At a meeting of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees on September 12, 2013 in Urbana-Champaign, several individuals representing campus organizations addressed the growing income gap among employees, following the recent news that President Bob Easter received a $90,000 bonus. At noon, AFSCME organized a rally outside of the union. CFA President Harriet Murav addressed the board during public comment:
My message to you today concerns respect for all employees. How do we achieve a climate of respect?
By listening and providing a place at the decision making table for workers at the U of I. Service workers, clerical workers, people who provide technical support, faculty, and all workers at UI have talent and expertise that deserve respect and attention. Faculty have raised issues about shared governance, as a recent survey and the report of a UIUC faculty committee both show. I believe that the formation of a faculty union at UIC is a promising development in shared governance at our university system as a whole. But faculty seek not only improved shared governance for themselves. We believe that all workers on our campuses have something to contribute beyond the specifications of their job requirements. This pool of unused expertise should be tapped.
The extreme disparity in wages from the highest to the lowest paid employee of this university system is inappropriate for a land grant university whose motto is “learning and labor.” You’ve heard about the Senate committee report, which recommends a multi-year salary program, but I am here to tell that faculty seek higher wages also for their co-workers, service workers, clerical workers, and other employees.
I believe that taking concrete steps to redress these issues will make us a better learning community and will enable us to better serve the state of Illinois.