Local union leaders call for fair wages

Bruininks’ salary and tuition costs increase as middle-class income stagnates.

>In 1996, the president of the University of Minnesota earned $183,000 a year in salary. Today, the president of the University of Minnesota is being paid a salary of $384,000 a year. You may ask how the regents of the University can justify paying the president of a public land grant institution 210 percent more than the position commanded 10 years ago. But wait, there’s more.

The regents voted at their December 2006 meeting to increase President Bruininks’ salary by 17.5 percent over the next two years. In 2007-2008 his salary will increase to $423,000 (a 10 percent increase), and in 2008-2009 his salary will increase to $455,000 (a 7.5 percent increase). This does not include the long-term insurance policy and deferred compensation Bruininks has been awarded.

What about the frontline staff who keep the University operating? In the same 10-year period that the president’s salary has increased 210 percent, technical, clerical and health care workers have experienced general wage adjustments, averaging just 2 percent per year. These miniscule salary increases do not begin to keep pace with inflation and are moving us further and further into debt. 

What about the students whom this University is supposed to serve? For years tuition has been increasing at the University – over 83 percent in the last five years. It is becoming harder and harder for students to graduate in four years because they must spend more and more time working to try to offset the high cost of that tuition. The University is unable to provide affordable higher education for the citizens of the state, but has the money to reward a president with princely sums.

How can the regents justify outrageous salary increases? What kind of a university is the Bruininks Administration leaving for its employees and the community? What kind of leadership is it when tuition skyrockets at a time when middle-class income stagnates?

What kind of leadership do we have when University Administrators line their own pockets as inflation eats away the meager wage increases of the people they lead?

Ask the regents and President Bruininks to take our university off the corporate-giant path of profit-lines and high CEO pay, and return it to the land grant mission of educating the children of the people of the state of Minnesota.

Phyllis Walker, Rhonda Jennen, Barbara Bezat and Denise Osterholm are presidents of the AFSCME local unions here at the University. Please send comments to [email protected]