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U of MN unions hold their own hearing on budget after regents cancel public testimony

By staff

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Minneapolis, MN – A row of chairs reserved for the University of Minnesota Board of Regents sat empty while university unions held their own public hearing on university budget, June 8.

Each June, the University of Minnesota budget proposal is presented to the board of regents at a public hearing. It is the one time each year when faculty, staff and students testify to advocate for their needs and the importance of investing a portion of the budget to benefit their campus community. This year the regents canceled the hearing. The administration presented a budget that short-changed university workers, by allocating a mere 2% for compensation increases.

Cherrene Horazuk of AFSCME Local 3800 said, “This year, the one opportunity for university stakeholders to testify and speak directly to the regents was eliminated. The current administration has been embroiled in scandal after scandal, spending university resources to clean up their mess. Now they’re shutting down an opportunity to hold them accountable.”

Horazuk continued, “Union workers at the U are currently in contract negotiations. The administration presented the regents a budget that does not include adequate cost of living increases for our members, at the same time they raise student tuition and increase debt to astronomical levels. We are not interested in the tired story that there is no money for the core institution while they find cash to pay high administrator salaries, lawsuit settlements and legal fees.”

Nicole Masika, a member of the executive board of AFSCME Local 3937, told the crowd, “Working at the U has brought me to the edge of bankruptcy.” Masika also pointed out that the university has made money, $29 million since 2002, off the employee medical and dental insurance plans.

Mick Kelly, a member of the Teamster 320 negotiating committee said that the university was “awash with money” and that now is the time to press for a major pay increase.

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