UCW-CWA to Nashville: Workers didn't cause this crisis, cuts to workers won't fix it!
It goes without saying that many higher education employees simply could not afford such a pay reduction. In the 2009-2010 budget year UT and TBR paid some 5,000 employees salaries of less than $25,000 per year. Working people from across our state have borne the brunt of this "great recession," and despite some positive economic indicators working- and middle-class Tennesseans continue doing more work for less purchasing power. Already we are having to choose between buying groceries or paying our utilities, between paying our insurance premiums or our mortgages.
Average Tennesseans know that the General Assembly has numerous alternatives to the endless stream of cuts. The governor's revenue proposal is one such alternative, along with many others. Our state's "Rainy Day" Fund still has half a billion dollars in its reserves. Legislators in Nashville of both parties have an obligation to govern; we pay them salaries with public monies to meet these obligations. It is not acceptable to reject all solutions for short-term political gain.
We know that working people did not cause the economic meltdown on Wall Street or the ensuing revenue crisis in Nashville. You cannot squeeze blood from a turnip, and attempts to balance the budget on the backs of public workers will not solve the problems with Tennessee's economy. In fact study after study has shown that that the elimination of public programs and the destruction of public infrastructure, including colleges and universities, worsens the economy. Just ask the neighbor of a public worker what another home foreclosure will mean for their street. Ask the small business owner on the university strip what a 5% salary cut to the employees will mean for their summer business. Ask the foodbank volunteer if they can provide for another 5,000 folks when their reserves are already empty.
UCW-CWA will work non-stop to not only defend the interests of all higher education employees, but most importantly working Tennesseans who we proudly serve. Stay tuned in the hours ahead for updates and calls to action.