News

United Campus Workers (UCW), Tennessee's higher education union of staff and faculty, welcomes news of the budget passed by the General Assembly late Saturday night. The budget includes $45 million in higher education capital improvement and delayed maintenance funding and a 1.6% pay raise, the first salary adjustment for the vast majority of higher-education employees in four years. Additionally the inclusion of $3 million in state money to draw $60 million in federal extended unemployment benefits is much needed for Tennessee working families struggling with job loss during this recession. Read rundown of budget from AP here.

UCW President Tom Anderson said, "After four years with no raise, anything is an improvement, but for many hard-working employees in higher ed 1.6% is barely $10 a paycheck. UT and TBR can do far better by adding to that pool and by distributing it as a fair, flat dollar-increase. That way everyone gets the same money and the people who have been harder hit by the recession get the help they need."

UCW will continue to press UT and TBR administrations to allocate the new funding as an equal-dollar raise rather than a percentage, or at the very least to set a minimum "floor" for the raise. According to UCW Knoxville Chapter Vice President Janet Miles, distributing the raise equally across all employees rather than as a percentage will have at least two positive effects: it will do more to raise lower-paid employees up to a living wage, and it will have greater economic benefit to local communities as workers spend the money locally for housing, rent, and other necessary purchases.

Union spokespersons say that they will continue to educate and build support for other priorities among legislators before the beginning of the next session. Some of these campaigns, Miles said, include more due process rights for higher-education employees. "State employees have a specific and consistent policy and process for addressing workplace grievances," she said. "Higher-education employees have nothing like that. The University of Tennessee has a very vague policy, with two different, overlapping processes, and no specific procedures. TBR schools do have a grievance policy, but it is very limited. We would also like to see the University of Tennessee follow TBR's current policy regarding layoffs: Chancellor Morgan has affirmed a policy statement issued last year that TBR will give affected employees 90 days' notice of layoffs. Further, we would like to see laid-off employees offered recall rights as the economy improves and positions are restored."

UCW Chapter Vice President for MTSU Rick Kurtz said that he is pleased to hear about the funding for maintenance and capital improvements. "Issues of funding remain key. There are a number of building projects at the top of the building commission's list, including the MTSU Science Building. These are more than much needed capital improvements; these projects mean real job creation in many communities across Tennessee. We will be discussing with local building trades, area legislators, and the Governor's office the importance of finalizing bond issues to fund these projects.

UCW-Communications Workers of America Local 3865 is Tennessee's higher-education union, made up of and run by nearly 1500 higher-education staff and faculty at our state's public universities and community colleges.
 

On Monday, March 14 Gov. Haslam will deliver his first State of the State Address. Join us on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 as we lay out a message of our own. From Madison, WI, to Columbus, OH, to Nashville, TN working people are standing up for our rights and demanding that government respect our right to organize and deliver on our needs not bend to corporate greed.

Where/When: 12:00 noon at Legislative Plaza

Sign up to attend, get on buses and join carpools from across Tennessee. Help us spread the word on Facebook.

Logistics for Knoxville-  meet at the UNITE building at 6:15 am Tuesday morning; bus leaves at 6:30 sharp.  Call Cameron at 865-387-4408 for more information.

For more infomation, including logistics of parking, drop off locations, etc. contact the Tennessee AFL-CIO at 615-269-7111.

Sponsoring Organizations:

Tennessee State AFL-CIO, United Campus Workers - CWA Local 3865, Workers Interfaith Network (WIN), Jobs with Justice of East Tennessee, CWA District 3, University of Memphis Progressive Student Alliance, Middle Tennessee Jobs with Justice, AFSCME Local 1733, Chattanooga Organized for Action, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, Knoxville-Oak Ridge Area Central Labor Council, Tennessee Citizen Action, Midsouth Peace and Justice Center, SEIU Local 205, Tennessee Professional Firefighters Association.

This list is a work in progress; contact us to add your organization.

This list is a work in progress.

After the speak-out events UCW members held across the state, we took the stories of what this economy is doing to our families and our paychecks to meetings with Tennessee legislators.  This bill is the result of your hard work.

But as we know, it will take much more to see this bill become law.  To win it takes power, and as average folks our strength is power in numbers.  Make plans to join us in Nashville on March 15th!  On that date higher education employees from across Tennessee will meet in Nashville to rally for "Raises, Healthcare, and Good Jobs!"   Transportation is being coordinated from your respective part of the state;  email us to get information on plans for your location!

