UI faculty picket on campus, asking for higher wages

They feel unappreciated, underpaid and overworked. And now faculty workers at the University think they have been lied to.

Faculty members see regular tuition raises. They see their jobs being cut and having one person fill what used to be two or three different jobs, while administrators are receiving large sums in severance pay. That is why the rallying cry of those who chose to protest by the Alma Mater on Friday afternoon was a simple: “The University is not broke. It’s broken.”

Almost 200 members of the Graduate Employees Organization, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, Association of Academic Professionals, or AAP, and Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, stood together to create solidarity and rally against the University.

Together they make up the Campus Labor Coalition, representing more than 5,000 workers at the University.

Many of these workers feel they are not being fairly compensated, while the wages of top administrators are increasing.

“We want to educate the campus and the community about the problems we’re having in bargaining,” said Jim McGuire, president of AFSCME 698. “The unions that are negotiating now and the unions that will be negotiating soon are trying to get them to show them respect.”

McGuire presented findings which he believes show that the University has increased its spending and budget in recent years and the University has received more than $1.2 billion in new revenue in the last five years.

Ricky Baldwin, chief negotiator for SEIU Local 73, said coming together was key for the groups.

“When things get bad, we’ve got to show them we’ll stand together,” Baldwin said.

McGuire hopes that President Robert Easter, who officially took the title as President earlier this month, will be more supportive than past presidents. The workers took the rally from the Alma Mater to the entrance of the Henry Administration Building, a symbolic gesture they have made during past rallies.

Some of their picket signs read “Equity, Fairness, Respect,” “Chop from the Top” and a majority of participants held up bright orange flyers with their slogan that “the University is not Broke, it’s Broken” and “solidarity.

Rallying cries of “No contract, no peace,” and “Whose university? Our University” gained the attention of people on the Quad.

“It helps the community when all of our wages are increased, and it helps the economy,” McGuire said.

University spokeswoman Robin Kaler could not be reached for comment.