Monday, October 1, 2007

Letter to state representatives

With the coincidence of the AFSCME settlement and the U's asking for more state money, several of us devised the following letter to our state representatives. Our purpose is to ask the legislature to make fair contracts a chief stipulation when granting the University public money.

Please consider sending a version of this letter to your state representatives. You can determine your district at: I have bracketed and italicized the language you would need to specify, amend, or strike
(e.g. the second paragraph conveys a more personal (and grad student-oriented) message).

If anyone would like to adapt this language for another audience/purpose (say the dministration or the Regents), please feel free. (We already have sent a different version to the Daily, which is pending.)

Thank you for help, and I hope this is a productive opportunity for expressing our continued solidarity with the workers and our frustrationwith the administration.

Kevin Riordan


[Date] 2007

Dear [Representative]

The University Administration recently refused to provide its AFSCME employees with a fair contract. Now—just days after the settlement —the administration is asking for an additional $22 million from the State with which to build new facilities. While the improvement of
facilities is important, I believe a university’s excellence is determined neither by its material expansion nor its corporate-styled prestige, but by the contributions of its dedicated community
members. Therefore when state money is allotted to the University equitable contracts for all its workers must be a paramount stipulation. I urge you to support the University by supporting the people who work here.

[I am committed to the University of Minnesota but in the last month many of my colleagues and I have become disillusioned and alienated: as teachers we’ve been threatened about our jobs; as students we have been inconvenienced, with some of the University’s most essential employees going on an unsuccessful strike; and as community members our solidarity with our colleagues has been disregarded.]

The administration is neglecting the very people who make the University function, and their callous message makes it difficult for us to believe in—or want to contribute to—the greatness of this institution. If the University is asking for additional funding, the
welfare of its workers should be its top priority; at the very least, the AFSCME workers should receive the 3.25-3.5% in cost of living adjustments. And the State Legislature—many of whose members publicly supported AFSCME—should demand that the University be accountable to its mission as a state institution: to serve its students, its workers, and its taxpayers.

I appreciate your consideration and I thank you for your support of the University of Minnesota.


[name, title]

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