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New strikers join AFSCME picket lines at the University, Students set hunger strike for Monday

by staff |
September 15, 2007
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Minneapolis, MN - Ten registration, scheduling and insurance processing staff who had been working at Boynton Health Services joined the picket lines, Sept. 13. When asked why they joined the picket lines all agreed that, "We wanted to join the picket lines to support all of our co-workers who have been out on the lines before us." Tammy Harris, Boynton outpatient clinic assistant said, "I went out on strike because I want change."

The strike continues to take its toll on university operations. Twelve people in the School of Journalism received an email that read in part, "You are receiving this message because your fall appointment was entered into the payroll entry system after the payroll entry cut-off…(We're experiencing delays with some payroll entry items that we can only guess is due to the strike.)”

The University is experiencing delays in the delivery of goods and services as unionized delivery drivers honor AFSCME's picket lines at loading docks.

Hunger Strike

At a Sept. 13 student solidarity rally, Isaac Kamola read statement on behalf of students. It read in part:

"The administration's treatment of the AFSCME workers represents a future of economic injustice and inequality. The administration's offer is not only unfair, it violates the inherent human rights of workers to a livable and equitable wage. We refuse to live in that world and we refuse to silently allow our institution to perpetuate this inequality and injustice. We refuse to allow our university to be an employer in which fulltime, long-term employees fail to make a living wage and must take on second jobs, or choose health care or gas over basic necessities like food. We refuse to allow the administration to offer such measly contracts that our AFSCME brother and sisters must go to food shelters to meet their needs.”

The students’ statement continued, “Now we are taking a principled stand. Your refusal to listen to us has forced us to take drastic action, to put our bodies on the line. Starting this Monday, Sept. 17, 2007 at noon, a committed group of students will begin a hunger strike in solidarity with the striking workers. We refuse to let our sisters and brothers in AFSCME go hungry alone. In a survey of AFSCME workers, 25% said they had trouble buying food for their families. We want justice for our community, and that means nobody in our university should go hungry."

Tracy Molm, a member of Students for Democratic Society states, “We back AFSCME’s fight for economic justice, and we are building a student movement that is solidarity with that struggle.”

Pressure is building on the University president Robert Bruininks. Said Barb Bezat, president of AFSCME 3937, "The university administration is no longer trying to claim that the strike is having no impact, as it tried to say in the first days. The strike is having an impact economically, politically and morally on the campus community. Robert Bruininks has the power to end the strike tomorrow. He needs to put the money the legislature gave the university for workers' salaries on the table.