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U of M workers disrupt Board of Regents meeting demanding raises and respect

By staff |
October 9, 2015
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Members of U of M campus unions  disrupt regents meeting.
Members of University of Minnesota campus unions disrupt Board of Regents meeting demanding raises and respect. (Fight Back! News / Staff

Minneapolis, MN – Chanting, “What do we want? Raises and respect. When do we want it? Now!” about 20 university workers held signs and protested inside the Board of Regents meeting, Oct. 9.

Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME 3800, the University of Minnesota clerical workers, said, “It’s appalling that the Board of Regents is voting to spend $166 million on a new sports complex when many members of the university workforce are forced to live in poverty. Between the sports village, settling sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits, and huge raises for coaches, it’s clear that the university has money to spend. They need to prioritize dignified salary increases and equitable leave benefits for unionized staff, who make up the most diverse segment of the university workforce.”

Horazuk continued, “$100,000 could provide $15-an-hour salaries for the 82 clerical workers who make less than that. $175,000 could provide the six-week paid parental leave that is equivalent to what faculty and professional employees are given.”

Members of U of MN AFSCME and Teamsters Local 320, which collectively represent over 4000 university workers, are currently in contract negotiations with the university. The university’s wage proposals stand at 0.25% and 0.75%.

Missy Bernard, a clerical worker in the College of Education and Human Development, said, “The university’s offer of 0.375% equates to $0.54 per day for me. An increase of less than 1% does not even cover the cost of the gas it takes me to get to work, much less the cost of school lunches to feed my two children.”

Mick Kelly, member of Teamsters 320 negotiating committee noted, “Right now there are 400 Teamsters at the U making less than $15 an hour. We insist on our right to a decent standard of living. We are tired of making due with less; we want and expect raises and respect.”

Horazuk concluded, “As the sixth largest employer in the state of Minnesota, and as the state's land grant university, it's time for the U of M to close the gap between haves and have-nots within its own workforce. This is a public university, not a private business where a few people on the top get CEO salaries while those on the bottom struggle to survive.”