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University of Minnesota

January 25, 2010

University of Minnesota Workers and Students Rally to Demand Administration Chop from the Top

By Staff |http://www.fightbacknews.org/2010/1/23/university-minnesota-workers-and-students-rally-demand-u-administration-chop-top

January 23, 2010
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Union workers with AFSCME Local 3800 speaking and holding banners

Cherrene Horazuk: “It has been said and it bears repeating that the layoff of every single public employee in Minnesota would not make up the budget deficit. This problem requires a real solution. Further impoverishing working Minnesotans is not the answer and must be opposed.” (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN – More than 75 workers, students and community supporters rallied at Morrill Hall, the central administration building here, Jan. 21, to oppose attempts by President Bruininks and senior administrators to balance the budget on the backs of staff and students.

Cherrene Horazuk, chief steward of AFSCME Local 3800, the union that represents clerical workers, told the crowd, “We all know that we are living through the worst economic crisis this country has faced since the Great Depression. But we also all know that we – the working people of this country – did not create this crisis. Yet, when it comes time to discuss state budgets and university budgets, the people in charge want us to bear the burden.”

Horazuk continued, “It has been said and it bears repeating that the layoff of every single public employee in Minnesota would not make up the budget deficit. This problem requires a real solution. Further impoverishing working Minnesotans is not the answer and must be opposed.”

Phyllis Walker, president of AFSCME 3800, stated before the rally: “One of their plans is furlough days. President Bruininks told senior administrators that he intends to make staff take ten furlough days – unpaid days off – over the next year. This is a pay cut for hourly staff at the university and we can’t afford it. Pay and holidays are negotiated with the unions on campus and cannot be unilaterally dictated.”

Students also joined the noon protest. Grace Kelly of the University of Minnesota Students for a Democratic Society said, “This administration continues to make education unaffordable. Between 2000 and 2007, undergraduate tuition went up over 68%. The administration wants to pit students against staff by telling us it’s either tuition increases or layoffs. This is a false choice.”

Another speaker at the protest, Kim Defranco of the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout said, “As we know, corporations and banks have gotten bailed out but we haven’t. We have to suffer with more cuts and cutbacks. We are sick and tired of being the scapegoats for corporations, institutions and politicians when the economy is in crisis. Now we are all in this together, whether we are workers, staff, students, families, the poor, we need to stand and fight back together. We need to demand enough is enough! Together we are stronger.

AFSCME Local 3800, which is a part of the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout, is among the organizations that will be participating in rally at the State Capitol Building Feb. 4, the opening of the Minnesota legislative session. That protest will demand an end to layoffs of public employees, the extension of unemployment benefits, a moratorium on home foreclosures and taxes on the rich to balance the state budget.

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