Over a century ago in 1904, University of Wisconsin President Charles Van Hise declared that he would never be content until the benefits of the university reached every family in the state. Since then, the people of Wisconsin have proudly come together to help fund a public university system that is a crown jewel of our state. For a hundred years, any academically-prepared young person, regardless of his or her background, has had the opportunity to get a quality college education without going into massive debt. It has been a critical pathway to success for generations of Wisconsin’s working families.
Union members play an essential role in making our UW-System function. From heating and maintenance, to cafeteria work, janitorial crews, teaching and administrative support – working people all come together to make our UW-System one of the finest in the world.
Now, Gov. Walker and his allies in the legislature are attacking the very foundation of our higher education system. They’re calling for massive cuts to funding levels, the removal of shared governance that gives faculty, staff and students a voice in decision-making on UW campuses, and the elimination of tenure, one of the fundamental principles of academic freedom that protects learning and research from political interference.
Members of AFT-Wisconsin -- the union for faculty, academic staff, and graduate employees -- members of AFSCME -- the union for classified staff – and Building Trades members who do skilled trades work on campus are sounding the alarm and fighting back against these dangerous proposals to our UW System. Please take a moment to sign the petition.
Devastating cuts to our UW System: Just a few decades ago, over seventy percent of the UW System’s budget came from public funds. Now, it’s well under 20%. Slashing another $250 million from UW campuses will lead to course and program cuts, increased class sizes, crumbling campus infrastructure, diminishing academic excellence and job loss -- and will deal a massive blow to the local Wisconsin economies that depend on their UW campuses as an engine of local economic growth.
Destruction of Shared Governance: University shared governance reflects values that every union member will recognize: whether it’s a steel mill or a college campus, a workplace functions best when the people who work and learn there have a voice in making critical decisions. Scott Walker wants to eliminate shared governance and have our campuses run by a Board of Regents that only he appoints.
Abolishment of Tenure: Faculty tenure and equivalent job security for academic staff are critical for universities to function. It frees research and teaching from politics. What happens to the search for truth when you can get fired for reaching conclusions that don’t support the party line?
Reckless Privatization of Campus Services: Hardworking classified staff provide the essential foundation of a strong university and campus. These services range from janitorial to grounds keeping, administrative to cafeteria work. This budget further incentivizes campuses to privatize whole departments like they did with janitorial and grounds crew workers at UW-Superior. At UW-Superior, a private firm hijacked services resulting in low-wages for workers and subpar services for students. Not only were good-paying, family-supporting jobs eliminated -- the quality of the work suffered. Everybody loses in the privatization of public services.
A century ago, as a people Wisconsinites decided that an affordable world-class public university system benefitted everyone in our state. We were willing to support it, and together we built a system that became a model for the world. Now our precious University of Wisconsin System is facing an attack driven by extremist ideology and political ambition.
Tell Scott Walker and his friends in the legislature that this is our University of Wisconsin System. We built it and we won’t stand by as they try to tear it down.