Minneapolis, MN - Workers at the University of Minnesota are fighting for a wage increase. On June 13, members of U of M AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) packed the room and testified at the University on Minnesota Board of Regents public hearing on the budget. They told the regents that union members’ salaries have lost about 5% of their value compared to inflation since 1994. Meanwhile, the university president’s salary has gained almost 80% in value above the rate of inflation, and all other high-end administrators have also gained salary increases well over the rate of inflation.
AFSCME members and supporters then rallied on June 27 outside the Board of Regents meeting where the budget was voted on. They demanded that the regents allocate money for a serious wage increase for clerical, technical and health care workers, to reverse the trend of low-paid workers falling behind inflation while top administrators continue to get larger and larger increases.
Members of AFSCME began contract negotiations in late May. Clerical, technical and health care workers at the university are negotiating together in a unified negotiating committee for the first time. This unity is also visible in the workplace, where hundreds of workers from the various unions have come together in a series of lunchtime meetings to hear the union’s presentation on wage disparity at the University and to organize to change the situation.