Number of strikers disputed

The University reports 1,000 people on strike, while AFSCME reports up to 2,363 strikers.

Tom Moran

It appears the University and striking members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees can’t agree on much.

Among the disputes is the number of employees involved in the current strike.

The largest gap in the numbers reported by both groups is the number of union employees walking off the job.

University spokesman Dan Wolter said the University has gone without approximately 1,000 of the 3,150 union employees each day since the strike began Wednesday.

Each University unit employing union workers tabulates the number of missing staff each day, Wolter said in an e-mail.

Phyllis Walker, president of AFSCME Local 3800, said up to 2,363 employees could have stopped working for the University.

Not all members in AFSCME had the ability to vote on whether to strike Aug. 23. Members pay a fee in addition to union dues to acquire voting rights.

Officials are also disputing the number of members who have voting power.

The University believes 53 percent of members in the union have that ability, Wolter said.

Walker said the number of voting members is constantly changing but could be as much as 70 percent.

These reports constitute a difference of 535 employees having the right to vote.

Each set of numbers convey strikingly different stories.

According to the numbers reported by University officials, approximately 202 members who voted to strike have remained on the job.

However, numbers disclosed by the union show up to 775 members who either didn’t vote or voted against the strike have joined the effort.

Both sides feeling pressure

No matter which numbers are taken into account, it is apparent both sides are feeling strained.

Due to the strike, the University has reduced the workload of some departments and closed some offices.

The veterinary clinic is one of the departments hit hardest, Wolter said. It can accept only emergency calls until the strike abates because of the exceptional number of missing employees, he said.

Other areas of the University struggling to deal with the loss of workers are the dental clinic, Boynton Health Service and University Police Department 911 operators, Wolter said.

Some union employees are already feeling financial pressure from missing work. Many don’t join the picket lines because they are forced to find a second job or stay home to care for their children, Walker said.

Sarah Mansager, a sign language interpreter, said she has sought out secondary employment in the community due to the strike.

Even though it’s a large financial burden, Mansager said she is willing to strike indefinitely.

“It’s a morale issue,” Mansager said. “I couldn’t go back.”