senator, said.
“I’m mad that our school’s misjudgment has created a situation where there even has to be an SGA resolution to compensate students,” political science and history senior Brett Davis said at the meeting.
Davis started a petition last week urging the university to pay hourly employees for wages lost during the historic winter storm. At the time of writing, it has almost 1,000 signatures, a number that continues to rise.
A message from the university system sent to all faculty and staff on Feb. 19 stated hourly employees would only be paid for time physically worked. Regardless of how much time workers were scheduled for, the university will not compensate them for it if it was not completed. Several hourly employees across campus were unable to work last week due to university closures and/or adverse weather conditions that prevented them from traveling to campus.
Both co-signing student Devon Skinner and College of Music Senator Sophia Vomvoris said during the meeting the university had already budgeted and set aside money for last week’s expected wage labor.
“The university doesn’t have any additional financial burden by [giving workers] that backpay,” Skinner said. “Because employees were not taking that time off, they have the right to be paid for the time that they would have worked [last week].”
Communication sent Feb. 22 through UNT Today asked student supervisors to offer opportunities for workers to make up lost hours over the upcoming weeks. The email stipulated that no students could work over 40 hours in one week nor work during class time. International students with work visas will not be able to make up hours due to the terms of their visas.
The SGA bill said the announcement of make-up hours violates university policy 05.025, which stipulates that student hourly workers cannot work more than 25 hours a week. The policy offers no exemption. How the university plans to address this policy was not mentioned in any of its communication.
“According to UNT policy, [hourly employees] can only work up to 25 hours without violating [the university’s] own policy,” Skinner said. “The amount of weeks that they would have to work to make up the difference from that one week that’s missed […] would be quite a number of weeks. And it wouldn’t make up for the significant impact that that one week without wages would have on UNT employees.”
Featured Image: The Administration Building sits covered in snow during on Feb. 14, 2021. Image by Zach Del Bello