Another important way you can advance our cause is to volunteer for important work we have planned in your area of the state.  Click HERE to get involved!

We cannot afford to wait another 4 years for "the right time" to demand dignity, fair pay, and respect.  Now is the right time!

As we start another year the economic crisis kicked off by the Wall Street bankers continues.

On November 2 Tennessee voters elected a new governor and a new General Assembly.

As candidates many of these newly elected officials bragged about their unique abilities to fix this economic crisis. That is why they must hear from you about how the economic crisis is hurting your family and quality of life. Our already thin paychecks are shrinking by the day as health care costs skyrocket and the effects of 4 years without a pay raise take their toll.

With price increases for gas, food, housing, and this month's insurance premium hike, the only thing that isn't going up is our pay checks.

UT President Joe Diepietro and TBR Chancellor John Morgan recently have both publicly stated the need for salary increases for staff and faculty. You should pat yourself on the back, because of your union membership and the work you've help push forward for UCW’s 2011 campaign these pressing issues are be discussed by top higher education officials.

For some, the Tennessee economy is slowly improving.  In fact, for the first quarter of this fiscal year sales tax collections outpaced projections by $46 million, the highest since 2007! For the current fiscal year Tennessee is $78 million above projections.

As these trends continue, we cannot allow the state legislature to use the excuse of a "bad economy" to keep hard-working higher education employees down.  There will be no "economic recovery" until working class Tennesseans see improvements in our pocketbooks. We need an equal dollar pay raise for all Tennessee higher education workers and no more job losses.

Now more than ever higher education staff and faculty need to speak out and pressure elected officials to remedy this crisis! The time for listening to politicians’ talk is over. They either need to deliver or go home.

UCW-CWA is planning our largest citizen lobbying efforts ever, and YOU need to be a part of it!

On Tuesday, March 15th higher education employees from across Tennessee will meet in Nashville to rally for Raises, Healthcare, and Good Jobs! Please join us on this important day!

Rally for Raises, Health Care, and Good Jobs!
 2011 UCW-CWA Lobby Day
Tuesday, March 15th Nashville
RSVP at http://ucw-cwa.org/2011-Get-Involved!
Or call 1-877-292-3865

We need members to come to Nashville and press our demands for pay raises and job protection!  Transportation is being coordinated from your respective part of the state- just contact us to get information on your locale!  

We cannot afford to wait another 4 years for “the right time” to demand dignity, fair pay and respect.  Now is the right time!

President Essex's memo announcing plans to implement another round of RIFs (Reductions in Force) during the spring semester is very concerning. UCW-CWA has already begun fighting these layoffs. Below you can read the formal Open Records Request our union sent to Southwest administrators on November 29, 2010 and their response. As we receive documents uncovered by this request we will post them to the website.

State tax collections have exceeded expectations by over $60 million since July 1, 2010. Likewise last week the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Tennessee is one of 6 states accused of bending the rules by cutting higher education budgets too deeply while taking millions in State Maintenance of Effort funding. In both cases these funds could easily prevent any budget cuts to Southwest, offset the increased health insurance costs we face and provide a significant equal-dollar pay raise to all higher education employees. Likewise recent announcements of state funding for new building projects so that we do not face questions of resources, we face questions of priorities.

UCW-CWA has a proven track record of fighting layoffs in higher education. Starting in December 2008 UTHSC employees organized to prevent 200 layoffs. Using the power of our union these workers took the fight to local and state media, organized vigils and rallies and partnered with pro-worker legislators. The fight lasted nearly 2 years, and in August 2010 when the RIFs finally took place the efforts of UTHSC union members saved nearly 170of these jobs. Additionally, this struggle won an official memo from former TBR Chancellor Charles Manning instructing TBR system presidents that workers affected by RIFs are entitled to 90 days written notice prior to termination. You can read Chancellor Manning's memo here.

This is why union membership is so important. These issues are larger than any single campus or even SWTCC itself. To be effective Southwest staff and faculty must build a voice that advocates for our interests on campus and at the State Legislature in Nashville. UCW-CWA is that voice.

Join us!


Update for February 4, 2011-  Essex announces up to 200 layoffs- Click HERE to read the memo.

 

In 2011 meetings will be announced that are open to all ETSU employees.  For more information, email [email protected] or call 1-877-292-3865.