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

Memphis, TN - On Tuesday, University of Memphis President Rudd emailed all campus workers announcing a commitment to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour effective June 5, 2021.

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

Federal budget matters show up as state budget matters because of the huge amount of “pass-through” dollars from the federal to state level. Some of this funding goes to assist students with their college expenses. As state government support for higher education has steadily declined, tuition has skyrocketed. Since the 1980s, state appropriations in TN went from an estimated 70 percent to just 34 percent. Since 1990, average tuition increases at the state’s two-year colleges have increased 317 percent.


The Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) is slated to lose $186 million in funding, which includes the Federal TRIO programs, serving first generation, disabled, and low income students through outreach and student services. While Pell Grant funds are exempted from sequestration for FY2013, the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) is slated to lose $140 million, which includes funding for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG). Pellissippi State would have 8.2% of this funding cut this year, another 8.2% cut in work study funding, and programs funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities would also see cuts.


What does this mean for Pellissippi students?


Delonda Anderson is a “non-traditional” student who enrolled at Pellissippi State at a later age. After a divorce, she had trouble finding work with better hours than those washing dishes in a café. Currently a sophomore, she made the commitment to enroll full-time in order to concentrate only on school. Delonda believes higher education paves the way to better career options, enabling her to be a happier person, wife, and mother. Because she receives various forms of financial aid, if funding were cut, she would not be able to finish her schooling without taking out loans. From a mountain community in East Tennessee, she feels, “people don’t have any opportunity, especially in Appalachia. Congress doesn’t understand that when they cut programs, these are people you are investing in for the future of the country, people who contribute to the community.”


“Education is valuable in that it’s power,” said Mrs. Anderson. “If you take away the options people have to gain power, then it’s not a good society.”




Members of UCW met with the Governor's staff on Friday, November 30 and emphasized the need for living wages and fair raises for everyone to be included in this upcoming budget.  Click HERE to send a message to the Governor on this important issue!  It only takes a couple of minutes to let your voice be heard!

UCW has also launched a postcard campaign that is being sent to Governor Haslam.  Email [email protected] if you would like some for yourself and your coworkers to send!

Again, please take a minute to send a message to Governor Haslam about the need for living wages and fair raises.  Click HERE to send a message to the Governor!


To meet the basic cost of living in Memphis a person working full time must be paid at least $11.62/hr*. That's the Living Wage here. Both Shelby County and Memphis City acknowledge this number, and pay their workers a living wage at the very minimum. 

In a recent meeting University of Memphis administrators also acknowledged that $11.62/hr is the minimum pay required to meet the cost of living. 

And yet, many hundreds of University of Memphis workers, custodians and adjuncts, grounds keepers, clerical workers and graduate students, and many others, are paid what is literally a poverty wage. Many workers are forced to work 2 or 3 jobs, or rely on charity or government assistance to get by. 

Poverty wage policies at the University of Memphis are formed by the concrete and legal legacy of Jim Crow in the south. They are also shaped by a national trend to force universities to function more and more like corporations, treating diplomas as a commodity, and workers as just another cost.

Come hear workers speak their story, hear simple hard facts, and decide for yourself. The event is sponsored by 

United Campus Workers, Progressive Student Alliance, and Workers Interfaith Network.

You're invited to a community forum & mass meeting to discuss domestic partner benefits at UT and in higher education. This meeting is geared toward finding a way forward (in conversation and action) to make this university a more equitable, just and non-discriminating institution. While the administration has dismissed the unanimous Faculty Senate resolution calling for partner benefits and the community's demand for justice and fairness, we want to come together to think of a way forward. UT has a long history of trying to keep the bottom line as low as it can on the backs of its workers, and us workers have a long history of fighting back!

Tuesday, October 16th at 5:30pm
12th Floor Conference Room in McClung Tower in Humanities Plaza
UT Campus
Download flyer here


ALL Faculty, Staff, and Student allies are invited to join in solidarity (Alumni are welcome too)! We need everyone to put needed pressure on administration to do the right thing. 
Please pass this along to all interested persons and groups.

It is hosted by United Campus Workers, Tennessee's public higher education union, and its allies.

------Background information-----------------------
Last semester in April the Faculty Senate proposed a resolution in support of extending existing employee benefits for spouses of married couples to same sex couples who, in the state of Tennessee, are not afforded such legal standing. 

Education, leave and health benefits are a few among others that were proposed in this resolution and unanimously agreed upon by all Faculty Senate members. 

Monday, September 24, Chancellors Larry Arrington and Jimmy Cheek finally responded to the resolution with a three paragraph statement that many in the UT community feel was too brief, vague, disrespectful and insensitive.

In one of the more publicized lines of the Chancellors’ response letter, they wrote that the proposal was: "inconsistent with the public policy of our state expressed in constitutional and statutory provisions." However, the letter did not outline which policies or laws they were referencing and how those laws were being interpreted. 

There were a variety of responses: Most notably, faculty members Wanda Costen and Tina Shepardson's interview with (1), Commission for LGBT People Chair, Keith Kirkland’s, poignant open letter to Chancellor Cheek an Arrington (2) and student Eric Dixon’s opinion column in the Daily Beacon (3). See links below. 

If you would like to receive the email version of this invite please contact Thomas Walker at [email protected] or the United Campus Workers at 865-329-0085



With surplus revenue carried over from last year, isn't it time to stop poverty wages on our campuses?  Adjunct and contingent faculty have been making the same bad money for years, and many part-time or contract employees don't even see the raise.  Ask Governor Haslam to make eliminating poverty wages in higher education a top priority for his 2013 budget.  We know that real salary increases can move hundreds of workers out of poverty, cover the rising cost of living, and address salary equity issues.

Take action now for a real, fair raise for everyone in 2013!


Over 50 of us gave up a Saturday on September 8th to go to Nashville and shape the direction and vision of our union.IB Image

The day began with a breakfast, courtesy of our MTSU chapter. UCW President Tom Anderson called the meeting to order, and UCW Organizer Ash-Lee Henderson lead us in the rousing "My People!" exercise. We rounded out our convention opening with remarks from State Representative, Tennessee AFL-CIO President and UCW member Rep. Gary Moore. 

After introductions we moved into a presentation on our rights at work, and the situation we face as public workers in the US South. The presentation included information shared from the recent Southern Workers Assembly as well as a very substantive briefing from CWA District 3 General Counsel John Quinn (members who would like access to these materials can contact UCW at fairness [ at ] 

As we enjoyed lunch and prepared for the afternoon's training and strategy sessions, we shared stories of our organizing on campuses across our state. After lunch we attended workshops, and planned for the months and year ahead. We talked about the need for pay raises that benefit those that make the least, and prioritized efforts to win living wages, address dismal pay and working conditions of adjuncts, and secure additional funding for our higher education institutions and the staff and faculty that make them work with "Fair Raises for Everyone." Members discussed the nationwide attacks on public employee pensions, and how to fight back any efforts to dismantle our own TCRS pension plan.

With evening approaching we closed our 2012 Convention with the labor hymn "Solidarity Forever." Members exchanged contact information, more stories, handshakes and hugs, and departed for home. The mood was inspiringly upbeat, especially after such a long days work. As the song lyrics go, "the union's inspiration" was surely running through our veins!

Click HERE to see pictures from the day.

Weren't able to attend? There is still time to give input on our campaign moving forward. Fill out our Employee Fairness Survey, and identify the most pressing issues facing public higher education today!