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An injury to one...

They're out there every day - sun, rain, wind, or cold, at the entrances to the UMD campus, fighting to hold the line on a decent standard of living. AFSCME-organized workers at UMD are fighting for a fair wage and fair treatment from the University system administration in the face of callous treatment and a cold shoulder. When the Minnesota state legislature allotted a 3.25 % raise for University system employees, all other job classes were given that or higher, but the lowest-paid Universtiy employees were only offered 2.25%, which won't keep pace with inflation. There's a great article on the details that appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune here.

The strikers need messages of support. Their fight is a fight against the continuing erosion of the middle class and the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us. Do you want to live as well as your parents? Want health care? Do you like the idea of a retirement? Weekends? 40-hour work weeks? When the unions were strong and strikes were frequent, most people took these things for granted; now the score is working two or three jobs to make ends meet. But I'm not jealous of unionized workers who won a higher wage through hard struggle; they are my brothers and sisters, and I stand shoulder to shoulder with the strikers because I know that some day I'll be in the same situation and need their solidarity on my side. I'm trying to improve my own standard of living, not by tearing anyone down or trying to get on top of the dogpile, but by helping workers who decide to stand up, and by trying to organize my own co-workers to do the same.

The University and the media (read: DNT) would like everyone to think that these low-paid workers are greedy and unorganized, they have no support in the community, and the strike is having no impact. If you sympathize with folks like Bob Brunicks who make seven-figure incomes and run their business from cushy offices, or if you think it's a good idea to sell UMD workers, your future and your kids' future down the river, go ahead and rant about clerical, technical and health care workers should be thankful for what pittance they have. But if you have an ounce of symphathy for the little guy, at least post some messages of support for our neighbors on the picket line. (They can always use help on the lines or at Strike Headquarters as well. But crossing the picket line, for whatever reason, or asking others to do the same, is NOT supportive).

So, Duluth, which side are you on?


Who pays the strikers' wages? The Minnesota tax payers or the students through their tuition? Both?

Who pays the strikers' wages?

The same people who didn't complain when faculty and administration got a much higher percentage wage increase. The same people who don't care enough to ask to see where University money is going apart from wages. The same people who don't realize that money flows through that institution like water except when it comes to paying the hardest working segment of their workforce.

Non-union University employee here...got the 3.25% raise earlier.

What sucks is that many upper level employees on the Twin Cities get free parking ($80/month) and other benefits regular employees never see.

Same story all the place, the big boys get the goodies and smallest of the small get squat.

Oh - and the strike IS having an impact no matter what the U administration spins!

Does anyone know what benefits the workers will loose if they don't work at least one day every two weeks? Do they get free health insurance? Is that what they will loose? The UMD workers are some of the best and nicest people I've met. As for AFSCME it is a dirty rat and stinks to high heaven. They once caused some great nurses at SMDC to have a difficult time just because they attended another unions rally. Took the NLRB to straighten the AFSCME thugs out.

Anarchy, I think they'll lose they're health insurance but am not sure about they're other benefits. Employees at UMD DO NOT get free health insurance. My guess is that both parties will "meet at the table" on sunday and come to an agreement (last day b4 loss of benefits).

I'm non-union, but get the same wage increases as union employees.

BTW, Al Franken will be speaking at UMD tomorrow morning in support of the strikers; I think at 9 a.m but I can't remember where.

um.. meant "their"..

Sorry I forgot to put it in, but I think the rally is at St. Marie St. and University Ave., 9 AM tomorrow (Friday)

Thanks for the info Purple. I hope they can get back to work. We came within hours of a strike in this household and it scared the crap out of us. Like most working families we don't have that much to fall back on. Then if one looses health insurance and someone gets sick. Look what happened to the Northwest mechanics while CEO's were pocketing millions.

I would like to see the hardest working segment of the university get enough of a bump to cover inflation. For most of the workers, it is probably about $35 a week. I think the regents can part with the money.

I am a striking UMD worker. We were on the payroll for 2 days at the beginning of this two week pay period. The drop dead date for not having to pay the total cost of our insurance is to be working on Sept. 28. So far there is no hint of any talks to take place.

For the record: we get decent health benefits, a defined benefit retirement program, medical benefits for domestic partners, and free tuition for ourselves. At UMD we also get free transit on the DTA anytime, this translates to free transportation to work for me.

By being on strike I have already lost at least as much money as the difference between the 2.25% the University offered, and the 3.25% the Union thinks we should get. We'll likely be out at least another week, so I'll be out a lot more money than if we had accepted the University's offer. Feels kind of stupid to me.

I don't disagree that the pay packages for the administrators are inappropriate, but I do think that this strike was not the right tactic at the right time.

I repeat, I'm a member of AFSCME and I am on strike.

OK, you know that arts festival that UMD has put on each summer for the past three years or so, bringing in musicians from Italy, and this summer, Turkey, as well? Guess what? UMD pays all the expenses for these people -- airfare, meals, housing. The UMD students participating are not paid, they actually pay in order to take part!!!! It's regarded as an academic course for them. And this is the university that can't give its lower paid employees cost of living wage increases? I am disgusted that my tax dollars go to supporting Chancellor Kathryn Martin's delusions of grandeur. It's sad, too, because you know UMD is losing money on this project, the audiences are appreciative, but small, I don't know why. Maybe UMD should rethink paying these people to come from abroad, and focus more on taking care of its own students and its employees.

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