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The Daily Tar Heel

Op-ed: An open letter to Board of Governors from UE 150

To the Board of Governors of the UNC System,

Public university workers across the state of North Carolina are standing up and fighting back. In spite of the fact that North Carolina is one of a handful of states nationwide that bans public sector collective bargaining, workers have been joining together and organizing to further their demands in record numbers. Though our demands across the UNC System are many, we will summarize our core demands in this letter.

Housekeepers at UNC-Chapel Hill have amassed over 2,200 signatures on their petition for:

  1. a $20/hr minimum wage, and
  2. an end to parking fees on campus.

UNC recently modified the pay structure and gave housekeepers a 90 cent raise. However, they gave higher raises and bonuses to housekeeping management. This raise is not enough, and leaves the housekeepers’ demands unmet. Now, housekeepers at other UNC System universities have joined in the call for these same demands on their campuses. Housekeepers and other campus workers across the state deserve a living wage and free parking for all they do on a daily basis to make our campuses safe and livable.

Graduate workers across the UNC System do the essential teaching and research that make our universities work. They are underpaid, relative to both their work and to their peers at other institutions. These same graduate workers are forced to pay to do that work through graduate student fees that require them to pay back up to 20 percent of their already meager stipends. We call on the Board of Governors to:

  1. Increase the UNC System minimum graduate stipend to $22,000/year for funded graduate students, and commit to annual increases to those stipends in order to keep up with rising costs of living and attendance; and
  2. Formally recommend that UNC System campuses completely cover or eliminate graduate student fees, as has already been done at UNC.

Finally, it is imperative that the Board of Governors publicly release an official recommendation to the N.C. legislature in favor of repealing N.C. General Statute §95-98, a Jim Crow-era law which prohibits essential university employees from true joint governance and democratic input by denying collective bargaining – a right which workers at several of UNC’s peer institutions, such as the University of Michigan, currently have.

The campus and graduate workers of the UNC System, along with their allies and community supporters, intend to make their demands known to the Board of Governors during their next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on UNC’s campus and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the UNC System Office in Raleigh.

For quality jobs and quality services,

The Campus and Graduate Workers of the UNC System

–UE Local 150, the North Carolina Public Workers Union


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