We are educators in Columbia Public Schools and an affiliate of the 32,000-member Missouri National Education Association and the 3 million-member National Education Association.

Many of our students go on to study on the MU campus, and we interact on a daily basis with the faculty and staff within our highly regarded Columbia community.

Two of MU’s four core values are respect and responsibility, which is why it is shocking to see the little respect given to their own custodians.

If MU stands behind the value statements “we commit to acting ethically” and “we are accountable to ourselves, each other and the public we serve,” then it is unconscionable and unethical to label workers who risk injury and accident preserving MU’s infrastructure as “essential” one day only to privatize their jobs weeks later.

The women and men of Laborers’ Local 955 who keep the lights on, the sidewalks safe and the classrooms sterilized for students deserve better.

These workers are members of our community, and their children are in our classrooms. Their economic stability impacts Columbia, and we believe they deserve better for their long-standing commitment to MU. Privatization will demand these essential employees do more for less pay, less health care and less safety.

The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare so much of the economic inequity in our community.

MU should aim to preserve family-supporting, middle class jobs and consider how it could tackle more significant economic inequality issues.

Instead, it is choosing a moment of crisis to union bust.

The educators of Columbia Missouri National Education Association stand with the women and men of Local 955 and add our voice to their cause.

Please do not contract out their services, but instead, honor your commitment to preserve their compensation and working conditions.

From the Columbia Missouri National Education Association

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