Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tactical legal victory in Wisconsin

A Wisconsin judge has ruled that the Republican controlled state legislature violated the state's open meeting law when it gutted the pensions and collective bargaining rights of state employees.

This is by no means a final defeat for the Republican plan: the state's supreme court may overturn this lower court ruling, and the legislature could pass the law again even if the courts do invalidate their first action. But it is a pretty clear indication of the lengths to which opponents of public employee labor unions are willing to go to attack unions.

We are part of a big fight on the national and state level that will have a tremendous impact on the status of our jobs. We are lucky to be allied with a union (IEA/NEA) that retains some power on the state and national level. They will have more power if you join them. If you're a tenured or tenure-track faculty member click here for information on how to do so.  (You won't even have to pay dues until September.)

Pensions under threat

[Update: Both Carbondale area representatives, Assemblyman Bost and Senator Leuchtefeld, oppose this bill, according to the folks at their offices I just talked to.  That doesn't mean that calling them won't help--the more opposition they can cite the better. It may mean that those of you who live outside Carbondale should be particularly quick to call your representatives; the bill apparently has democratic support.]

Kristi Brown and Jonathan Bean have the details. It looks like not even clear language in the state constitution can stop our legislators from reducing our pensions to Social Security. This when, of course, one reason people accept the low wages from the state government is because of their traditionally generous pension plans. Here's IEA president Ken Swanson's appeal for NEA members to make calls.  They provide a toll free number to help (and I'm sure they won't be checking to see if you've paid your dues before hooking you up with your legislators).

If you live in the Carbondale area, contact Leuchtefeld and Bost and urge them to oppose this move--it's SB 512.  If you prefer email, here is the email for Bost (Leuchtefeld doesn't provide an address readily on his webpage): .

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If you build it, they will come?

Indoor groundbreaking for the track & field complex.
The new $3.96 million track & field complex is now under construction, as part of the grand Saluki Way program. The track & field construction is related to the plan to build a new Student Services building where the parking deck is now; the first phase of construction of the new Student Services building (basically reallocation of parking to compensate for spaces lost when the parking deck goes down) is now under way.

Math whizzes in the audience will note that the $4.0 million to be spent on the track & field complex is rather more than the $2.6 in planned savings for furloughs this past year. Throw in the student center expenses, and you'd probably have enough to avoid furloughs next year as well.