As Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris brought renewed attention to the low wages of campus workers on July 8,, President Rudd finally released a gradual timeline announcing that he plans to raise minim

United Campus Workers supports candidates who stand for the working class and the common good by opposing privatization, supporting public education, and fighting for living wages.

"Coach Derek Dooley gets a buyout of millions of dollars.  UT administrators are promised a million dollars in bonuses.  Governor Haslam encourages a transition away from raises to help everyday working people keep up with the cost of living in his State of the State address.  And yet thousands of higher education workers across the state continue to make below, at, or just above the poverty line.  What's wrong with that picture?" asked Thomas Walker, UCW executive board member from Knoxville and clerical workers at the UT College of Social Work.  "It leaves you wondering if they have any idea what it's like for regular people struggling to get by."

Citing a lack of established, concrete metrics, fair and transparent procedures, lack of dues process, and a culture of cronyism that frequently rewards those who already make the most, UCW calls on the Governor, the legislature, and higher education administrators to distribute raise dollars fairly-  and that means equally and across-the-board.  Last year in the UT system, the top 100 merit raise earners brought home more than $1 million, with one person along receiving almost $28,000, while the bottom 100 merit raise earners brought home a total of about $10,600 combined.

"This nine cent, ten cent raise doesn't cut it; it isn't enough, with everything going up.  I want the same things that Governor Haslam and the administrators want.  I want to take care of my family just like they do, without having to work two jobs, " said Vivian Williams, University of Memphis custodian and UCW member.

While pleased that the Governor sees a need to continue to raise the low pay of the state's public servants, UCW is planning to advocate for policies that President Tom Anderson, of Facilities Services at UTK, describes as "the right thing to do.  If you divided the pot equally, everyone would get something significant, especially us who need it most.  Full time jobs should keep you out of poverty not in it, and until we can truthfully say that's the case we shouldn't even consider stuff like percentage raises and merit raises, which are demonstrated to disproportionately benefit the folks at the top while those of us at the bottom toil on with just a pittance."

For more information please contact:

Tom Anderson, UCW President-  865-934-7373, [email protected]

Thomas Walker, UCW member-  865-776-3094, [email protected]

SIGN UP HERE for UCW's Lobby Day Tuesday, March 11, 2014! And help spread the word on your campus.

On January 9 and 10 of this year, in the very first days of the new legislative session, Sen. Summerville introduced a series of seven bills to systematically end all efforts to undo the legacy of Jim Crow and segregation in our state’s educational institutions, and furthermore to get rid of all efforts to promote diversity, equality, inclusion, and to guard against bigotry, prejudice, and oppression in our schools, colleges, and universities.

In a signature bill, Senate Bill 46 or SB0046, he wants to outlaw having anyone on any campus who, “promotes diversity, equality, and inclusion,” who assures “implementation of…[and] monitoring of compliance with” two titles of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX protecting women, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.” SB0046 seeks to prohibit the existence of even a single person who addresses charges of “discrimination and violations of federal laws, state laws, and institutional policies.”

Sen. Summerville and any of his colleagues who support his efforts want to turn back the tide of justice and equality to before the Civil Rights Movement, and deny even the most basic protections to students and workers of color, women, people with disabilities, and anyone discriminated against because of their age–in short, anyone who isn’t just like him.

Moreover, as attacks on public services and the public sector ramp up, especially against our schools and universities, attacks on all of us who make the public sector work will, too. Sen. Summerville’s bills are part and parcel of this trend, making our workplaces most vulnerable to discrimination and prejudice, and denying us even the small measures of recourse that we had already.

Well, to Sen. Summerville and his clique, we say: we want something different. United Campus Workers stands for a workplace where everyone is respected, has due process and rights, and which is free from discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice against anyone, and we’ve enshrined that in our Campus Worker Bill of Rights. We pledge to stand up for ourselves, our coworkers, the students and the public we serve–to stand up for one another–in the face of so much injustice.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said: "...I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

In the end what we want is a Tennessee for every Tennessean, not just the Good Ol’ Boys, and will oppose at every turn Sen. Summerville’s attempts or anyone else’s that stand in the way of democracy, equality, and justice.

-The United Campus Workers Executive Board

Join us for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events in Knoxville!


United Campus Workers will be marching with our banner in the Knoxville Parade. Line-up at 9:15am and Step-off at 10:00am from the Tabernacle Baptist Church, 2137 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. Join us!

United Campus Workers Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Banquet
6:00pm, UCW union hall (UNITE HERE), 1124 N. Broadway, Knoxville
Co-sponsored by Jobs with Justice of East Tennessee
RSVP here!

Dr. King’s powerful message of economic, racial, and social justice is an important inspiration for the work we’re doing in our union everyday—for workers’ rights, for justice on our campuses, and for our many communities. Come celebrate his call for a society for the many instead of the few, and start your year off right!

Keynote speaker:
Brooks Sunkett, Vice President of the Communications Workers of America's Public, Health Care, and Education Workers Sector

Main dish provided
Potluck sides & desserts
Door prizes
Childcare provided
Disability access

The overall theme from the Knoxville MLK Commission this year is "Intelligence Plus Character." See a full schedule of all events beginning 1/16 and other information here.

Federal budget matters show up as state budget matters because of the huge amount of “pass-through” dollars from the federal to state level. Some of this funding goes to assist students with their college expenses. As state government support for higher education has steadily declined, tuition has skyrocketed. Since the 1980s, state appropriations in TN went from an estimated 70 percent to just 34 percent. Since 1990, average tuition increases at the state’s two-year colleges have increased 317 percent.


The Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) is slated to lose $186 million in funding, which includes the Federal TRIO programs, serving first generation, disabled, and low income students through outreach and student services. While Pell Grant funds are exempted from sequestration for FY2013, the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) is slated to lose $140 million, which includes funding for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG). Pellissippi State would have 8.2% of this funding cut this year, another 8.2% cut in work study funding, and programs funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities would also see cuts.


What does this mean for Pellissippi students?


Delonda Anderson is a “non-traditional” student who enrolled at Pellissippi State at a later age. After a divorce, she had trouble finding work with better hours than those washing dishes in a café. Currently a sophomore, she made the commitment to enroll full-time in order to concentrate only on school. Delonda believes higher education paves the way to better career options, enabling her to be a happier person, wife, and mother. Because she receives various forms of financial aid, if funding were cut, she would not be able to finish her schooling without taking out loans. From a mountain community in East Tennessee, she feels, “people don’t have any opportunity, especially in Appalachia. Congress doesn’t understand that when they cut programs, these are people you are investing in for the future of the country, people who contribute to the community.”


“Education is valuable in that it’s power,” said Mrs. Anderson. “If you take away the options people have to gain power, then it’s not a good society.”




Members of UCW met with the Governor's staff on Friday, November 30 and emphasized the need for living wages and fair raises for everyone to be included in this upcoming budget.  Click HERE to send a message to the Governor on this important issue!  It only takes a couple of minutes to let your voice be heard!

UCW has also launched a postcard campaign that is being sent to Governor Haslam.  Email [email protected] if you would like some for yourself and your coworkers to send!

Again, please take a minute to send a message to Governor Haslam about the need for living wages and fair raises.  Click HERE to send a message to the Governor!