UCW Members are invited to join "Labor & Black Struggle in the South," an urgent conversation about the role of Labor and the transformational possibilities of buildin

New report from United Campus Workers revealing low pay, lack of health insurance, particularly troubling in light of the COVID-19 crisis

 Johnson City, Tenn.

Monday, July 9,

Days after the University of Tennessee system’s Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents raised tuition and fees for their respective campuses, and following Governor Bill Haslam’s announcement of a conference on the future of higher education to be held this Tuesday, United Campus Workers-Communications Workers of America local 3865 has issued a call to Haslam to include staff, faculty, and students from the campuses in the dialogue. While invitees include politicians and even representatives of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, the Governor’s office left out invitations to those people who are at the heart of the state’s higher education system: its faculty, staff, and students.

“We’re confused and disheartened by the Governor’s choice to privilege business interests over the interests of the people who are most directly involved in the higher education system,” said Tom Anderson, President of UCW-CWA and staff at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. “We want to be at the table because we think we’re in the best position to see what’s working—and maybe more importantly what isn’t working. Any solution is going toinvolve all of us, so why aren’t all of us being asked to participate in this conversation?”

UCW-CWA represents some 1,300 staff, faculty, instructional staff, student and part-time workers statewide on nearly a dozen campuses.

“This doesn’t just need to be a closed-door conversation of the 1% and politicians about what they want the higher education system to be. All stakeholders need to be at the table, especially the people who work, teach, and study at the schools,” said Anderson.

Viewing higher education as a crucial part of Tennessee’s economy and its democracy, UCW-CWA has issued a letter to the Governor’s office urging Haslam to include workers’ and students’ voices in any discussion about the future of the state’s higher education systems.

“If you want to know what’s going on, you need to ask the people who are there everyday, living and breathing it. We need representation at these meetings. These are public institutions, paid for with public dollars and tuition money, and their future is part of our future as a state. We all need to be at the table, not just the Big Wigs,” said University of Memphis custodian and UCW member Thelma-Jean Rimmer.

“What we as faculty fear is a centralized governance that standardizes curriculum across the state, thus eliminating a faculty's most vital role: designing curriculum to meet the needs of the students in front of them,” said Keith Norris, Associate Professor and 25-year faculty member at Pellissippi State Community College. “This type of closed-door meeting sends the wrong message and raises fears of the potential further corporatization of higher education.”

UCW’s letter was sent on Friday, July 6, 2012, and offers to provide representatives of staff, faculty, and student interests at the meeting planned for Tuesday.

“We hope the Governor listens and makes a fair and democratic choice,” said Anderson.

Make your plans to attend our union’s annual convention in Nashville on Saturday, September 8, 2012. Spread the word and carpool with others on your campus.

The statewide convention is a great experience, with educational sessions ranging on topics from your rights at work to how the state legislature works. Is there a burning topic that would speak to you and others on your campus and potentially around the state? Send it to us today at [email protected].

Read about last year's convention and see some photos here.

Local President Tom Anderson, along with union leaders from Pellissippi State and MTSU and UCW staff met with the Governor’s staff on Thursday, May 17 in Nashville.

The meeting was positively received, as members discussed issues central to our program including higher education funding, the need for flat-dollar pay raises instead of narrow percentage-based raises, recognition, and the impacts of the Complete College Tennessee Act.

We shared copies of the Campus Workers Bill of Rights, and left the meeting with our intention to continue building this relationship.

Additionally, campus workers at Pellissippi State and ETSU have met with their institution heads, while UT Knoxville and Tennessee Tech members are gearing up their plans to do the same, again as an opportunity to discuss our core issues and build a relationship. If you would like to take part in these meetings, contact your Chapter/Caucus VP/Chair, your Organizer, and/or attend the next campus meeting. Check out your Chapter/Caucus's page on our website for meeting information.

Temporary and adjunct contracts are forcing many of our best teaching professionals to work in increasingly exploitative conditions. In the face of these conditions, UCW’s Contingent & Adjunct Caucus has been busy organizing a campaign to win justice on campuses across the state. The caucus has just launched a survey to collect data about Tennessee adjunct and contingent working conditions. If you are an adjunct or contingent faculty member, please fill out the survey! If not, please pass it along to colleagues who are.

Access the survey here, complete it and pass it along to colleagues if you haven't already. Post a flyer about it in your building! Let's collect as much data as we can! And be sure to check out our blog on these issues, Higher-Ed Hand Tennessee.

After months of lobbying legislators, making phone calls, sending emails, and organizing public events from the Capitol Steps to campuses across the state, we now know that the new state budget includes a 2.5% raise for all higher education workers. We know that UT workers will again receive a minimum of at least $1,000. These are positive steps forward that have only happened through our work to win fair pay for all campus workers. But pushes for flat dollar raises, living wages and equal pay for equal work in higher education are ramping up.

We need your involvement in these efforts. Visit the union’s webpage and contact us today at [email protected] to find out how you can help! And spread the word on social media here!

Percentage raises are unfair because they disproportionately benefit the people who already make the most. While the President would receive nearly $10,500, many secretaries, custodians, and teaching staff would get as little as $1000. Over 30% of Tennesseans working full time make less than the poverty line. In a time of unprecedented income inequality, we shouldn't be using our community tax dollars to make the rich richer while the poor get poorer. What we need is a flat dollar raise.

Knoxville was rated the third worst city in the US for working women, with a 38% wage gap between women and men's incomes. A 2005 study found that UT women faculty made only 75% of their male peers' salary. We know that many of UT's lowest paid positions are worked primarily by women. Percentage raises will only worsen the gendered wage gap. Flat dollar raises will start to close it, helping everyone who doesn't make enough to get by, while also overcoming unequal pay to women for their work.


Contact President Joe DiPietro: Contact Chancellor John Morgan:
865-974-2251 615-366-4403
[email protected] [email protected]  
twitter @utpresidentjoe  



Last year, a minimum raise was provided by both systems, 2500 TBR workers who made less than $12.82 an hour received at least $750, and at UT, workers won increases in base pay to $8.50 and a flat minimum raise of $1000 for other employees, providing UT's lowest paid workers almost $2500 more a year.

These were important steps. It would be a shame for campus workers to see less than these minimum raises in 2012. With rising food and gas prices, and higher out-of-pocket insurance expenses, the cost of working for higher education is more than many UT and TBR workers can afford. All of us have the human right to earn at least a living wage.

United Campus Workers is urging all higher education employees to contact our system chiefs, and ask that they distribute this raise as an equal dollar amount. It is the decent thing to do.

Contact UT President DiPietro: HERE

Contact TBR Chancellor Morgan: HERE