Welcome to Morris, Chancellor Michelle Behr!

The Co-Chairs of the Morris AFSCME group, Janel Mendoza and Laura Thielke, presented new Chancellor Michelle Behr with a gift of a Morris blanket from the AFSCME Clerical and Technical units. Janel and Laura also delivered a card filled with welcome messages from several Morris Clerical and Technical workers who also contributed to purchase the blanket from the Bookstore.
 
Janel and Laura told Chancellor Behr about the history of AFSCME at the University of Minnesota. Coworkers who worked here before we organized our union in 1991 (Clericals) and 1993 (Technicals) remembered several years of the administration telling staff that they would get salary increases the next year, but the raises never arrived! Both Janel and Laura  started working at Morris as student employees. Laura remembers working 10 hours per week earning $6.18 per hour as a student in the early 1990’s.
 
After graduating, Laura was a temporary clerical employee working 40 hours per week earning only a few cents more per hour than she did as a student. She reported that it has taken a long time in her continuing position to reach a living wage. Janel spoke on the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the Morris campus. She left Morris after graduation, but ended up coming back a few short years later in order to take a position in Facilities Management— the department she had worked in as a student. This speaks to the importance of forming positive and supportive work relationships with co-workers. As AFSCME stewards, Laura and Janel have had very few issues brought to their attention. They feel this reflects the generally “happy” atmosphere of this campus. 
 
Janel and Laura talked about AFSCME’s goals of every employee feeling respected and appreciated and having good working relationships. They mentioned that contract negotiations for our two-year contract would be starting soon, and we normally spend several months in negotiations, eventually getting retroactive wage increases. They mentioned our long-time annual tradition of receiving University release time to lobby for the University at AFSCME Day on the Hill. They also mentioned the newer tradition of Morris AFSCME & Teamster staff gathering for a May Day Coffee Break.
 
Chancellor Behr said that she has good impressions of the campus working relationships so far. She plans to continue having open office hours for meeting with members of the campus community, and we should not be shy about bringing concerns to her attention.