Knoxville, TN - After more than two years of campaigning by United Campus Workers, on Monday, March 1 at the monthly Faculty Senate meeting at the Univers

UCW has launched an open letter calling on Governor Bill Lee to include higher education employees in COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans. 

In an email sent to all UT system employees this afternoon UT President DiPietro made the pay raise announcement official, pending Board of Trustee approval, and we won what we've been fighting for: flat dollar minimums ($1,000 for most employees, as much as $2,600 for the lowest paid). This is wonderful news, and with the increase in base pay to $8.50 it is also a major milestone in the campaign for Living Wages on campuses across the state. We hope that TBR Chancellor John Morgan and other members of TBR leadership will deciede to take a similar approach with pay raises on their campuses.

We need to remember some context. This time last year Govenor Bredesen had just finished threatening a 5% pay cut as leverage in budget debates. University officials and state politicians alike were making statements that it would likely be years before another pay raise. This is our victory. This news comes after months of hard work where literally thousands of public higher education employees were involved. We refused to go another year without a cost of living increase. We sent emails and made phone calls, we attended union meetings, planned informational pickets, press conferences and rallies. Over 100 higher ed employees even spent our vacation time traveling to Nashville to lobby for a real, flat dollar cost of living increase. 

And this fight is not over yet. We await news from TBR concerning their pay raise plans. Recent statements from campus administrators have mentioned a 3% pay increase, and this positive motion is the result of pressure we have kept on TBR officials to stand with hardworking staff and faculty. But we need an equal dollar raise from TBR as well. The last 4 pay increases for public higher education employees have included a flat dollar compontent at UT, but sadly TBR did not follow suit. We hope Chancellor Morgan will show leadership and get on board with these efforts this year and in the years to come.

A final point, in his message President DiPietro made a special point to give credit to members of the UT Employee Relations Advisory Board for pushing for a minimum dollar increase. Leading our union is oftentimes tireless, thankless work - but it feels important to take a moment and say "thank you" to UCW-CWA President Tom Anderson. Tom, who works in the UT Knoxville Physical Plant, sits on the ERAB. He has made sure that discussion of flat dollar pay raises have been on every ERAB meeting agenda this year. 

Good work; let's get back to it. We've got a flat dollar pay raise still to win at TBR.


From: President Joseph A DiPietro

Sent: Wednesday June 15 2011 3:19 PM
To: President Joseph A DiPietro
Subject: Fiscal Year 2012 Pay Increases

June 15, 2011

To: UT System-wide Faculty and Staff
From: President Joe DiPietro
Re: Fiscal Year 2012 Pay Increases

As you know, the State of Tennessee has authorized a 1.6 percent pay increase for
state employees. The University of Tennessee will fund the additional amount
necessary for a total across-the-board raise of 2 percent for all eligible staff and
faculty statewide with satisfactory job performance evaluations. This increase takes
effect for most employees on July 1, 2011.

The following guidelines govern plans to implement across-the-board pay increases:

* Full-time and part-time regular employees paid less than $8.50 an hour before July
1, 2011, receive an automatic increase to $8.50 an hour. Eligible members of that
group also will receive a 2 percent across-the-board increase or $500, whichever is

* Eligible, full-time and part-time regular employees currently paid $8.50 an hour
or more will receive a 2 percent across-the-board increase or $1,000, whichever is

The decision to include a flat minimum pay increase as described above is based on
input from your Employee Relations Advisory Board (ERAB), the University's official
employee representative group. It also reflects a commitment from the Compensation
Advisory Board to help our lowest-paid employees.

In addition to the across-the-board provisions, leadership at each campus, institute
and for the System are developing plans for additional merit- and equity-based
increases. After four years without state appropriations for a pay raise for our
employees, a pay increase is the University's first priority this year despite
limited budget resources and the need for cuts in other areas.

Final details of any additional increases - the amount and who receives them - will
be determined and communicated by the campuses and institutes. Specific amounts will
vary, and it is up to each unit to find funding for its proposed plan.

The Board of Trustees must approve proposed pay increases as part of its vote on the
entire University budget. Pending budget approval by the Board at its meeting on
June 23, increases take effect July 1, 2011, for all staff and for faculty with
12-month appointments. Increases for faculty with nine-month appointments take
effect Aug. 1, 2011.

Thank you for all your good work for the University of Tennessee. 

In an official UT memo obtained yesterday afternoon by the union it appears that workers in that higher education system have won their campaign for a flat $1,000 raise. The United Campus Workers hopes UT will confirm this raise plan with statewide announcement to employees, and that TBR will implement similar plan to ensure pay fairness for Board of Regents employees across the state.

UCW President and full-time UTK Facilities Services employee Tom Anderson said, “The state legislature passed a budget that included funding for higher education pay increases. While we welcomed the news of any type of raise, if distributed as a percentage for most of us 1.6% is not even enough to keep up with the increased price of our monthly insurance premiums.  Both UT President DiPietro and TBR Chancellor Morgan have previously pledged a desire to do more to increase that raise pool. We are pleased to see UT President DiPietro stand by his commitment with this memo, this shows real leadership. We also need to make sure Chancellor Morgan follows through on his pledge”

The bad economy has seen many go without, adding to longstanding trends of low pay in many job classifications.  “The cost of living has increased 8.47 percent since the last raise in July 2007,” explains Paul Trogen, Associate Professor of Public Finance and union member at East Tennessee State University.  “Increases in our salaries have been zero. Governor Haslam raised the salaries of his department heads and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey raised the salaries of his staff by re-classifying their positions.  But neither the Governor nor the Legislature appear to feel that attracting and retaining faculty to teach the college students of Tennessee is important enough than to pay any more than the lowest salaries in the nation.”

After four years with no cost of living increases for most employees UCW is advocating for an equal dollar raise rather than a percentage.  “A 1.6% pay raise is great if you’re already making a good salary,” explains UCW Memphis Vice President Elect and full-time University of Memphis Custodial Services employee Thelma Jean Rimmer, “but if you’re only making $14,000 a year, it’s not even enough to cover the increased cost of food and gas, or the health insurance.  If TBR would take that same money and divide it equally among all faculty and staff, if they would follow UT’s plan it would go a long way toward bringing us up to a living wage.”

United Campus Workers – Communications Workers of America Local 3865 is Tennessee’s higher education union, with more than 1,200 members who work on 11 TBR and UT campuses across the state.

UCW members at Tennessee Tech have elected local organizing committee representatives. If you have questions about the union, get in touch with your local representatives!

Dixie Ashburn, Staff Representative, Secretary 3, Curriculum & Instruction

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Terri Stidham, Staff Representative, Custodian, Johnson Hall

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Jon Jonakin, Faculty Representative, Professor of Economics

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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!