President Essex's memo announcing plans to implement another round of RIFs (Reductions in Force) during the spring semester is very concerning. UCW-CWA has already begun fighting these layoffs. Below you can read the formal Open Records Request our union sent to Southwest administrators on November 29, 2010 and their response. As we receive documents uncovered by this request we will post them to the website.
State tax collections have exceeded expectations by over $60 million since July 1, 2010. Likewise last week the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Tennessee is one of 6 states accused of bending the rules by cutting higher education budgets too deeply while taking millions in State Maintenance of Effort funding. In both cases these funds could easily prevent any budget cuts to Southwest, offset the increased health insurance costs we face and provide a significant equal-dollar pay raise to all higher education employees. Additionally, the announcements of state funding for new building projects at community colleges across Tennessee make it clear that we do not face questions of resources, we face questions of priorities.
Layoffs began at the UT Health Science Center (UTHSC) in Memphis last Wednesday, August 11, 2010. The UTHSC has chosen not to use stimulus funds to save jobs and has instead chosen this very negative path.
Check out union leader Michelle Burrell, who is one of the terminated employees, speak out about this injustice and what UCW's demands are for rectification in the following video. Additionally, below the video is a letter sent from the union to UT President Jan Simek and UTHSC Chancellor Steve Schwab.