While the Governor, who was recently named the country’s richest politician, bragged about Tennessee’s designation as “State of the Year” in economic development and job creation, he failed to mention that in the same period it also became the state with the highest rate of minimum wage jobs in the country. Many of these added jobs are only temporary and lack benefits.

“We need an economy that puts the people of Tennessee first, and that includes jobs that pay a living wage and have good benefits, not low wage jobs with no stability,” said Susan Williams, department secretary at the University of Tennessee Knoxville/UTK.

The Governor’s speech included proposed changes to benefits for many state workers, including the longevity bonus which compensates loyal public servants based on years of service. Though it does not yet include higher education employees, many are still concerned that the cuts won't stop there. “I have serious concerns about Haslam’s proposal to eliminate the longevity bonus, folding half of it into base pay and using the rest for merit raises,” said Tom Anderson, a Facilities Services employee at UTK. “I’ve come to expect and rely on that benefit and not for vacations and fluff. Over the years it has paid for doctor and dentists visits, and car and home repairs that would otherwise have been impossible for me to afford. That it’s being gutted is very alarming.”

Proposals to expand access to higher education for Tennesseans were meanwhile applauded, though questions about implementation remain unanswered.

“Like Governor Haslam, we believe that education is key both to economic development and to a functioning democracy. We also think everyone in our state should be able to go to college for free,” said Gabe Crowell, Adjunct, Pellissippi and Roane State Community Colleges." Adequate funding is crucial to achieve these goals. Increasingly, Tennessee relies on low-wage jobs in our public higher education system. We’ve got people on campuses making poverty wages, including folks teaching our students. That’s got to change, and the Governor can change it.”

We invite media to, where campus workers will be posting what their longevity pay means to them with #HandsOffMyLongevity.


Members available to be interviewed - For more information, please contact:

Cassie Watters, United Campus Workers, 877-292-3865

At the moment we in higher education may be spared from this attack. But what is more true than ever? What our members on campuses across Tennessee have been saying all along: We need secure jobs that pay living wages with the benefits we have earned through years of loyal service! Hands off our earned benefits!

We also know from past experience that the budget process is fluid. We've seen horrible things happen during the session, like when last year's promises of raises and the funding earned by our campuses were both yanked back by Gov. Haslam. We know that when wealthy politicians go after benefits for some (like new employees' pension no longer being a fully guaranteed benefit), they will continue to cut! This has been the dominant agenda in Nashville over the past several years.

But we have a different agenda, and that agenda can win if we use our collective voice. Here's what we must do:

  • 1) Organize, organize, organize. Now is the time to ask your coworkers to join our union. Talk to them about the power it takes to speak against these attacks, and why having a voice that belongs to higher education employees that advocates for higher education employees is so essential.
  • 2) Show up in force on TUESDAY, MARCH 17 at United Campus Workers' Lobby Day at the Capitol in Nashville. Reserve your spot on the bus today. Let's tell them: Living Wage Jobs, Public Education, and Democracy for Tennessee! Hands off our longevity! #PeopleFirstBudget #handsOFFmylongevity

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 actively 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!

SPREAD THE WORD about UCW-CWA to your friends and coworkers!

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January 8, 2015

KNOXVILLE - United Campus Workers-Communications Workers of America Local 3865, Tennessee's public higher education union, welcomes President Obama and Vice President Biden's upcoming visit to East Tennessee, and applauds their support for higher education. Every year, we demonstrate to Governor Haslam and the General Assembly that higher education institutions are key economic drivers, and campus employees - from professors and adjuncts, secretaries and custodians, to researchers and counselors - are at the forefront of delivering quality education and essential services to Tennesseans.


Initiatives such as the Drive to 55 and the Tennessee Promise are receiving much attention. What is not receiving attention is the fact that no public policy solution can succeed without publicly financed support. Sweeping public policy initiatives require a strong commitment to public financing. Governor Haslam's higher education initiatives have included zero funding other than to offset student costs. This is not sufficient to support community colleges and technical centers around the state in facing the challenge of thousands of new enrollees in 2015. What's more, despite a rhetorical emphasis on education, funding earned under the new formula as well as pay raises for higher education employees and teachers were the first items the governor cut from the budget. He has broken the promises he made during the 2014 State of the State to make higher education his "top priority," and to make Tennessee a national leader in increasing educator salaries.


