Strike would stall or stop many services

A strike by University workers would leave supervisors, students with extra work.

Jake Weyer

Eleanor Haase said she and a colleague each process eight to 10 international student applications in the University’s admissions office every day.

In the event of a strike by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800, the union representing 1,800 full-time University clerical workers, those applications might need to be processed by someone else, if at all.

Haase and her co-worker are both members of the union that could strike by Oct. 19. If a strike occurs, the University would struggle to continue normal operations.

AFSCME Local 3800 announced Friday that its members voted to reject the University’s contract and strike.

In Haase’s office, four employees process international applications – two are supervisors and two are AFSCME Local 3800 members. The supervisors would have to pick up the work in the event of a strike.

“These people would be left to do everything,” Haase said, “and that’s an awful lot.”

Haase said she reviews applications from international students, researches former schools students attended, refers applications for admission decisions, enters decisions in the computer system, notifies students and decides what credits will be accepted for transfer students.

She said that because of a new computer program, the admissions office is already behind, and the staff is not large enough to keep up.

“We have much more work to do than we’ve ever had before and less people to do it,” she said.

If Haase and her fellow union members strike, she said, students might not find out whether they have been accepted for longer periods of time. Students calling to check their application statuses might not get answers, she said.

Laura Mirelez, an admissions office employee and AFSCME Local 3800 member, said international application processing is not the only task that a strike could slow.

She said approximately 27 clerical employees work in the Office of Admissions. They process applications, calculate grade point averages and send mail, including acceptance letters, to students.

Mirelez said the office has already hired temporary employees because they are behind in their work because of the new computer system.

In some areas of the University, such as the bookstore, student employees might have to do extra work in place of striking workers.

“(Students) may have to learn a couple more things so they can do more of the tasks,” said Tivon Ransom, an employee in the Coffman Union bookstore and an AFSCME Local 3800 member.

Ransom said he helps people find books, takes Internet and phone orders, organizes bookshelves and does other customer service work. Fourteen AFSCME Local 3800 members work at the bookstore.

Susan Reinhart, a fourth-year English student and bookstore employee, said she works 18 hours per week and could not work any more. She said the bookstore would be impacted if a strike occurs.

“There would be less customer service, that’s for sure,” she said.

Of the seven people who work in the Bursar’s Office, five are AFSCME Local 3800 members, an office employee said.

Angela Stehr, principal administrative specialist at the Carlson School of Management’s Business Career Center, said she thought a strike would be difficult for her office.

Stehr handles food deliveries, scheduling, accounting, billing and reimbursement work. She also sets up materials for company representatives coming to the University to interview and recruit students.

“We have two front desks that are busy every day. We start greeting company representatives at 7:15 a.m.,” Stehr said.

U.S. News, Business Week and The Wall Street Journal all have yearly ranking surveys that need to be filled out in the fall for the University to be considered, Stehr said.

“That impacts the school and the University as a whole, what companies come and hire students, what students want to come here and what donors donate,” Stehr said.

Stehr said fall is a busy time for the Business Career Center.

“We don’t have a lot of wiggle room,” Stehr said. She also said she did not know who would do her work if she was not there.

“If (supervisors are) doing my work, there is other work that is not getting done,” Stehr said. “Some of it wouldn’t get done.”

– Jessica Weaver contributed to this report.