Loyal work wrongly deemed worthless

The value of AFSCME to the success of the University’s mission could not be greater.

University administrators have the contract that they wanted with their American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees workers. Very simply, it says AFSCME jobs are worthless. Not just one job or some, but all of them. They are worth less today than yesterday and they will be worth less tomorrow than today. Nevermind that the value of these jobs to the success of the University’s mission never has been greater. Nevermind that the quality and quantity of work done by AFSCME employees never has been questioned. Nevermind the loyalty and dedication shown every single day by these employees. University administrators have decided these jobs and the people who do them are worthless. Again, this is the contract they continuously and consistently call “fair and equitable.”

All University employees are required to obey University policies. This is so important to the University that in 2002 the Office of Institutional Compliance was established as a place where people could report concerns about possible violations of policies. The mother of all policies at the University is the regents code of conduct, which requires all employees to be honest, trustworthy and responsible, show respect and fairness in dealing with others and maintain the highest of ethical standards.

University administrators are employees. How is it, then, that these administrators, guided by the highest of ethical standards, can look at nearly 3,000 workers, people who are already among the lowest-paid employees at the University, who saw their jobs devalued by the last contract, who were hurt the most by the wage freeze two years ago, who can least afford the health care cost-shifting that has occurred, whose jobs are undeniably as valuable today as they ever were and say we (the University) need to devalue these jobs more and make things even worse for AFSCME workers? What “highest of ethical standards” are we talking about? Might makes right? The end justifies the means? Of course, University administrators would deny all of this. They would say, and are saying, this contract is fair and equitable. Their claim is simply absurd and clearly unjustifiable. It adds real insult to real injury. Injury and insult are violations of the regents code of conduct, are they not? Are University administrators leading by example or just resorting to “do as we say, not as we do?”

For AFSCME workers, fair and equitable begins with restoring the lost value that has been bled from their jobs by University administrators.

I have raised these concerns with the Office of Institutional Compliance and I await its reply. In this topsy-turvy world in which we live, where down and backward are the ways up and forward, where giving up our liberties is the way to secure them, where fighting a war with no foreseeable end is the way to peace and where, even at an “institution of higher learning,” wrong so easily becomes right, what do you suppose the reply will be?

Greg Knoblauch is a senior veterinary technician. Please send comments to [email protected]