Dear Colleagues and Co-Workers,
The men and women who work on this campus to make our own work possible are getting a raw deal. The clerical and business office staff who keep our departments functioning; the child development workers (many with advanced degrees) at the Child Development Lab to whom many of us entrust our children; the library staff who strive to ensure our great library remains great; the people who help care for our sick and injured pets at the Vet Med clinics, and assist in the veterinary hospital; the people who manage the big machinery in the engineering labs; the technical specialists who maintain the day-to-day operations of the campus: these people are more than our co-workers, they are our neighbors. And yes, they are getting a raw deal from the administration.
We are writing to you to tell you what is going on, and what you can do about it.
We are talking about the members of AFSCME Local 3700 and AFSCME Local 698, about 1,700 people in total. During their last round of bargaining, they worked twelve months without a contract. In the current round, they have worked two months already since the last contract expired. That is unacceptable. They deserve a fair contract now that will give them peace of mind about their financial future for the next several years.
The primary concerns are respect and fair wages.
Respect, because the administration wants to take away rights these workers have had for decades. The administration wants to make grievance cases more difficult to win. It wants to impose restrictions on workers’ conduct outside of the workplace – and if that sounds chilling, it should. Even worse, the standards would be set by departments rather than fairly across the university.
Fair wages, because these workers are paid an average salary of only $37,000 a year and yet the administration wants to stop overtime pay and undermine the step system of annual raises. On such modest annual incomes these workers, our neighbors, raise their children and care for elderly parents, worry about bills, and make ends meet. In the case of Local 3700, the university will not even discuss pay and wages until the odious set of demands on their conduct outside of work and other new indignities have been negotiated.
What can we as faculty do to help? The workers in AFSCME have asked us, the faculty who depend upon them for so many of our daily activities, to show our support. We will distribute to you their union posters, and we can all tape the posters to our doors.
To make our feelings known, we can write to the administration. Please take a few minutes to send an email to the Provost <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Chancellor <email@example.com> and President <PresidentEaster@uillinois.edu> and tell them what you think. Below is suggested language, or write your own message:
I am a faculty member who values the work performed by AFSCME union workers on this campus. Please show these men and women the respect they deserve. Bargain with them in good faith and grant to them the dignity of a decent living wage and work conditions that do not demean them. Our university is not Walmart. We are a land grant public institution whose motto is “Labor and Learning.” Please live up to that motto. Please live up to the historical ideals of this university in your relations with all the unions on our campus.
Your voice makes a difference. Join us in speaking up!
Campus Faculty Association
Campus Mail Code MC- 390
1001 Wright St., #6
Champaign, IL 61820-6225
To join our effort to form a union for tenure-stream faculty, contact us at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact our union local for non-tenure-track faculty, CFA #6546, email us at email@example.com
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