University of Minnesota Rallies for Education Rights March 4
Minneapolis, MN – About 500 union members, students, and faculty, came together for a spirited rally and march here, March 4. Organized by the Chop From The Top Coalition and the Save Our School Campaign, protesters first gathered at the central administration building, Morrill Hall, where Phyllis Walker, president of AFSCME Local 3800 was among those who addressed the crowd.
Walker said, “While the budget for public education gets slashed, over 250 administrators at the University of Minnesota earn more than $200,000 per year. Increasing layoffs and threatened furloughs reduce vital services for students. Furloughs are a pay cut, and front line staff are already struggling to get by.” When her speech ended, the chant, “Chop from the top” went up from the crowd.
Students were well represented at the protest. “The tuition increases, up 134% since 2000, put students into massive debt, taking on extra jobs during school and treat education as a consumer item,” said Tracy Molm of the University of Minnesota Students for a Democratic Society.
After the rally at Morrill Hall, participants marched to Coffman Union where Linden Gawboy, of the Minnesota Coalition for a Peoples Bailout spoke, “We did not cause this crisis. The super rich and greedy bankers are to blame.” She added, “We don’t see them going homeless. Their kids can afford tuition. They could take a ten-year furlough and still be richer than we will ever be. But they are whispering in the ears of the politicians saying we have to cut back.” Members of the Coalition also distributed flyers from the Network to Fight for Economic Justice urging support for Tuscaloosa bus drivers.
Also speaking at Coffman Union was Jess Sudin of AFSCME local 3800, who stated, “There’s a simple way to balance the University budget and preserve public education: Furlough the administrators, not faculty and staff. Lay off the fancy dinners, instead of front-line workers. Across the board, it’s time to chop from the top.”
Sundin continued, “Along with the University of California students confronting our old nemesis Mark Yudof, or the bus drivers on strike at the University of Alabama, we need to stand united. Public education is under attack – what we do? Stand up, fight back!”
Summing up the day, Cherrene Horazuk, of AFSCME 3800 told Fight Back!, “Today is a real victory. We have brought together students, workers and faculty to say no to layoffs, furloughs and tuition hikes. We will resist any attempts to shift the burden of the economic crisis onto our backs.”