Since 2008, politicians at the state capitol have made $200 million in cuts to higher education, which have raised tuition for students and slashed wages for campus workers. They locked in these cuts and tied future funding to poor metrics of educational achievement through the 2010 Complete College Tennessee Act (CCTA). This creates a zero-sum game, in which institutions essentially compete with one another for the same funding. Despite misgivings, students and educators rose to the challenge and met many of the new criteria. Instead of being rewarded for these achievements, Governor Haslam slashed higher education again in his 2015 budget.


Our state needs a fully funded higher education system, with a workforce of educators and support staff who are competitively and fairly compensated. Campus workers desperately need a living wage. With no new funding for higher education, and no public funding attached to these public policy initiatives, we can expect continuing poverty wages and an increase in temporary, benefit-free jobs such as adjuncts and outsourced custodians and other support staff.


United Campus Workers has an alternative to Haslam's unsustainable model for Tennessee higher education. Governor Haslam needs to put the people first. Our state needs living wage jobs, high-quality, public education, affordable health care, and respect for our democratic rights to vote, organize, and exercise our constitutional freedoms. Our working conditions are our students' learning conditions.



Members available to be interviewed - For more information, please contact:

Cassie Watters, United Campus Workers, 877-292-3865

From: Robynn Hopkins (rghopkns) on behalf of Maria Alam (malam)

Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 3:58 PM
To: All Faculty and Staff
Subject: Important HR Update (SSARP, ACA and FLSA)


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Department of Human Resources

Chief Human Resources Officer
171 Administration Bldg.
Memphis, TN 38152-3370
Office: 901.678.2867
Fax: 901.678.1518


Dear University Community:

Thank you for your support and feedback as we worked through the proposed changes to be able to implement federal and local programs such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Social Security Alternative Retirement Plan (SSARP) and the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guidelines.  We heard your concerns and in our attempt to accommodate all issues raised and suggestions made, it has been determined that the Social Security Alternative Retirement Plan (SSARP) will not be implemented until further notice.


However, because we must comply with the FLSA as dictated by the Department of Labor and the ACA as mandated by the Federal government, we will, at this time, only focus on necessary changes associated with the implementation of these programs.



All temporary (non-student) employee assignments will be automatically terminated effective December 19, 2014. New temporary appointments must have an effective hire date of January 5, 2015 or later, and should have been received by Workforce Management last Friday, December 12, 2014 to be guaranteed a timely paycheck in January 2015. This does not apply to part-time faculty appointments.


For Temporary Employees:

·         If you have not completed an electronic employment application through the appropriate temporary pool in workforUM, please do so immediately.

o   The pools can be found by clicking the "Temporary" button on the top right corner of the page.

o   You DO NOT have to upload your resume, cover letter, etc. unless the hiring department requires you to do so.

·         If you already had an I-9, direct deposit, and W-4 on file with the University, you do not need to resubmit those documents.


For Hiring Departments:

·         If you haven’t already submitted a new Temporary Appointment Form for each temporary assignment, please complete and submit to Workforce Management (AD 165) immediately. The appointment forms were due on Friday, December 12; therefore, if they have not already been received by Human Resources, a January 5, 2015 start date nor the timely processing of a paycheck for the January 2015 payrolls can be guaranteed.

·         If you are planning to hire a temporary non-exempt (hourly paid) employee for 30 hours or more per week (e-class TE), a new position request (FP-02) form must be completed and submitted with the appointment form to Workforce Management (AD 165). This form is also required to establish a new e-class TH or e-class TS position.

·         Another new e-class (TR) has been established for those retired faculty and staff who will NOT work more than 900 hours per year AND will earn at least $455 per week. A new position request (FP-02) form must be completed and submitted with the appointment form to Workforce Management (AD 165) immediately.

·         If you need to utilize Kelly Services during December 20, 2014 - January 4, 2015, a Temporary Services Request Form should be submitted to Workforce Management (AD 165) immediately (deadline was December 12, 2014).

·         If you have students on monthly appointments (e-class SM), those assignments will terminate no later than December 31. New Student Payroll Action Forms, using e-class ST, should be submitted by the hiring department to the Student Employment Office.


The links to the required forms mentioned above follows:


·         Temporary Employee Appointment Form:


·         Temporary Services Request (Kelly Services) Form:


·         Form FP-02: New Position (Pooled):


·         WorkforUM Electronic Employment Application:


Thank you for your partnership and support through this process. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].


We wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season.



Maria Alam
AVP/Chief HR Officer


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The University of Memphis
A Tennessee Board of Regents Institution
An Equal Opportunity · Affirmative Action University


Communications Workers of American local 3865 | Tennessee’s Public Higher Education Union



University of Memphis Lays off Workers 6 Days before Christmas to Dodge Social Security

December 16, 2014
Memphis, TN - On Tuesday, December 9th, the University of Memphis sent a memo to its temporary employees informing them that in lieu of Social Security coverage, they would be enrolled in a Federal Insurance Contributions (FICA) alternative plan. FICA alternative plans were created in 1990 by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Bill, which allowed public employers to enroll temporary, seasonal employees in them. In order to ensure employees meet this status, the university plans to fire these workers on December 19th, force them to reapply for their jobs and rehire them next year without Social Security benefits. Workers were surprised to see this cut in retirement benefits presented as a positive change.

“The university implied in their memo that we would make more with this new plan and that they were offering us an exciting new benefit. The truth is the opposite though, this plan means a real pay cut for us, as well as a less stable retirement",” said Jeffrey Lichtenstein, a temporary employee in the University of Memphis CPGIS department. “They didn't give us any opportunity for input. Instead, they just laid us off, told us to reapply for our jobs, and enrolled us in the new program. That one of our state institutions would conduct itself in such a way is really an issue of public concern.”

This is a deliberate move by the university to avoid contributing to their workers’ retirement. Today, workers and the university each contribute 6.2 percent earnings into the Social Security system. Under a 401(a) plan, workers are forced to put 7.5 percent of their pay into a riskier retirement fund managed by Wall Street investment bankers; the university pays nothing into this fund. Rather than the guaranteed lifetime income that Social Security provides, the 401(a) plan puts the entire retirement risk on the backs of workers.

In addition, initial 401(a) investment options typically have interest rates of only between 1-3%. Workers can opt into higher risk, higher return investments, but these typically have hefty fees, which can erode retirement savings dramatically.

This plan is not just problematic for university employees whose retirement savings will soon be subject to the volatility of the stock market. It also threatens the stability of the Social Security system for current retirees.

“I was a teacher for 39 years in Memphis City Schools. Social Security is my income! It’s a real part of what keeps me living. It’s food, clothing and shelter. I put it aside during my working years as a main part of my retirement plan” said Mrs. Earline Duncan, retired teacher from Lester Elementary School, MCS. “It’s cruel to deny a worker the opportunity to participate in Social Security."

“FICA alternative plans represent a partial privatization of Social Security,” said Dr. David Ciscel, Professor Emeritus of Economics from the University of Memphis. “Current retirees depend on current workers to continue paying into the program to keep it solvent. Every time an employer chooses to enroll employees in individual investment accounts instead of Social Security, the program is threatened. Social Security is designed to ensure that all Americans have a dignified retirement, those currently working and those who are already retired.”


For more information, please contact:

Tom Smith

United Campus Workers – Communications Workers of American Local 3865

865-454-0241 (cell)


Job Announcement

Position Title: Membership Services Coordinator

United Campus Workers Background:

In 2000, a core of campus workers, students, and community allies launched an organizing drive for living wages and decent working conditions on the UT-Knoxville campus. Beginning with no national union backing and few resources outside of the workers’ initiative and student solidarity, UCW has grown to a current membership of nearly 1,500 higher education staff and faculty on public university and community college campuses across Tennessee.

UCW-CWA currently employees three full-time organizers and a bookkeeper. Our members continue to lead struggles for human rights, dignity, respect, and power in the US South. We work tirelessly to fulfill our mission to advance and defend the interests of all Tennessee higher education staff and faculty, as well as promoting solidarity, democracy, and advancing social and economic justice in our workplaces and in our communities.

Position Summary:

The position is responsible for coordinating the local’s membership services processing, maintaining office files, and fulfilling other administrative duties consistent with an office management position.

Additionally, as skillset and time allows, the local is interested in possible expanded duties and added hours coordinating the union’s communications work. These additional duties would include:

-          Managing, monitoring, and editing external communications such as newsletters, flyers, informational materials, website materials, and email communications;

-          Coordinate publication of quarterly print newsletter;

-          Coordinate regular e-blasts and website updates.


