Workers Celebrate Step Toward Living Wage at UT

After thirteen years of calling on the University of Tennessee to seriously tackle the problem of poverty wages on its campuses, members of United Campus Workers, the union of staff and faculty at the state’s public colleges and universities, are cautiously celebrating. Today, UT agreed to raise its base pay to $9.50/hour for all full and part time regular employees by June 2014.

UCW Members Beef Up Their Organizing Skills at Training in Mississippi

UCWs members took part in a unique, concentrated organizing training held in Jackson, MS in mid-October. Joining together with dozens of public workers from other CWA locals from Mississippi, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and California, the participants learned about and then practiced principles of union organizing, including how to talk to coworkers and move them to action.

"The OI was a great opportunity to learn new organizing skills and to get to know other union member activists from across the country," said Melanie Barron, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Geography at UT Knoxville. "I have a better understanding of the importance of building genuine, solid relationships with my coworkers as I’m organizing on the job, and I feel emboldened and ready to make our union stronger—one member at a time."

Health insurance for University of Memphis graduate assistants

University of Memphis graduate assistants have launched a campaign for funded health insurance. You can support their efforts here.



Statement on U of M Budget Gap

Over the past several weeks we all have received a number of emails from the administration, and are likely hearing more from the media, our supervisors, colleagues, and friends concerning the purported $20+ million budget gap our university is facing. In response to this disconcerting budgetary situation, our new administration is strongly recommending "responsibility centered management" and an overall administrative and organizing restructuring.

As our union’s organizing committee said in a letter many faculty received this week, the speculative restructuring we have been hearing about speaks clearly to many of us as a deliberate move towards the privatization of our public institution. This application of a corporate model to our university not only threatens the security of our employment but also the quality and cost of the “product” we offer (education) and the experience and outcome of our target “consumer” (the student). At the end of the day, no amount of “right-sizing,” “cost-cutting,” “effectiveness and efficiency” will replace honest-to-goodness public investment in the future of our state through robust expenditures on public education.

Policy In-Depth: Tennessee legislature makes drastic changes to the state’s pension system

Policy In-Depth: Tennessee legislature makes drastic changes to the state’s pension system

On April 24, 2013, Governor Haslam signed into law the “Hybrid Retirement Plan for State Employees and Teachers.” The House voted 71-16 to adopt the Senate’s version of the proposal (SB1005). The pension bill, drafted by State Treasurer David Lillard, creates a new pension plan for those state employees – including higher education employees – and teachers hired after June 30, 2014. These new hires will not enjoy a guaranteed defined benefit that current workers do. Their hybrid program has a small defined benefit and a defined contribution savings program. The employer contribution in the new plan will be set at 9%, with 4% going to the defined benefit and 5% to the defined contribution.

Missy Murray addresses the crowd during the speakout.
Missy Murray addresses the crowd during the speakout.

May 1st Speakout a Great Success!

Thanks to all who came out to the "Justice for UT Custodians Speakout", which was held on May 1, 2013.  Close to 100 community members, UT employees, and students came to the UC Shiloh room to hear UT custodians speak on the mistreatment and abuse experienced by a broad section of the Building Services department.  The event garnered significant media attention from every Knoxville area media outlet.

Media Advisory- University of Tennessee Custodians Fight Back Against Harassment, Abuse

University of Tennessee, Knoxville-  On Wednesday, May 1st, at 3 pm, custodians from UT's Building Services Department will host an open forum for the community to hear about abuses and and systematic mistreatment, which has led to close to a 50% turnover rate since January of 2012.  The event will be in the UTK University Center's Shiloh Room (Directions can be found HERE), and will detail a long list of common grievances of some of the University's lowest- paid, hardest working employees-  including verbal abuse, retaliatory transfers, and unsafe working conditions-  that have become endemic over the past year.  It is organized by United Campus Workers (UCW), the 1,400 member union of staff and faculty in Tennessee's public higher education systems.


Higher Education Employees Emphasize Risk to Taxpayers with Pension “Reform”

As Senate Bill 1005 and House Bill 948 go up for another committee vote Tuesday, March 26, higher education employees question the full cost analysis and the potential risk that this “reform” may cost taxpayers more in the long run, not less.

UCW members communicate the other side of "pension reform"

After meeting with over 50 Tennessee legislators at our March 12 Lobby Day, UCW sends important information on the other side of proposed "pension reform" to *all* legislators today.

Higher Education Employees Question "Pension Reform" Proposal


Knoxville, TN-  Following yesterday's proposal by state treasurer David Lillard to radically change Tennessee's state pension system, members of United Campus Workers, the union of public higher education staff and faculty across Tennessee, are demanding that the state not betray its promise to workers who have dedicated their lives to public service.