Thursday, December 25, 2014

UWS Chancellor's actions speak louder than her words

Below is a letter to the editor that the union that represents the UWS custodians and grounds crew sent to the BusinessNorth newspaper.

Dear Editor,

“We believe that when we partner with our communities, it’s a win-win situation.”  If only UWS Chancellor Renee Wachter’s words in a Dec. 18 BusinessNorth article could be believed.  

Sadly, her actions speak louder than words.  Outsourcing the jobs of 27 front-line employees to an out-of-state contractor paying poverty wages has nothing to do with local partnerships.  Her actions ignore public pleas from the Superior community and its elected officials to find a better way to deal with budget problems caused by declining state support for higher education.
The city of Superior, Douglas County and local state legislators all went on record against Wachter’s budget plan to impoverish front-line workers while leaving unscathed her own lavish pay.  We thank these locally elected officials for truly representing their community and its values.

Far from partnering with the Superior community, Wachter is carrying out the agenda of UW System Pres. Ray Cross and their downstate political masters, who in turn do the bidding of distant billionaire CEOs.  That agenda, quite clearly, is to relentlessly push down the earning ability of front-line workers in order to pay for other priorities, such as raises for chancellors and tax cuts for the rich.

The UWS employees now being laid off are being told they can re-apply to work for a contractor that will pay $8 an hour with virtually no benefits.  Apparently $12 an hour was just too much to pay dedicated employees – many of them military veterans -- with decades of experience.

Far from the chancellor’s pabulum about helping the community thrive, UWS is now engaged in balancing its budget on the backs of its lowest paid employees.  This certainly doesn’t help the community or the local businesses where these former employees shopped.  But don’t expect the chancellor and her elite staff to notice.  They’re too busy pulling up the ladder from the top of their ivory tower.

Marty Beil, executive director
Wisconsin State Employees Union, AFSCME Council 24

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