… in the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the most charitable description of what’s been going on at the clubby University of Minnesota medical school would be “bizarre.”
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Comments of John Marty
On Employee Strike at BigU
State senator John Marty has a lot to do with funding for BigU at the Minnesota state legislature. I am sure that OurLeader is aware of this. When he makes his next sack cloth and ashes trip over to the legislature, I hope he keeps Marty's recent remarks in mind.
16 September 2007
The current University of Minnesota strike is typical of labor disputes around the country. The workers say they need and deserve better wages, management says they cannot afford them.
Regardless of how one talks about the increases, when inflation is factored in, a new clerical worker starting at the University today makes about 5% less than someone taking the identical job in 2003.
These are not highly paid employees; they include some of the lowest paid workers at the University. They really need more money. The average clerical, technical and health care worker makes $34,000 per year. That is the average; starting workers make much less. One striking employee said that even after working at the U of M full-time for 11 years, his family of four qualifies for food stamps.
Ironically, many of these people who work for the University of Minnesota could not afford to send their own children to school there.
The employees point out that the Legislature appropriated funding for 3.25% increases, but the university says that it cannot afford that much for the AFSCME workers. President Robert Bruininks said, "We believe we have a fair offer out there, and we believe we have to run the University in a way that is responsible to all of its employees."
Last year, the university president's salary was $384,000. That is more than the average striking worker makes in a decade.
On top of that, his compensation package included an additional $150,000 that he receives in deferred compensation, for a total of $539,000.
Everybody expects the University President to receive good compensation. But this year, his salary increased by $39 thousand, and his deferred compensation jumped an additional $25 thousand, bringing his total compensation to $598,000. That works out to be a 12% increase this year. Just the increase in his compensation, $64,000, is almost double what the average striking worker makes in a year.
This does not meet Bruininks' own criteria that the University be "responsible to all of its employees." It is easy to see why the AFSCME workers feel they are treated unfairly.
President Bruininks and his administration are paid to make some big financial decisions. It is sad that they appear blind to the impact of their actions on the lives of their own employees.
John Marty is a state senator representing District 54.
Another pair of important state legislators that OurLeader has annoyed by his intransigence are Tom Rukavina [Chair, Higher Education and Work Force Development Policy] and Mary Muphy [Chair, Education Finance and Economic Division] who have written him a letter about the situation.
Continuing to ignore the problem is not going to lead to a solution. OurLeader needs to get off his horse and start good faith negotiations for the sake of any remaining credibility the University might have in the social justice area. Do we really aim to be one of the "top public research universities in the world [sic]" on the backs of our lowest paid employees?
By the way, I hope OurLeader and Joltin' Joel are enjoying the football season after spending roughly five million dollars to do a coaching swap.