Workers who face layoffs and wage freezes at Minnesota state colleges and universities are blasting the MnSCU system for paying more than $400,000 in bonuses to administrators. On Friday, MnSCU trustees issued $415,875 in bonuses to college and university presidents and three vice chancellors. Earlier in the year, Chancellor James McCormick also received a $40,000 bonus, bringing his annual compensation to $400,000.
Meanwhile, 41 positions are being eliminated from the Chancellor’s Office, including nine AFSCME members who MnSCU says will receive layoff notices on Nov. 9.
“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 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. Our wages have been frozen for two years and we’re working harder with fewer staff.”
Council 5 of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is a union of 43,000 public and non-profit workers in Minnesota, including 3,500 of MnSCU’s 10,000 employees.
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, security staff and janitors as they pay more for tuition.
Members of MAPE, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, also took zero raises each year for the current two-year contract.
“This is not the time to be paying bonuses – when they’re laying people off,” said MAPE Executive Director Jim Monroe. “Minnesota is reeling from the worst recession any of us have seen and they have decided to give bonuses to these positions.
“Once again, we call them to give back their bonuses. We urgently need it to provide the vital services that make this a great state.”