UCWGA Responds to Wrigley Budget Cut Announcement

On May 1, 2020, while UCWGA members were celebrating and honoring the history of the labor movement, USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley announced a 14% budget cut to all USG schools. In his email to faculty and staff, Wrigley explained that the budget cuts were mandated by Governor Brian Kemp’s office and that a USG proposal required submission by May 20, 2020. Wrigley acknowledged the likelihood of furloughs and layoffs as part of the budget cuts.  The UCWGA Steering Committee went to work immediately to put together our own statement about the impending budget cuts. 

On May 5th, we released our UCWGA statement, pointing out that state budget decisions allowing major corporate tax breaks are impacting our ability to keep our public universities running. Instead of simply accepting the budget cuts as inevitable, we are asking questions about budgeting priorities all the way up to the state level. In addition, our statement made a number of suggestions for how furloughs and cuts might be made if necessary, including no impact on the lowest paid workers and a pay cap for the highest paid administrators. 

While USG has not officially acknowledged our statement, on May 7th they announced a plan for progressive furloughs based on income level. We suspect that even when they do not answer us directly, they are watching what we are doing and responding.

While we are happy to see a progressive plan in place, it does not meet our criteria for truly protecting our most vulnerable workers. For many university employees a furlough simply means a pay cut because we are not able to quantify our work on an hourly basis. For those who can quantify work based on the hours worked, it is a pay cut with no ability to make up the additional hours needed to pay monthly bills. According to the USG plan, only workers making less than $33,476 per year will be protected from pay cuts. (This annual salary amount is below a living wage to begin with! Why are any full-time university workers making less than this?) In contrast, UCWGA calls for no pay cuts for those making less than $65,000. 

Also, under the USG plan the highest paid administrators (some making over $1 million per year) would only take a 10% reduction in pay instead of instituting a pay cap. That means that those over $1 million are still making over $1 million while those of us on the low end of the pay scale are going to struggle to pay rent and other bills. This is unacceptable.

Our KSU chapter will be keeping a close eye on what the KSU administration decides since they may make their own plan that goes beyond the USG recommendations. We have yet to find out what kind of layoffs they may be planning as well as additional furlough days. It is important to note that the state currently funds only a small percentage of our budgets even though we are a “public” university. Therefore, the 14% cuts should only apply to this portion. We therefore need to make sure that KSU does not use this opportunity to cut other portions of the budget that are not justified. 

Join us to hold our administrators accountable! If you are a member and not already plugged in to our weekly meetings, e-mail us to get involved. If you are not a member yet, join here: https://www.ucwga.com/join.

At KSU, we need to know how the pandemic has already impacted workers and what questions or concerns you have about the impending cuts. Please fill out our worker survey or contact us via email: ucwga [dot] ksu [at] gmail.

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