Key lawmakers call on U to settle strike
By Barb Kucera, Workday editor 13 September 2007
|ST. PAUL - The chairs of two key legislative committees for higher education stepped up pressure this week for a fair settlement of the University of Minnesota strike. With video!
|In letters to University President Robert Bruininks and in interviews with Workday Minnesota, state Representatives Mary Murphy and Tom Rukavina asserted the Legislature approved a funding increase to provide a fair pay raise for the striking AFSCME clerical, technical and health care workers.
Murphy chairs the Education Finance and Economic Competitiveness Finance Division of the Minnesota House. Rukavina chairs the Higher Education and Workforce Development Policy and Finance Division. The two committees determine the university's budget appropriation every two years.
During the 2007 session, "I did a lot of cooperating with the university," stated Rukavina, DFL-Virginia. "I'm not going to be too happy if I see the typists and the receptionists getting hosed."
The Legislature increased university funding by 12 percent for the next two years, the lawmakers said.
"We knew that negotiations were up and the salaries have to keep up with other costs at the university and we gave a very strong funding bill to the university with the anticipation that it would go for tuition and salaries and that they would be distributed fairly across the system with all employee groups," said Murphy, DFL-Hermantown.
Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, a member of the Higher Education Finance Committee, said it's not possible that university administrators could have misconstrued the purpose of the funding increase.
"We passed a comprehensive package that should help students and help the working people at the University of Minnesota," he said. "The University of Minnesota understands we passed that package with the intent that working people should make a good living and our students should get a good education that doesn't put them into the poorhouse."
View the video interviews with Rukavina, Murphy and Mahoney
Howard Kling, videographer