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. 

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!
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.

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

These elected officials must hear from us about how we the economic crisis is adversely affecting our families and quality of life. 

Some economic conditions are slowly improving in Tennessee.  In fact, for the first quarter of this fiscal year sales tax collections outpaced projections by $46 million, the highest since 2007!  As these trends continue, we cannot allow the excuse of a "bad economy" to be used to keep hard working higher education employees down.  There will be no "economic recovery" until working class Tennesseans see improvements in their economic condition.

If you are already a union member, get involved by attending your local area meeting and helping in our lobbying efforts- sign up HERE to get involved!    If you haven’t joined UCW, now is the best time to take action on your own behalf to better your condition.  As individuals change is hard to achieve, and nearly impossible with the obstacles we face.  Only by coming together can we look out for ourselves and our communities.  Click HERE to join your Union!

"Seeing the state come up $550,000 a year for the UTHSC Chancellor and $305,000 a year for a TBR Chancellor just reinforces how little they seem to care that many of the people that actually clean and maintain the facilities, teach our children, and make sure the offices run smoothly live below the poverty line, and that many more earn far less than the prevailing wage for their positions."

In the Knoxville area, we are endorsing Sam Alexander for House District 18.   If you are interested in supporting the Local's electoral efforts in Knoxville, please contact Thomas Walker, chair of the Electoral Committee, at [email protected].  Mr. Alexander's responses to our candidate survey and in conversations with members have been very strongly supportive of our issues.  In particular:


Dr. Jan Simek
Acting President
The University of Tennessee
800 Andy Holt Tower Knoxville, TN 37996-0180

Steve J. Schwab, MD
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
62 South Dunlap, Suite 220
Memphis, TN 38163

Dear Drs. Simek and Schwab,

I am writing in regards to the Reductions in Force that have begun this week at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. I represent more than 1,100 public higher education employees across the state, including well over a hundred in the Memphis area.

We are deeply disturbed that these layoffs are going ahead despite the fact that federal stimulus monies designed to save jobs are available for nearly another year, and despite the Jobs bill signed this week by President Obama that sends money to states, including Tennessee, specifically to help save public-sector jobs, including those in education.

We are further disturbed by the mixed message being sent in hiring a new Chancellor at $550,000 per year while laying off hardworking, dedicated employees, many of whom barely earn $25,000 per year and who have not received even a modest raise in more than three years.

We are demanding fairness and consideration of those laid off in the severance packages they have been offered.

As we understand the facts, RIFed employees will only receive severance pay equal to the wages they would have earned through September 30, 2010, a date which cuts them out of any possible bonus money from the state should it go out.  There are no current plans on the administration’s part to provide either severance equal to what other state employees have received during recent layoffs or an extension of education benefits via tuition credits. It is ironic that other state employees get tuition credits but those who have dedicated years to higher education are offered none.

Our demands boil down to basic fairness and humanity:

1.      No additional layoffs.

2.      Recall rights, where laid off workers receive priority hiring for any positions that come open at UTHSC, and/or placement of RIFed workers into currently open UTHSC positions.

3.      Adequate severance pay equal to that provided by statute to other state workers.

4.      Tuition credits equal to a two-year extension of the current education benefits offered by UTHSC.

5.      Full disclosure of how these layoffs were conducted to verify that no irregularities or discrimination based on gender, race, or age took place.

Accepting these fair and just demands is the least you can do if you insist on continuing with these layoffs. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have.



Thomas Anderson
United Campus Workers - Communications Workers of America Local 3865
1124 N. Broadway
Knoxville, TN 37917
UCW Office: 865-329-0085
Mobile: 865-934-7373


cc:Congressman Steve Cohen, U. S. Rep, District 9
The Honorable Barbara Cooper, Rep. District 86
The Honorable John DeBerry, Rep. District 90
The Honorable Roy Herron, Sen. District 24
The Honorable Ulysses Jones, Jr., Rep. District 98