IFT president, higher ed union leader demand Illinois include higher education workers in Phase 1B for COVID vaccine
WESTMONT, IL – IFT President Dan Montgomery and University Professionals of Illinois President John Miller today spoke out on behalf of the faculty and staff in Illinois’ colleges and universities who have been wrongfully excluded from Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan.
“The science tells us that a key component of reopening schools and academic institutions safely is vaccinating the essential workers in those facilities,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “By excluding the educators and staff who work in face-to-face environments in our colleges and universities, Illinois is endangering the safety of students and communities. These essential workers – just like teachers and staff in our K-12 schools – should absolutely be included in Phase 1B for the COVID-19 vaccine.”
University Professionals of Illinois (UPI Local 4100) President John Miller agreed. “Illinois has thousands of higher education employees who are working face-to-face with students during the pandemic, including many educators, advisors, clerical staff, food service workers, security personnel, graduate workers, and others,” Miller said. “With a high likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks at colleges and universities, along with reported community spread associated with these outbreaks, prioritizing higher education faculty and staff for the vaccine is necessary for our students’ futures and our communities’ well-being. “Nearly half of U.S. states are already aligned with CDC recommendations to prioritize the vaccine for higher education faculty and staff. We urge Governor Pritkzer and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike to immediately follow suit,” Miller added.
There is strong support for the union’s position. A petition recently circulated by the IFT has already gathered more than 3,200 signatures.
“We certainly agree with the Governor and IDPH that K-12 educators and staff should be included in Phase 1B, and we encourage those individuals to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Montgomery. “However, we strongly believe that all those who work directly with students and others in a higher education environment should receive the same high priority. Only then can we ensure the greatest level of safety, not just for the educators and staff, but for Illinois students and our communities.”
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The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.