Update: U of Memphis Admin Suspends Plan to Privatize Adjunct and Temp Worker Social Security

IB ImageIn an email at 3:58pm on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 Maria Alam, University of Memphis AVP/Chief HR Officer announced that the university was suspending its plan to remove adjuncts and temporary staff from Social Security. United Campus Workers – CWA welcomes the administration’s decision to suspend their efforts to force adjunct faculty and temporary staff into a Social Security Alternative Retirement Plan. Implementing such a plan would cause real, irreparable harm to our nation’s Social Security program and campus employees. UCW-CWA will continue in its role as watchdog in the coming weeks to help safeguard our seniors and the benefits and working conditions of campus employees.

You can read our original Press Release here. You can read the university's email announcement below.

Press Release: University of Memphis Lays off Workers 6 Days before Christmas to Dodge Social Security

Memphis, TN - On Tuesday, December 9th, the University of Memphis sent a memo to its temporary employees informing them that in lieu of Social Security coverage, they would be enrolled in a Federal Insurance Contributions (FICA) alternative plan. FICA alternative plans were created in 1990 by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Bill, which allowed public employers to enroll temporary, seasonal employees in them. In order to ensure employees meet this status, the university plans to fire these workers on December 19th, force them to reapply for their jobs and rehire them next year without Social Security benefits. Workers were surprised to see this cut in retirement benefits presented as a positive change.

Documents: University of Memphis Competing Teacher Training Program

Through requests under Tennessee's open records laws, United Campus Workers - CWA has received previously unpublished documents pertaining to the competing teacher training program in partnership with Relay GSE. UCW-CWA has published these documents as a service to the campus community and others who are interested in the spirit of ongoing and open discourse. The union hopes that the University will provide a full disclosure of all the details of this project, including the most recent drafts of its conceptual framework and ongoing communications with Relay, the university administration and other partners so that informed judgments on the proposed program's impact can be made.

For more information on see coverage of these issues published by the Memphis Commercial Appeal here: "U of M faculty voice fears about competing teacher training program"

Job Announcement: Membership Services Coordinator

To apply, send resumes to All resumes must be received by December 31, 2015. Full text of job posting is available after the jump.

PRESS RELEASE: Governor Haslam Presents False Choices in Budget Hearings

Put the People First, Governor Haslam: Education and Healthcare are Both Critical to Tennessee
Last week, amidst growing speculation that he will run for President, Governor Haslam held his annual budget hearings with officials from state agencies and higher education. Throughout the week, and in an interview with Nashville Public Radio, Governor Haslam argued that our state has to choose between providing affordable healthcare or quality, public higher education to Tennesseans.


Workers at University of Memphis win critical step towards Living Wage

Campus workers join fast food strikes demanding $15 and a union May 15, 2014
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Shortly after 9:30am Monday morning, October 20, 2014 in an email to all staff and faculty University of Memphis President M. David Rudd announced the university "has requested Tennessee Board of Regents’ approval to increase the minimum salary for all employees in regular, benefits-eligible positions to $10.10 per hour, effective January 2015." When approved the base pay raise will represent a 14% increase for the lowest paid employees. (Full text of President Rudd's announcement is available below.) This most welcome news comes four years after campus workers launched a living wage campaign and organizing drive to build their union United Campus Workers, and is the latest in an ever growing list of victories for the movement to win living wages for workers on university campuses, at fast food restaurants, in home healthcare work, and many other sectors of the economy. 

"When I heard about the President's announcement I couldn't help but screaming. I was standing in my house and started yelling 'WE ARE WINNING," explained longtime University of Memphis custodian and UCW Vice President Thelma Jean Rimmer. "Many of my coworkers believed this could never happen. We have worked so hard, and this isn't over. But today is a good day, and I see what we can do."

#PeopleFirstBudget: Selfies for a living wage

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Without campus workers, our campus wouldn’t work—but that reality isn’t reflected in the budget. Despite the fact that thousands of us public higher education employees across Tennessee make less than a living wage, and many more of us make right around it, while all of our wages and salaries fall far below that of our peer institutions, we aren’t a priority for state spending. Tuition and fees are going up on our students; buildings are getting built all around our campus; but our wages—well, they’re right where they’ve been for a while. It's been nearly two years since we saw any increase in our wages. That’s why we’re taking action. We’re calling for a budget that puts the people first.

Governor Haslam cuts promised pay raises, higher education funding

Sadly, this is not an April fool’s message...

Yesterday afternoon Gov. Haslam axed your raise, and slashed much needed funds for higher education.

“Despite assurances that higher education would be fully funded, that real resources would couple the ‘Drive to 55’ rhetoric, and that Tennessee would lead the country in improving salaries for educators, once again our governor has failed to make good on his promises,” said Tom Anderson, UCW-CWA President and UT Knoxville Facilities Services employee. “It’s the saddest of ironies that his budget amendment comes the same day we learn that he and his staff used a $300 million slush fund to bully Volkswagen workers rights.”

University of Memphis Presidential Search: submit your candidate evaluations today!

The University of Memphis presidential search proceedings are well underway and continue to move quickly. The presidential candidates' visits to campus finished this morning. Now we have until 5:00 tomorrow, Wednesday March 26th, to fill out the online evaluation forms for the candidates:

Guy Bailey Professor / Former President  University of Alabama    Sharon Gaber Provost / Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs University of Arkansas    George W. Hynd Provost / Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs College of Charleston    David Rudd Provost University of Memphis