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Norovirus hits dorms, U of MN policy punishes workers who call in sick

By staff |
April 8, 2016
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Minneapolis, MN - University of Minnesota officials are investigating a suspected outbreak of the norovirus in Minneapolis campus residential halls, according to workers there. Boynton Heath Services, the medical provider for students at the University of Minnesota, provided a notice to students yesterday that warned of “reports of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, in students at Frontier Hall,” a dormitory on campus.

Dining service workers at the University of Minnesota have long warned that an outbreak of this sort was likely to happen. Workers at the University of Minnesota earn sick leave, but are disciplined when they use it. The result is that dining service workers often report to work while sick rather than risk losing their jobs. As workers have warned, this puts both staff and students at risk of getting sick.

Workers, who are members of Teamster Local 320, have waged a campaign against the University of Minnesota’s policy of disciplining workers for using their sick time. Workers have been filing grievances, leafleting and speaking out against it at rallies. Workers report that despite these efforts and despite being repeatedly told that workers were coming to the job sick, the University of Minnesota continues to follow a policy of firing those who call in sick.

The University of Minnesota’s policy of disciplining workers who use their sick leave applies to most workers who do manual labor. Office workers and other professional staff are largely exempt. In U of M dining services, which is managed by Aramark, a private corporation that is attempting to squeeze our as much profit as possible, U of M employees are treated particularly harshly. Dozens of dining services workers are disciplined every school year for using their sick leave.