Friday, September 14, 2007

Say It Ain't So, Bob...
The AFSCME Stike Continues - Let 'em Drink Coke!

From today's Daily:

September 14, 2007

Letters to the Editor

To the president

Dear Bob,

I can no longer just sit here fuming about your behavior toward your employees without writing to you. I worked very closely with you for almost four years - I read your mail, I wrote your letters, I corrected your grammar and spelling, I sat in your office and discussed folk music and James Taylor - in short, I considered myself to be on an equal footing with you as a human being.

I understood your mission to be one of supporting K-12 education and providing the most educational opportunities for the greatest number of people. I met amazing and talented people in your office, people who, like you, had altruistic and selfless goals for our community. I stood at your side as you handed out community service awards to those very people, and at your side I learned how important the little people behind the scenes can be.

When I hear people talking about you or your practices in a negative way, I have always stood up and spoken on your behalf - my description of you has always been "he's a stand-up guy." But I can't do that anymore. This current strike is no mere misunderstanding - you are insulting 3500 loyal employees by not giving us the money that we have worked so hard to attain. The very money that we asked the Legislature to provide for our salary increases.

Please show us that you are still a stand-up guy. Give me a chance to go back to American Federation of State, County and Municipal headquarters and tell them that I was right - you wouldn't treat us as peasants while you are raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

Marjorie Magidow Schalles

University employee

Lack of appreciation

I have been a University employee for 23 years now, and am not on strike. However, I must agree that the University does not appreciate its employee's experience based on its negotiations with AFSCME. Adding step increases together with cost-of-living increases to equal the rate of inflation demonstrates this.

I would add that the rate of inflation is highly debatable. On many items for a worker making $30,000 a year, it is not 4 percent annually. Gasoline was $1.50 a gallon four years ago. For University employees the out-of-pocket cost of health insurance for a family has gone up 300 percent in four years.

For several years University employees received cost-of-living increases below the rate of inflation when the budget was tight. Now, the question is: Can someone live in the Twin Cities on $30,000 a year?

Steve Wietgrefe

The 'U' and politics

Tuesday's article "Franken shows his support for campus strikers" included a quote by University spokesman Dan Wolter taking a political cheap shot at DFL Senate candidates Al Franken, Mike Ciresi and Jim Cohen for supporting our striking workers. In doing so, Wolter, a former GOP staffer, started the University on a slippery slope toward partisan politics, an arena in which the University does not belong.

If this is how President Bruininks' administration handles governmental relations, it is no wonder we have so much trouble getting sufficient funding.

Insulting political candidates, their supporters and the supporters of striking workers is a foolish and self-destructive move for this institution. Wolter and Bruininks should apologize to the candidates and to us.

David L. Liebow