AFSCME fighting for better job future

The AFSCME workers are not just fighting to win back well-deserved pay raises.

There is currently much disagreement between the administration and those who support the strike. There is little consensus between the two sides about the exact numbers within the administration’s final offer, as the administration wants to include the step increases within the yearly increases, even though step increases are a means to reward and ensure loyalty and minimize job turnover.

I realize that for many undergraduate students, the job security and cost of living issues dear to the AFSCME workers seem a bit foreign. During my undergraduate years, if I didn’t like a job, I would think honestly about finding another. If you get paid little more than minimum wage to do a job, then employers don’t care to keep you, and you don’t care to stay.

But the support, medical and technical jobs at our University are not the same. Instead, these jobs require skill, in-depth knowledge of the institution as a whole and nuanced understandings of whichever department a person works in.

What the University is trying to do, however, is to make these integral jobs at the University more like the bad jobs I held as an 18-year-old, and not the kind of good job that can sustain an adult with mortgages, family and other long-term responsibilities.

Even though long-term employees are in the best interest of the University and larger community, the University administration is attempting to casualize these important jobs, as a short-term, cost-cutting device.

The AFSCME workers are not just fighting to win back well-deserved pay increases to fight back effects of inflation on their wages, they are fighting a larger fight about what sort of jobs this University provides. Do we want a university that provides living wages that can sustain long-term employees, their families and this community? Or do we want high-turnover jobs where employees feel underpaid, undervalued and un-invested in their work?

I urge all members of the University and larger community to support quality long-term jobs and show support to our valuable AFSCME workers on the picket lines.

Susan L. Kang is a Ph.D. candidate at the University. Please send comments to [email protected]