AFSCME Council 5, the state’s largest public employee union, is trying to stop bonuses for bosses at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities at a time when students are paying more for tuition and other employees are being laid off or taking wage freezes. MnSCU trustees awarded a $40,000 bonus to Chancellor James McCormick on June 16. Additional bonuses are now expected for dozens of other top administrators despite the system’s budget crunch, the union said.
Last year, trustees paid bonuses totaling $287,500 to 35 administrators who earn $100,000 or more. AFSCME plans to protest Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. at the MnSCU headquarters on Wells Fargo Place, 30 E. 7th St., St. Paul.
“Trustees are passing out bonuses with one hand; pink slips and tuition hikes with the other hand. We need to put a stop to that,” said Karen Foreman, an AFSCME member who works at Minnesota State University in Mankato.
“Most bosses are calling for shared sacrifice during tough times. Our union understands that and our members are doing their part to put students first.”
MnSCU trustees forgot that their boss, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, called for a wage freeze to minimize layoffs, the union noted. In his 2009 State of the State address, he said “I’m proposing we freeze all state government wages for the next two years.”
AFSCME state employees accepted that deal – a wage freeze in exchange for fewer layoffs. Now, MnSCU may have to eliminate at least 500 more positions this year, when enrollment has increased by 32,000. Students will lose the services of AFSCME clerical workers, landscapers and janitors as they pay more for tuition.
MnSCU tuition will increase by about 4.5 percent this fall. That increase is necessary to make up for a 35 percent decline in state funding over the past two years. It means students will pay about $200 more for classes at community and technical colleges, and $300 more at MnSCU universities.
AFSCME Council 5 is a union of 43,000 public and non-profit workers in Minnesota, including 3,500 of MnSCU’s 10,000 employees.