Faculty, students voice support for U strikers
12 September 2007
|MINNEAPOLIS - University of Minnesota faculty and students Tuesday decried disruptions caused by the week-old strike by AFSCME workers and demanded the university come back to the table with a fair wage offer.
|"Not only is this strike a disruption from a moral and political perspective, but I have students who are unable to add my class because staff that would normally process the paperwork are absent," History Professor Anna Clark said at a news conference.
She went on to report that 152 classes, involving more than 4,000 students, are being held off campus so that instructors and students can honor picket lines.
Clerical, technical and health care workers represented by AFSCME Locals 3260, 3800, 3801 and 3937 walked off the job Sept. 5 after rejecting a university offer that fails to keep pace with inflation and increases the gap between their pay and other university employees and top administrators.
Five hundred students attended a "Teach Out in Support of AFSCME Workers" held at the Oak Street Theatre Tuesday; a second "Teach Out" is scheduled Wednesday.
University freshman Sofi Shank said, "I am trying to get oriented to the university and instead of focusing on my classes, I am forced to choose between going to class and violating my principles by being asked to cross a picket line."
The Minnesota Daily student newspaper quoted university spokesman Dan Wolters as saying, "The veterinary clinic is one of the departments hit hardest. It can accept only emergency calls until the strike abates because of the exceptional number of missing employees." Other areas of the university struggling to deal with the loss of staff are the dental clinic, Boynton Health Service and University Police Department 911 operators, Wolters told the Daily.
Disability Services reports that at least 17 classes are without disability accommodation because of the strike, possibly putting the university into a non-compliant status under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, networking and telecommunications is extremely shorthanded and is having difficulty managing trouble tickets, the regular daily calls for technology repairs, the union reported.
Jess Sundin, an AFSCME striker from the Physiology Department, said, "It is unacceptable that the university is allowing the education of our students to be disrupted. We really want to go back to work because we care about the education of our students, and we love working with them. The university has the responsibility to come to the table with the money that the Legislature allocated for our salaries. We value our jobs and expect the university to value them, too."
Strike supporters plan a Solidarity march Wednesday, starting at noon in front of Willey Hall on the West Bank of the Minneapolis campus. Participants will march across the Washington Avenue Bridge at 12:30 p.m., then converge with striking workers on the east end of the Washington Avenue Bridge for a brief rally.
Go to the Workday Minnesota special section on the strike
View video coverage
For more information
Visit the unions' websites, www.afscme3800.org, www.afscme3937.org, www.afscmemn.org and www.d.umn.edu/~afscme/
To provide support, see www.uworkers.org and www.afscmemn.org
For information from the U of M Office of Human Resources, http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/er/negotiations/afscmeproposal.html