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IU Labor Studies Under Attack

Revised 5/22/05

IU Labor Studies Under Attack
May 21, 2005
Dear Union Sisters & Brothers, Colleagues & Friends,

Just this week, six employees of the Indiana University Division of Labor Studies were terminated: three faculty among them. The reason given was a budgetary crunch resulting from legislative cuts in our funding and university demands for increasing income annually. As you may know, a Republican governor and Republican control of both houses of the state legislature have made Indiana a very union unfriendly state. Public sector unions were thrown out of government agencies, a right to work law threatens on the horizon, and now the labor studies program has come under the knife.

A Democratic Governor and legislature had managed to take a line item in the state budget for a labor-management council and redirect the funds to labor studies. It was temporary—we did not know for how long—and we had over $350,000 for four years. The Director started adding staff and launched on-line classes which took off. He hired too many on what was only soft money, and also money was running out the door. Then came the cut by the Republicans, and op top of that, another cut in the IU budget, requiring a 10% reduction in spending in all departments. Suddenly we had a budget crisis, aggravated by the addition of the soft money allocation to our base budget, which drove up the “budgeted income” we would have to make.

Without consultation or discussion, the Director put together a new budget, his “RIF (reduction-in-force”) budget,” which called for the lay-off of six employees, three of whom are faculty—two, tenured track faculty.

He met with Budgetary Affairs Committee—appointed by the director—but they opposed his plan, and assembled an alternative budget proposal that included no faculty layoffs. The Director was shutting down the South Bend office and cutting the faculty staffing at Fort Wayne in half. The Director also began implementing his new plan before the IUPUI Faculty Budgetary Committee and the Vice Chancellor had accepted any DLS budget. He left messages for the secretaries and terminated Paul Mishler and Rae Sovereign at South Bend and Cathy Mulder at Fort Wayne. He has had to rescind the clerical lay-offs because he failed to notify the CWA representing the clerical at the NW campus, and in all instances, he failed to contact the Human Resource Departments on each campus.

Indiana University is a public university with a clear mission to serve constituencies in the state, especially under-served constituencies like adult working people. Increasingly public universities are functioning like private ones, forcing every unit to generate income above expenses, and setting budgets every year higher than the previous year’s income. It works like gain-sharing has worked in many workplaces—forcing workers to become ever more productive every year in order to surpass the rising standard.

And why wouldn’t universities feel the same pressure of corporate competitiveness and privatization? Not only were tenure-track faculty terminated, but part-time, temporary and less credentialed employees were kept. The decision on whom the ax would fall did not follow IU policy; it ignored seniority, credentials and faculty governance. Welcome to Wal Mart University!

We are asking you for letters of support for maintaining our regional offices that serve working people where they live and work, in this case, the South Bend and Fort Wayne offices. We are asking for support to reverse the arbitrary and discriminatory termination of Rae Sovereign, Paul Mishler and Cathy Mulder, three of our top faculty. Finally we ask for your support in opposing hiring and firing procedures that violate university academic policy, and that promote contingent, part-time jobs over fully-funded, skilled jobs. We cannot let WalMart become the model for universities as well.

Please send your letters in support of the Division of Labor Studies at Indiana University, to Executive Vice Chancellor & Dean of Faculties William M. Plater, IUPUI, Administration Building 108, 355 North Lansing Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202-2896. You may also e-mail him at [email protected] Please send me a copy, and also William Schneider, IUPUI AAUP, [email protected] Feel free to “cc” the chancellor as well, Chancellor Charles R. Bantz, in the same Administration Building.

In Solidarity, Ruth Needleman, professor of labor studies, [email protected]

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