UMC strikers still on the line
University of Minnesota-Crookston clerical and technical workers who walked off their jobs in protest Wednesday still are walking the picket line. Despite trading Wednesday's shorts and T-shirts in for sweatshirts and fall jackets at their picket...
University of Minnesota-Crookston clerical and technical workers who walked off their jobs in protest Wednesday still are walking the picket line.
Despite trading Wednesday's shorts and T-shirts in for sweatshirts and fall jackets at their picket post near U.S. Highway 2, some strikers are prepared to stay on as long as it takes to reach what they deem an acceptable wage bargain with the U of M system, leader Angelika Hauglen said Monday.
The nine picketing workers make up one-quarter of the 36 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union members at UMC.
UMC Spokeswoman Krista Lemos said 11 AFSCME employees reported as on strike the first day, but two have since returned to work.
Hauglen called the two strikers' decision to return to work a personal one and said she did not fault them for it, saying that many of the strikers are single parents or otherwise very dependant on their wages.
Across the U of M system, about 750 out of 3,500 AFSCME employees picketed on the first day.
According to AFSCME, the university has offered to raise wages 2.25 percent per year for clerical and technical workers and 2.5 percent for health care workers - raises the union says wouldn't cover inflation.
The university says the increases actually are higher because they include step increases for years of service, according to the Associated Press. Looking at the wages that way, administrators argue, the offer would provide 94 percent of AFSCME employees with at least a 4.5 percent pay increase each year.
So far, Lemos said, UMC contingency plans to manage through the strike have been successful. Those plans mainly involve reassigning existing workers. She said the school has hired one temporary employee in its admissions office, where three workers are on strike.
Marks reports on higher education. Reach him at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or firstname.lastname@example.org .