Monday, January 22, 2018

United Campus Workers of Georgia @ University of Georgia affiliates with Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO

(Photo from The Red and Black)

The United Campus Workers of Georgia has been officially chartered by the Communications Workers of America (AFL-CIO) as UCW-GA / CWA Organizing Local 3265​.

According to its website:

“We at United Campus Workers of Georgia are striving to create a forum where all voices are heard and respected. We envision a broad alliance reaching every sector of the UGA workforce and call on all employees at UGA to band together to fight for the working conditions of all on campus.” 

On its website, UCW-GA has posted a Campus Workers Bill of Rights that includes:

1.       A living wage and just compensation: We have the right to a base salary high enough to provide for our families to live a decent life without reliance on governmental assistance or private charity, and to salaries that are equitable with wages paid at peer institutions and in private employment.
2.       Job protection: We have the right to jobs protected from the threat of privatization, outsourcing, and subcontracting. We have the right to employment that is not “at will,” and to not be terminated except for just cause.
3.       A Right to Organize: We have the right to organize labor unions; to official recognition of our union; and to the ability to “meet and confer” with officials at the departmental, institutional, and state levels on all issues of concern.  We have the right to freely conduct meetings on non-working hours; to petition for redress of grievances; to deduct dues from paychecks; and ultimately to bargain collectively in order to protect and advance our collective interests.
4.       Due Process: We have the right to a grievance procedure that includes the right to grieve all matters that can impact safety, evaluations, raises, transfers, layoffs, promotions, and disciplinary actions, and we have the right to representation of our choice at all levels.
5.       Non-discrimination: We have the right to a workplace free from harassment, exploitation, and discrimination. We have the right to receive fair and equal treatment, opportunities, pay, and benefits regardless of our religion, race, nationality, immigration history, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, disabilities, or political orientation. We have the right to equal pay for equal work.
6.       Adequate benefits: We have the right to guaranteed comprehensive health care; to an adequate retirement; to paid vacations and / or sabbaticals; to paid parental leave; and to tuition remission or adequate funding for educational opportunities for us and our families, including partner benefits.
7.       Safe Workplaces: We have the right to a safe and secure working environment with adequate training and the proper safety equipment necessary to perform our duties; to timely and effective corrective measures to our health and safety concerns; and to refuse dangerous work when proper safety precautions are not adequately met.
8.       Governance: We have the right to participate in determining the content and direction of the institution, including freely elected representation on governing bodies, and without fear of retaliation for expressing our views.
9.       Universal inclusion: All university employees, regardless of status or job classification, have the right to be treated equally with regard to all of these rights. Adjunct and contingent faculty especially have the right to work without exploitation and to be transitioned to real employment.

The creation of the UCW-GA follows the ongoing efforts to organize university workers in Tennessee, which has chapters on a number of campuses in Tennessee including UT-Knoxville.

In a news article published by The Red and Black, which claims to be the largest college newspaper in Georgia, the UCW-GA chapter reports that it has 70 members and “hopes to continue advocating for fair pay and benefits during this semester, starting with the State of the University address Wednesday, Jan. 24, where union members will be handing out postcards which state the organization’s platform.”

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Focus on job losses in Georgia's rural counties

The Georgia House Rural Development Council has released its plan to reverse declines in Georgia’s rural population.

Statewide, Georgia has seen remarkable employment growth since the recession. Following the combined loss of 329,000 jobs in 2008 and 2009, the state has added more than 670,000 jobs.

State of Georgia, QCEW Total Employment

Unfortunately, not all of Georgia’s 159 counties have fared so well. While for metro areas in the state, including Atlanta and Savannah, have done well, 10 years later 43 counties still show employment levels below those prior to the beginning of the recession.

While the continuing growth in the national and state’s economy will allow some of those 43 counties to finally grow above their pre-recession employment levels, for a few of the counties, the gap between pre-recession employment and current employment levels remains large.

Among those still suffering from the economic downturn, the counties of Ben Hill, Mitchell, and Murray are still showing net job losses of 25% or more 10 years later.

Employment in Ben Hill County has fallen by a net of 2,000 jobs, Mitchell County by 2,100, and Murray County by 3,200 jobs since 2007.

Ben Hill County, Ga., QCEW Total Employment
Mitchell County, Ga., QCEW Total Employment

Murray County, Ga., QCEW Total Employment

Losses in Construction and Manufacturing Key Indicators

For all three counties, job losses in construction and manufacturing have been major contributors to the overall decline in employment.

Manufacturing was a significant employer in all three rural counties. Ben Hill and Mitchell counties, located in rural South Georgia, have lost more than 1,100 manufacturing jobs each; while Murray County, located in North Georgia on the Tennessee border, has posted a 2,300 job decline in manufacturing.

In Ben Hill, construction employment has declined 75%, while the industry has recorded declines of more than 60% in Mitchell and Murray counties.

Not surprisingly, as jobs disappeared, people have moved to find more opportunities. While Georgia’s population continues to grow, the Census Bureau is estimating population drops in all three of these counties.

Growing Industries

Despite the overall declines in these counties, some industries have seen employment increases, although these have not been sufficient to stem the overall drops in jobs.

Ben Hill County has added a net 72 more jobs in natural resources and mining, while its professional and business services sector has grown by 165 jobs since 2007.

In Mitchell County, the leisure and hospitality sector has added 22 jobs over the past decade.

For Murray County, employment growth has centered on professional and business services, up by 382 jobs, while the leisure and hospitality industry has added 42 jobs.

Legislature wants to reverse this trend

Efforts by the counties alone are unlikely to repair the employment damage done by the past recession. Even state intervention may be inadequate as there are few successful models of rural rejuvenation in the U.S.

Nevertheless, Georgia’s lawmakers have at least identified the problem and the legislature is now looking for ways to reverse it, but this task will not be easy or quick.

Read the full recommendations from the House Rural Development Council here