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Minnesota

University AFSCME strike on day 6

by staff |
September 11, 2007
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Al Franken addresses stikers.
Comedian Al Franken spoke to striking U of M workers at rally on September 10. (Fight Back! News)
Banner: Standing up for our standard of living.
Striking workers rally at the U of M on September 10.

Minneapolis, MN - Sept. 10 marked day 6 of the strike by University of Minnesota AFSCME. Picket lines remain strong as does worker participation in the strike. The strike is having a growing impact on the University of Minnesota.

The dental school and veterinarian teaching hospital are losing hundreds of thousands in patient revenue every week. While these clinics are not closed, they are only taking emergent patients. The opening of the Equine Center has been delayed until the end of the strike.

Food and supplies were turned away from loading docks as Teamster drivers honored picket lines. Law school interviews that had been scheduled for this week were moved off campus as law firms choose to honor AFSCME picket lines. Minnesota Senate Candidate Al Franken addressed a crowd of striking workers at noon today and encouraged them to keep fighting.

Tuesday and Wednesday will mark a "Teachout in Solidarity with Striking Workers" from 10a.m. until 3p.m. at the Oak Street Cinema, 309 Oak Street SE. In addition, 154 classes representing 4500 students will be held off campus on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sept. 11 is Teamster Tuesday on the picket lines. U of M Teamster members are encouraged to join striking AFSCME workers on the picket lines during their non-working hours. Expressions of support as well as donations to the U of M AFSCME support fund continue to pour in from throughout the country.

On Friday, in a letter addressed to President Bruininks and the Board of Regents, state Representatives Tom Rukavina, chair of the House Higher Education Finance Committee and Mary Murphy, Chair of the House Education Finance Committee wrote in part, “It is sad that we have to write this letter. We are deeply disappointed that thousands of University employees have been forced onto the picket lines due to the unwillingness of the University administration to provide adequate contact settlements for its clerical, technical and health care workers. For the first time in many years, the Minnesota Legislature provided the University with a generous 3.25% salary supplement. We expected those funds to be used to benefit all University employees. We can’t understand how you can justify your minuscule offer of 2.25% on the salary schedule for your hard working, dedicated employees.”

In a separate letter, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Speaker of the Minnesota House wrote, “During the 2007 legislative session, the legislature appropriated funds to the University of Minnesota after lengthy committee discussion with the implicit intent of a reasonable salary supplement to improve the standard of living of workers facing inflationary pressures. Frontline workers at the University of Minnesota deserve respect and a fair contract. I encourage you to bring your negotiators back to the table with additional resources and to find a compromise that honors those workers that serve the University of Minnesota, its students and the public”

AFSCME Local 3800 President, Phyllis Walker said, “Our strike is having a tremendous impact on the University of Minnesota. Student services are impacted and faculty and administrators are being forced to answer phones and make copies instead of teaching and planning. The State legislature allocated enough money to the University for a reasonable salary settlement. We call on the administration to be good stewards of the public trust and come to the bargaining table today with a fair offer. AFSCME is ready to get back to the work of education. We hope the U administration is ready to do the same.”

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