Chattanooga, TN - On Tuesday April 26, UTC Chancellor Steven Angle and Vice Chancellor Tyler Forrest made public the university’s budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

Murfreesboro, TN - As students return to campus with no COVID safety measures in place during the omicron surge, members of United Campus Workers distributed free N95 masks

Campus workers, community members, and allies are invited to join us this MLK Day for a celebration honoring Dr. King's legacy and the continued fight for racial and economic justice.

Last year, a minimum raise was provided by both systems, 2500 TBR workers who made less than $12.82 an hour received at least $750, and at UT, workers won increases in base pay to $8.50 and a flat minimum raise of $1000 for other employees, providing UT's lowest paid workers almost $2500 more a year.

These were important steps. It would be a shame for campus workers to see less than these minimum raises in 2012. With rising food and gas prices, and higher out-of-pocket insurance expenses, the cost of working for higher education is more than many UT and TBR workers can afford. All of us have the human right to earn at least a living wage.

United Campus Workers is urging all higher education employees to contact our system chiefs, and ask that they distribute this raise as an equal dollar amount. It is the decent thing to do.

Contact UT President DiPietro: HERE

Contact TBR Chancellor Morgan: HERE

Take the survey on our Spring & Summer activities here today!

There will be an interfaith prayer vigil for Tennessee Tech, President Bob Bell, and Tech custodians on MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 5pm on the Tech Quad. As many of you may have read, the university has taken the next step towards outsourcing custodial jobs to Service Solutions, part of the UK-based conglomerate Compass Group, and are now in negotiations with them. We invite you to join us on MONDAY, February 13th at 5 PM (CENTRAL) on the Quad to pray:
*For leaders to make the right decision and keep custodians in the Tech family,
*For custodians to have strength and courage, and
*For faculty, staff, and students who will also be affected by this decision. The university isn't outsourcing just a group of people, they are outsourcing our family.

Off-campus folks can find parking along 8th and 9th St or Jefferson Ave (parallel to Dixie Ave). The Quad runs between Derryberry Hall (William L Jones Dr off Dixie Ave) and 7th St.

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Much could have been done to avoid this bad outsourcing decision. As campuses around the state and country utilize student fees to generate energy savings through efficiency, Tech as an institution – under the leadership of Dr. Claire Stinson, Vice President for Business and Planning, and President Bell – is headed for the shoals. Just last Wednesday, Governor Bill Haslam announced, “Increasing energy efficiency in state government will help us be even better stewards of both taxpayer dollars and our environment.” Compared to other schools like ETSU and UT Knoxville, which made cutting supply costs and energy expenses a key part of their response to the budget crisis of the recession, Tech chooses instead to cut costs on the backs of some of the least paid people on campus. “I can’t support my household on minimum wage – it’s just not possible,” said another custodian, the sole wage earner for her family. "Plus we know there are ways to stop this, and things that can fill the budget gap, like the energy savings that the students themselves chose."

In addition, outsourcing with Service Solutions is exactly the decision that the Knox County School Board just voted against. In their meeting November 2, board members voted 5‐4 not to enter into a contract with Service Solutions, despite heavy lobbying. Years ago, UT Knoxville canceled their contract with Service Solutions after a disastrous beginning. Why is Tech buying into the losers?

Despite what Tech officials project about cost savings with this outsourcing move, past experience has shown that the costs come back. The cost to the Cookeville community by a major employer from lost jobs and lost health insurance strains the already fragile social safety net. In addition, Tech will spend money on employee turnover, repeated training, and contract overages, and the state will be charged immeasurable money in the way of buildings deteriorating from poor upkeep. Taxpayers are handing over tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure to a company whose mission is to realize its own short‐term profits.

IB ImageMost of the Tennessee Tech faculty, staff, and student body—with solidarity and support from across the region and many in the Cookeville community—remain united against the idea that outsourcing or privatization of our custodial services will improve our campus or enhance the common good. On October 21, the United Campus Workers organized a rally and march to send a clear message to the Tech administration that our custodians are awesome and the idea of outsourcing is awful.

Our spirited rally invoked a Halloween theme, complete with zombies and grim reapers representing the dark threat of losing one’s job or benefits in this bumpy economy. Following spirited songs, chants, and speeches along Dixie, we marched with a coffin across campus and down Seventh Street towards the hospital, where we gathered for more speeches, finally concluding with a candlelight vigil and closing remarks from the Rev. Pat Handlson.

Close to 100 people participated in the rally, and most remarked that it was an empowering and invigorating experience. While the fears of outsourcing have a tendency to discourage and divide us, acting with a united voice for workplace justice left us encouraged and united. The virtual media blackout from the major Cookeville print and radio sources struck us as a serious oversight on their part, but the student-run campus media The Oracle and WTTU continue to cover our cause in a sympathetic manner.

The trend in public higher education for decades has been to follow the failed business models of extreme privatization that have diminished professionalism and outsourced American jobs. For the faculty, many have been “outsourced” internally, where tenured professors have been replaced by temporary instructors. With United Campus Workers, we recognize the dignity of all work and honor especially the connections between colleagues whose labor is precarious and contingent or does not include basic courtesies like full-time hours, a living wage, or health/retirement benefits. The longer struggle to change the structure of our institutions would greatly benefit adjunct faculty, custodians, and other co-workers who contribute greatly to the success of our universities but do not earn their fair share.

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Tennessee Tech is more than a university; we're a family, and students, staff, and faculty all take pride in the purple and gold. The potential outsourcing of TTU custodial staff is an unwise attempt to balance the university's budget on the backs of our own brothers and sisters. Outsourcing may make immediate financial sense to the administration, but these members of our community are priceless. As we go to press, no final decision has been reached by the administration, and we continue to pressure them with emails, phone calls, letters, and public actions, raising awareness and our voices, hoping to change the outcome and reverse the decision to outsource.The moral cost of outsourcing coupled with the cost to community morale could be devastating. Faculty stand with custodians because we're all custodians: custodians of the higher good, custodians of the reputation of a TTU education, custodians of the truth.


- Andy Smith is a tenured Instructor of English at TTU and a member of UCW-CWA