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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.

Hey UCW members! Whatcha doing this summer? We've got lots of opportunities coming up to get involved and learn organizing, campaign, and political skills to build our movement.

The University of Memphis presidential search proceedings are well underway and continue to move quickly. The presidential candidates' visits to campus finished this morning. Now we have until 5:00 tomorrow, Wednesday March 26th, to fill out the online evaluation forms for the candidates:

http://www.memphis.edu/pressearch/

Guy Bailey Professor / Former President  University of Alabama    Sharon Gaber Provost / Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs University of Arkansas    George W. Hynd Provost / Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs College of Charleston    David Rudd Provost University of Memphis

The 24 member presidential search committee, which included only four faculty and 2 staff, announced on Friday March 14th four finalists from a field of over seventy. Beginning last week these finalists held public forums and interviews on campus. If you were unable to attend the candidate forums, video is available online: http://www.memphis.edu/pressearch/. Candidate evaluations submitted by 5:00 tomorrow will be received by Chancellor John Morgan, who will review them before he selects the next president of the University of Memphis.

We are also keenly aware of serious concerns many colleagues have raised about the inclusion of current Provost David Rudd on the list of finalists. Over the last nine months Dr. Rudd has led the university toward sharply decreasing the funding for some academic departments, especially in the liberal arts, and the implementation of RCM for campus budgeting. Most strikingly have been the significant layoffs across campus, an extreme departure from past campus practice even during the recession.

The other three candidates are Sharon Gaber of University of Arkansas, Guy Bailey of University of Alabama, and George Hynd of the College of Charleston. All have experience with large institutional budgets and extensive professional and instructional records with top universities. It is important for us to be engaged in this process because the future president will determine University policies that are going to significantly impact our job security, work environment, and the quality of services we are able to deliver to our students. Please take a moment to review the candidates, and let your voice be heard today or tomorrow before 5:00 p.m.

Not a member?

United Campus Workers is Tennessee’s higher education union; the only voice made up and run by staff and faculty at Tennessee’s colleges and universities. UCW members are active organizing for our interests on our campus and at the Tennessee General Assembly. JOIN US and help strengthen our movement! There is power in numbers, lift your voice today!

 

Over 350 Tennesseans, lead by United Campus Workers and other CWA members rallied on March 11 to tell Governor Haslam to PUT THE PEOPLE FIRST

Join the movement to Put the People First in Tennessee!

These Tennesseans called for living wage jobs, fully funded public education, and that Nashville respect our democratic rights to organize, protest, bargain, and vote freely. It was the start of a movement throughout Tennessee to Put the People First, and grassroots worker, community, faith, and student organizations have come together to form the coalition. At the Capitol, we rallied, then delivered a letter to Governor Bill Haslam, calling on him and the Tennessee General Assembly "to make the interests of Tennessee working people your top priority." See a video from The Tennessean here.

Don't miss Put the People First May First!

Tennessee politicians "have abandoned everyday people and pursued an agenda that favors huge corporations and the super wealthy," coalition members said in the letter. "Our coalition has come together because ours is a different vision of Tennessee - one where we have good jobs that pay us decently and provide benefits; where our kids have access to free, quality, equal public education that's directed by teachers, not corporate lobbyists; and where all of us can participate," we wrote.

What's next? This burgeoning and rapidly growing coalition is beginning to plan actions around the state to Put the People First on May First. Will you be there?

*The broad coalition sponsoring the rally included:
Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council, United Campus Workers-CWA Local 3865, UAW, Workers Interfaith Network, Jobs With Justice, Show Me 15 Workers Organizing Committee, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, Tennessee NAACP, Sierra Club, Tennessee Chapter, Memphis Progressive Student Alliance, Statewide Organizing For Community Empowerment, SEIU Local 205, Workers' Dignity Dignidad Obrera, Chattanooga for Workers, Progressive Student Alliance UTK, United Students Against Sweatshops, Tennessee Citizen Action, Organizing for Action Davidson County, UFCW Local 1995, Concerned Citizens for Justice, Healthy and Free Tennessee, Southeast Laborers' District Council,  Organized and United for Respect at Vanderbilt (OUR Vanderbilt).

Join us to Put the People First on May First -- and beyond!


Not a member?

United Campus Workers is Tennessee's higher education union; the only voice made up and run by staff and faculty at Tennessee's colleges and universities speaking up for our issues. UCW members are active organizing for our interests on our campuses and at the Tennessee General Assembly. JOIN US and help strengthen our movement! There is power in numbers, lift your voice today!

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. March in Knoxville's MLK Day Parade in the morning, and come celebrate and get inspired to get your year off right that evening!

Members from UCW in Memphis, where MLK was assassinated while fighting for a living wage, have been invited as guests of honor, and our speaker will be Stewart Acuff, who also spoke at our statewide convention. Read more about Mr. Acuff here.

Main dish provided (BBQ!)
Potluck sides and desserts
Music & Prizes
Childcare provided
Wheelchair accessible

Co-sponsored with Jobs With Justice of East Tennessee: Facebook group, website

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Join us that morning in the MLK Memorial March Parade!
Monday, January 20
Meet at 9am, Stepoff at 10am
YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Center, 124 S. Cruze Street, 37915
We will line up on Martin Luther King, Jr Ave near Tabernacle Baptist Church

(Look for the UCW banner!)

Read more about the days leading up to Dr. King's assassination and the sanitation workers' strike in Memphis, TN here:

http://www.afscme.org/union/history/mlk

All Knoxville-area events: www.mlkknoxville.org

For more info: [email protected], 865-329-0085; Day of: 617-304-1108

After thirteen years of calling on the University of Tennessee to seriously tackle the problem of poverty wages on its campuses, members of United Campus Workers, the union of staff and faculty at the state’s public colleges and universities, are cautiously celebrating. Today, UT agreed to raise its base pay to $9.50/hour for all full and part time regular employees by June 2014.

