Showing posts with label united campus workers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label united campus workers. Show all posts

Sunday, August 12, 2018

New semester sees renewed effort by labor union to organize workers at University of Georgia and Georgia Gwinnett College

With the start of the fall semester, the United Campus Workers of Georgia is beginning its “living wage campaign” at the University of Georgia in Athens.

The implementation of new guidelines for the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) at UGA in 2016 was the impetus for starting the union organizing effort. According to UCWGA, over 3000 workers were affected negatively by UGA's administrators implementation of FLSA. 

Since then, the organizing campaign has taken on new issues affecting UGA employees.

On August 11, the labor union sponsored a Living Wage Picnic at the Bishop Park Pavilion in Athens.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage calculator for the state of Georgia and open records acquired by UCWGA, revealed that for UGA employees, annual salaries differ drastically among staff members. Service and maintenance workers may not always make a living wage.

The Red and Black newspaper reports that “other rights UCWGA has fought for include free parking for employees. The labor union held an event in June asking UGA to alter its parking pass system — previously, there was no free parking on campus, and all employees had to pay a maximum price of $40 per month for a spot that is not guaranteed to be in their desired location.”

This fall the university is offering a $10-per-month park-n-ride parking lot. The park-n-ride allows UGA employees and students to buy a parking pass and then take the campus bus to their desired location from 6:55 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.

UCWGA is part of the Communications Workers of America and is designated as CWA Organizing Local 3265. The local has expanded its efforts to include organizing workers at Georgia Gwinnett College

The efforts in Athens and in Gwinnett County may take on added interest as the Georgia Republican candidate for governor, Brian Kemp, is a graduate of UGA and continues to reside in the Athens area.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Athens Georgia Radio Station Refuses to Run Union-paid Advertising

United Campus Workers of Georgia are facing an uphill battle in just getting the right to be heard in their fight to unionize University of Georgia employees.

The latest is a report in the Athens Flagpole magazine stating that a radio station in Athens refused to run the organization’s ads stating that the “organization's objectives are not consistent with the free market principles on which our organization was founded.”  

UCW of Georgia is now chartered as CWA Organizing Local 3265 and is soliciting membership among University of Georgia employees. The local claims to now have approximately 100 members.

It appears that radio station is not that interested in the free market, as the union was willing to pay for the advertising time rather than asking for free airtime.

In a competitive free market, the radio station should have accepted the ads and the payment. Then, if it wished, it could solicit advertising that disputed the union’s efforts. Instead, it chose to ignore the marketplace and not accept the advertising.

As a result of its action, the radio station lost revenue and gave the group more publicity than if it had simply been willing to run the advertising charging its usual rates.

According to the news story, at least one local pharmacy, Hodgson’s Pharmacy, has pulled its ads from the station.

It would be wise for the radio station’s management to reconsider its refusal and allow a diversity of voices to be heard.

Ironically, the radio station calls itself, the Sound of Athens. It appears that it wants to be the voice for only a part of the Athens community.

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.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Anger over University of Georgia pay policy is creating an opening for organized labor at UGA

Resentment over how the University of Georgia has handled changes to its overtime policy has created an opening for United Campus Workers, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, who are helping UGA employees angered by the recent changes that slashed their take-home paychecks in December.

Problems began when UGA reclassified 3,000 of its employees from exempt to nonexempt to comply with changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was due to go into effect December 1.

Switching these employees from the university’s monthly payroll to a biweekly paycheck resulted in employees being paid for only half of month in November even though deductions such as health insurance premiums were taken for the full month leaving employees with very small paychecks prior to Christmas.

Employees have been quoted as complaining about struggling to cover their living expenses and needing to cash in vacation leave to make up for the shortfall. Many UGA staff have low salaries that make it difficult for them to save money for unexpected emergencies such as suddenly losing a half month’s pay.

While other Georgia public universities have needed to make similar classification changes, they have had a smoother transition. Georgia Tech has been repeatedly cited as an example on how the process should have been occurred.

The damage to morale at UGA, which was already low due to tight budgets, is creating an opportunity for a labor organizing effort.

Increasingly, labor unions are finding more success at organizing government workers than those in the private sector.

Nationally, public-sector workers have a union membership rate (35.2 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.7 percent).

UCW-CWA has been focused on campuses in Tennessee, but according to the Athens, Ga., Flagpole, one of its organizers, Tom Smith, is helping the University of Georgia employees survey their fellow workers on their views towards the change where 3,000 UGA employees were switched from monthly to biweekly paychecks.

Not surprisingly, most of the comments in the survey were negative, and it is likely UCW-CWA will see this as an opening to begin an underground organizing effort at UGA.

Complicating the situation, the new FLSA rule has been put on hold by a federal judge in Texas, meaning it is unclear whether UGA needs to reclassify the 3,000 employees, which is adding to staff confusion and uncertainty.

No doubt, UGA President Jere Morehead hopes that staff unhappiness will fade in the new year, since most employees’ annual pay will remain unchanged, and they will receive three paychecks during two of the next twelve months.

While the pay policies will eventually sort themselves out, the bad feelings will remain and give UCW-CWA an opening to begin quietly organizing UGA staff under the radar.