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Workers tell U of MN regents: ‘We want raises and respect’

By staff |
June 13, 2015
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Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME 3800 speaking to Board of Regents
Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME 3800 speaking to Board of Regents (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - University of Minnesota campus union workers, holding signs demanding “raises and respect“ held a press conference regarding the U of M proposed budget before testifying at the board of regents public budget hearing.

At the budget hearing, members of U of M AFSCME and Teamsters Local 320, which collectively represent over 4000 University workers, challenged the U of M budget proposals.

Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME 3800, said, "President Kaler’s budget continues the fiction that the university has budget problems while it continues to prioritize high paid administrators. With all the unanswered questions surrounding the administration and the board of regents of late, frontline workers are asking tough questions about wage and benefit disparities and we expect answers.”

AFSCME and Teamsters Local 320 have come together to demand adequate raises for frontline staff. Mick Kelly, member of Teamsters 320 negotiating committee said, “Right now there are 400 Teamsters at the U making less than $15 an hour. We are holding the university accountable and 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.”

Lorraine Haley, member of AFSCME 3800 stated, “I’ve worked at the university for 28 years, but the only way I’ll be able to afford retirement is if I get a part-time job.”

Claire Thiele, a lab animal attendant and a member of Teamsters 320 told the regents, “The work we do is physically, mentally and emotionally taxing, and essential to the research done at the U, and yet we are among the lowest paid of the frontline staff here.” Thiele makes less than $15 an hour.

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.”

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