“This is a really important first step,” said Karly Safar, member of UCW and a secretary at UT. “There’s a long way to go to get everyone more than a check or two ahead of disaster. We’ve been working to get rid of poverty wages on campus for so long, and today we can be satisfied that our efforts are beginning to pay off.”

Indeed, it was in the year 2000 that UT’s Faculty Senate conducted a study that identified $9.50/hour plus benefits to be the minimum that regular employees needed to earn in order to make ends meet. The study called the $9.50 figure “the most conservative yet still defensible estimate…of what it would take to provide basic necessities and a life with dignity for a family of four in Knoxville.”

Founding members of the union who have since retired from full time work at UT remember calling for $9.50 an hour in 2000. Some of them return in the summers to work as temporary dorm custodians making $7.50, below even the current base pay.

Thirteen years later, that figure is $12.50/hour. The union’s calculations indicate that bringing the 1,550 regular campus employees who make less than a living wage up to $25,000 would cost just 1% of UT’s salary expenses.

“We provide a valuable public service to Tennesseans, and we’ve earned the right to be treated with respect and dignity,” said Tom Anderson, UCW President and UTK Facilities Services employee.

“We’re glad they’ve listened to us. The truth of the matter is that $9.50 just isn’t enough to make ends meet anymore. It’s a good step, but there’s still ground to cover.”

United Campus Workers began campaigning for a living wage just over a decade ago, and continues to bring together staff, faculty, students, and community allies in its campaign for living wages and public services in the state.

“Our motto is, ‘A full time job should keep you out of poverty, not in it,’” said Anderson. “It’s good to know that UT’s hearing us say it.”
 

Resources:

2010-2011 Living Wage Study by UTK Faculty Senate: http://senate.utk.edu/files/2011/08/2010-2011-Living-Wage-Study.pdf

Living Wage Fact Sheet, first Living Wage Study in 2000: http://web.utk.edu/~senate/LivingWageFAQ.html

The Minimum We Can Do: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/30/the-minimum-we-can-do/

What Families Need to Get By, Economic Policy Institute: http://www.epi.org/publication/ib368-basic-family-budgets/

UCWs members took part in a unique, concentrated organizing training held in Jackson, MS in mid-October. Joining together with dozens of public workers from other CWA locals from Mississippi, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and California, the participants learned about and then practiced principles of union organizing, including how to talk to coworkers and move them to action.

"The OI was a great opportunity to learn new organizing skills and to get to know other union member activists from across the country," said Melanie Barron, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Geography at UT Knoxville. "I have a better understanding of the importance of building genuine, solid relationships with my coworkers as I’m organizing on the job, and I feel emboldened and ready to make our union stronger—one member at a time."

Liz Roberson, assistant to the vice president for public, health care and education workers, Lisa Kermish, vice president of University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE-CWA Local 9119), and Brenda Scott, president of Mississippi Alliance of State Employees (MASE-CWA), led workshops, and UCW lead organizer Tom Smith and organizer Cassie Watters presented sections as well.

"I came away from the organizing institute feeling equipped and able to spread our union's message, and to confidently and knowledgeably build our union. The institute's trainers and staff, whose enduring patience and hard work focused simply on seeing each of us succeed, were responsible for giving me the needed tools. I whole-heartedly want to thank each and every one of them," said Michael Kuley, Research Assistant II in the Water Center at Tennessee Technological University.

After the training they visited City of Jackson Public Works workers and talked to them about the importance of building their voice, and listened to their stories and concerns. "The organizing training was really exciting for me," said Sheryl Allen, UCW organizer. "The best part was when we went to the job and all of us were working together to talk to city workers. We need lots more of that!"

Over the past several weeks we all have received a number of emails from the administration, and are likely hearing more from the media, our supervisors, colleagues, and friends concerning the purported $20+ million budget gap our university is facing. In response to this disconcerting budgetary situation, our new administration is strongly recommending "responsibility centered management" and an overall administrative and organizing restructuring.

As our union’s organizing committee said in a letter many faculty received this week, the speculative restructuring we have been hearing about speaks clearly to many of us as a deliberate move towards the privatization of our public institution. This application of a corporate model to our university not only threatens the security of our employment but also the quality and cost of the “product” we offer (education) and the experience and outcome of our target “consumer” (the student). At the end of the day, no amount of “right-sizing,” “cost-cutting,” “effectiveness and efficiency” will replace honest-to-goodness public investment in the future of our state through robust expenditures on public education.

Although it may feel as if decisions have already been made and the course to our future laid, in fact the real outcomes of these proposed changes will depend greatly upon our actions over the coming weeks and throughout this academic year. We are not content to see our institution move backwards and we invite you to join us in encouraging an alternative vision.

To this end we are hosting an informal public forum, Public Higher Education in the Age of Austerity, this Friday, September 27th from 12:30-1:30pm in room 308 of the UC. This event will provide information about the funding formula, similar restructuring proposals elsewhere in higher education, and concrete specifics and next steps concerning our situation here at U of M. Please attend and encourage co-workers to come with you for this important discussion.

Please help spread the word to all your colleagues, whether or not they belong to the union, by forwarding this statement or sharing its content with co-workers.

Additionally, we encourage all members to attend and participate actively in the open Town Hall meetings being hosted by university administration next week.

Finally, we know that only through organization and action can we improve our job future. Please consider joining the union’s organizing committee to help grow the union's power, plan future events and develop future statements concerning these matters. The union belongs to you, we can never accomplish more than what we set out to achieve together. If you are interested in the committee, please contact Tom Smith, 1-877-292-3865 (toll free cell) or by email.