United Campus Workers travel to Nashville to protest pay raise inequality

The United Campus Workers organization is going to Nashville Tuesday March 12 to address Tennessee legislators on the uneven distribution of the potential 1.5 percent raises to state employees in Governor Haslem’s 2013 budget proposal.
UCW is a union of people working with higher education faculty and staff to help make equality for all employees. The UCW came to Tech in the fall of 2010 when the campus began outsourcing a new custodial staff. UCW helps workers learn their rights and fights for a fair work environment for all employees. Since Nov. 2010 the organization has grown to 40 members on Tech campus. The UCW has over 1,300 total members on 14 different campuses throughout the University of Tennessee and Tennessee Board of Regents systems.
“We unite Tennessee’s higher education and faculty into a strong voice to address critical issues within the state,” Cassie Watters, UCW organizer, said.
The 1.5 percent raise for state workers will be distributed based on the employees’ job position and the department in which they work. In the Governor’s state address he stated his desire to steer away from cost of living raises, and instead emphasize a merit raise structure.
Workers, such as custodial staff will add a few cents to their paychecks. While UT administrators stand to earn millions in bonuses and in merit-based raises during the year, collectively

“You can’t call it a fair wage if some people increase 3 cents and others increase millions,” Michael Kuley, UCW member and research assistant for the water center at Tech, said. “You deserve raises for doing your job well throughout the year. The power for one person to subjectively refuse wages for whomever they deem unworthy isn’t far to the employee. The UCW would like equal distribution of the 1.5 percent raise budget to go to all employees of the university evenly.”

“Advocating and speaking out for voices that can’t be heard is important,” Andrew Smith, UCW member on campus and ten year professor at Tech, said. “Adjunct faculty will not be included in the state wide raises; however, they do teach multiple classes per semester averaging $1,800 per class.
Young teachers are working so hard but are not considered for the same benefits as the other employees.”
The UCW has collected data indicating that fair wages lead to better education in a community as well as more community involvement among residents.
“It’s going to be a struggle to see the changes we want made, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to stop,” Kuley said. “As long as it is being discussed we are still winning.”
A bus group from the UCW headquarters in Knoxville will be arriving at Tech Tuesday, March 12 to travel to Nashville to speak to their legislators on these issues. The trip is open to everyone.