Saturday, September 08, 2007

my friends kick ass

This is only a small example of the inumerable ways in which my friend Wendy is so awesome...

Striking UMM workers prepared for second week of pay protest

University of Minnesota, Morris clerical and t
echnical workers will “recharge our batteries” over the weekend and be back on picket lines Monday if necessary, said a campus union leader on Friday.

The UMM workers were on strike for a third day Friday, and will take the weekend off with plans to return Monday in their protest for higher pay from the University of Minnesota, said Laura Thielke, lead steward of the UMM clerical workers’ union.

(That's my girl, front and center, in her red ballcap.)

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees workers began striking

At UMM, strikers
rallied briefly on the campus mall late Thursday morning to hear several speakers and listen to music by AFSCME member Tim Ray, a UMM employee, before returning to picket at campus entry points.

“We really think we’re doing the right thing,” Thielke said Thursday. “We know a lot of people in Morris think we have really great jobs and that we shouldn’t complain. But we want to really keep great wages in this town for people who come after us.”

The AFSCME union, which represents about 74 UMM employees, filed an intent to strike notice on behalf of its workers on four University of Minnesota campuses in late August after an overwhelming vote to reject the university’s latest offer.

(Here she is again. She looks bored, but trust me...she's fired up. She's actually just a bit beaten down by spending ten hours picketing in 95-degree heat.)

The university’s offer of pay raises of 2.25 percent for clerical and technical employees, and 2.5 percent for health care employees was rejected by what the union said was a 72 percent no vote.

Negotiations broke off about 11 p.m. Tuesday after a marathon day of bargaining. The union represents about 3,500 workers — about 17 percent of the employees in the University of Minnesota system statewide.

Thielke said the disparity between the salaries of administration and workers is a key element to the strike.

Ray, who befriended Minnesota legislator Tom Rukavina when Ray lived and taught in northern Minnesota, said he had a phone conversation with the lawmaker about the situation.

Ray reported that Rukavina said, “let there be no doubt” that the Legislature appropriated a 3.25 percent pay increase “across the board” when it passed the U of M’s appropriation.

Wendy Hyatt, a UMM employee, invoked the name of human rights activist Cesar Chavez at the rally. She noted that Chavez, who has a UMM street named for him, promoted the importance of unions and the importance of working people throughout his adult life.

“We’re not doing this for ourselves,” Hyatt said, “we’re doing this for all workers.”

UMM employee Darla Hennen said a strike is a stressful event in her life,
especially financially. But it’s a way for her to show her children what is of true value.

“I thought long and hard,” Hennen said. “I can’t afford this (a strike). But I was hired as a union employee and I have to support that because that’s who’ll support me down the road.”

(And here we have the back of her head...kicking ass and standing up to The Man as only backs of heads can do.)

Striking AFSCME workers set up pickets at each of the entrances to UMM on Wednesday morning and were back at them on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Guyotte released a memo from Johnson, which stated that each AFSCME member will make the decision to strike based on their particular situation, and she asked the campus community to “respect each person’s decision and treat each other in a cordial manner as we navigate through this difficult time.”

No talks between the union and administration are pending, Thielke said.

Hang in there, my dear. Your friends are with you in spirit and we're proud of you.

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Anonymous wendy said...

wow, thanks! you are the bestest friend ever. and for me to be quoted in the Morris Sun Tribune...well, it's almost as good as the New York Times... :)

2:45 PM  
Anonymous wendy said...

oh, and that is Argie in the black tanktop thing in the "bored" pic.

2:48 PM  

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