Entire U could feel strike’s fallout

by Jessica Weaver

If the University’s largest employee union goes on strike, it could impact students, professors and police.

On Friday, officials from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800 said the union voted to reject the University’s contract offer and approve a strike.

While students said a strike would inconvenience them, their opinions about a strike are mixed, and although University police would not necessarily increase forces if a strike occurred, they would still be impacted, officials said.

Students might end up attending class at off-campus locations to avoid picket lines.

“I personally would not cross picket lines. I would hold classes off campus,” German professor Jack Zipes said.

In the event of a strike, Zipes said, he would hold classes in locations close to campus, such as the University Baptist Church, which has agreed to serve as alternate locations for classes.

But whether on or off campus, a strike will not prevent some University students from attending class.

“I would have sympathy for (AFSCME Local 3800 workers), but I can’t stop going to class because of it,” chemical engineering sophomore Andrea Eckberg said.

Other students echoed Eckberg and said they would still go to class despite a strike.

“I guess it would just be more of a hassle to get things done,” said Derek Ellingson, a business management and mass communications senior.

Kristina Boraas, a first-year liberal arts student who works with some AFSCME Local 3800 workers, said the impact of a strike might be worth it.

“I think (a strike) would be really disruptive because I see the impact (clerical workers) make at work,” Boraas said. She said some people she works with might strike. “I want to avoid a strike, but I would want (AFSCME Local 3800 workers) to get a fair deal.”

History professor Lisa Norling said a strike’s impact might be necessary to make a point.

“I think (a strike) would make life very difficult for every one at the University, but would make the point that their work is crucial at the University,” Norling said.

In light of rising tuition and across-the-board budget cuts, some students are concerned about the impact a strike would have on them.

“I don’t think the University should compromise too much. All of faculty, staff and students are compromising. Everyone’s having a tough time,” said Oana Lungu, a biochemistry junior.

Some student groups are backing AFSCME Local 3800 and strike efforts. Members of AFSCME Graduate Student Supporters, the Socialist Alternative and the University DFL are prepared to picket with the union.

“I completely support the workers because I feel the huge increase in health-care costs and the termination of step increases is unacceptable,” said Brent Perry, a biochemistry junior and member of the Socialist Alternative.

Perry said the group has circulated a petition to support AFSCME Local 3800 employees and passed out leaflets. Members also marched at the Sept. 30 AFSCME Local 3800 rally. Perry said he does not know if he will go to class if a strike were to occur.

University police said they would not need to increase forces to handle a strike. Police will enforce rules preventing people from blocking public streets and blocking people coming in and out of University exits, University police Capt. Steve Johnson said.

Although picketers who commit crimes could be ticketed or charged, police will first try to gain compliance, said Greg Hestness, assistant vice president for public safety.