The Membership Services Coordinator works closely with the organizers, bookkeeper, and local officers, and reports to the local’s lead organizer.

Required: Previous work history in an office environment. Demonstrated ability to organize files and other information to ensure effective and timely retrieval. Utmost attention to detail is critical. Ability to work independently and self-supervise. Computer and software proficiency with basic PC programs (MS Office Suite), email, database programs, internet. Ability to set and keep a regular schedule; set scheduling is flexible but preferred during normal business hours. Strong written and verbal communications.

Preferred: Experience with nonprofit and social/economic/environmental justice movement organizations. Proficiency with additional software knowledge (Adobe Creative Suite, etc.). History of communications work (journalism, social media, mass communications training, etc.)

Pay: Living wage for part-time work (Range 15-20 hour per week starting), $15/hour.

To apply, send resumes to [email protected] All resumes must be received by December 31, 2014. 

Correction: please note that a type-o in the original posting listed a January closing date. This should have been a December closing date. The posting has been updated to reflect this correction.

Communications Workers of American local 3865 | Tennessee’s Public Higher Education Union



Put the People First, Governor Haslam: Education and Healthcare are Both Critical to Tennessee


December 8, 2014
Last week, amidst growing speculation that he will run for President,  Governor Haslam held his annual budget hearings with officials from state agencies and higher education. Throughout the week, and in an interview with Nashville Public Radio, Governor Haslam argued that our state has to choose between providing affordable healthcare or quality, public higher education to Tennesseans.


“These are false choices. Tennesseans desperately need high quality public education and affordable healthcare,” said United Campus Workers (UCW) Executive Board member and UT Knoxville employee Thomas Walker.  “The governor and General Assembly always seem to find money to give themselves pay raises and give hundreds of millions in tax breaks to big corporations. The real choice we have to make is between subsidizing billionaires or assisting Tennesseans most in need of help – students, higher education employees, Tennesseans without healthcare coverage.”


The poorest 20% of Tennesseans pay 11.2% of their income in taxes while the richest 1% only pay 2.8%. The poorest Tennesseans pay a disproportionate amount of their income in taxes, yet the Governor remains determined to cut services that benefit them the most.


Since 2008 Governor Haslam and his friends at the Capitol have raised tuition for students and slashed wages for university workers with $200 million in cuts to higher education. They locked in these cuts and tied future funding to poor metrics of educational achievement. Despite misgivings, students and educators rose to the challenge and met many of the new criteria, yet Governor Haslam further slashed higher education in his 2015 budget.


The Governor’s mean-spirited attempt to pit education against healthcare also ignores the fact that Tennessee has lost over $842 million dollars in the last year because the Governor refused federal funding to expand Medicaid. The true cost of this isn’t best measured in dollars, but in the human cost as low-income Tennesseans are forced to choose between doctors’ appointments and groceries.


“Graduate assistants work hard every day at the University of Memphis, yet we make poverty wages. Some earn as little as $9,000 a year.. Many graduate assistants can’t afford to buy healthcare out of pocket, the University doesn't offer it, and because the Governor refused Medicaid funding, many graduate students don’t even benefit from the Affordable Care Act. The Governor claims to care about education, but as a graduate student, I certainly don't feel prioritized.” said Josh Dohmen, a graduate student at the University of Memphis.


“I don’t see how a hospital closing in Haywood County because of the Governor’s refusal of federal Medicaid funding is beneficial for higher education,” said Tom Anderson, UCW President and UT Knoxville employee. "We need Governor Haslam to explain how bringing hundreds of millions of dollars into Tennessee is bad for the state.  It just doesn't make sense.  My family is from coal country. They worked hard their whole lives, suffering without healthcare, all because the Governor is using his own citizens' lives as bargaining chips.”

Anderson continues, “Tennessee has finite resources, no one is arguing that point, but the governor’s false dichotomy hides the real question: how can we use our finite resources to serve the needs of all Tennesseans. Our answer is that Governor Haslam needs to put the people first. Our state needs living wage jobs, high-quality, public education, affordable health care, and respect for our democratic rights to vote, organize, and exercise our constitutional freedoms.”


Resources: Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, January 2013:

Governor Haslam Looks Like Presidential Contender:




Members available to be interviewed - For more information, please contact:

Cassie Watters

United Campus Workers