Workers call on the U to invest in people instead of buildings

AFSCME was joined by Teamsters, students and others in support of raises and respect for frontline workers.
AFSCME was joined by Teamsters, students and others in support of raises and respect for frontline workers.

Reposted from AFSCME Council 5

The University of Minnesota wants to limit clerical workers to a 1 percent raise this year and 0 percent next year, at the very same time it’s publicly launching a $4 billion capital campaign.

While administrators kicked off the campaign with balloons and a marching band outside the lavish McNamara Alumni Center Friday, University Unions United rallied just feet away to call attention to the hypocrisy. The group, which includes AFSCME, Teamsters and students, hopes to pressure administrators to give front-line workers decent raises in contract negotiations.

AFSCME Local 3800’s Caitlin Boley questioned why the University is putting money into buildings instead of people. She told the crowd of more than 80 supporters that the University’s new capital campaign is accurately named Driven.

“You know what they’re driving us to? They’re driving us, their frontline workers, to poverty,” she says. “They’re driving home the tale of two universities. There’s one for the halves, the rich administrators, and there’s one for the rest of us who are trying to do a good job making this place a world-class institution.

“My co-workers and I, we are not in the lab,” Boley says. “But if my co-workers don’t come to work, there’s nobody buying chemicals for cancer research. Don’t tell me we’re expendable.”

Local 3800 president Cherrene Horazuk says AFSCME, joined by other unions and students at the U, will hold administrators accountable.

“We are going to stand tall and stand together for a standard of living and make sure that this truly is a great university that is driven by equity and not by disparity,” she says.

After the protest, dozens of union members and supporters filed across the lawn to the capital campaign launch. They stood at the back of the crowd, silently holding their union banners high.