To the editor:
In an article dated March 3, 2009, Kathryn A. López wrote that Temple’s members of the American Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees union Local 1723 were “lashing out against their negotiation team after going without a pay raise for more than a year and a half” on the AFSCME47 listserv. What Lopez did not mention is that the AFSCME47 listserv is moderated by the university administration, not the union. What she also failed to uncover is that many AFSCME members attempted to post messages in support of the union leadership, only to wait hours to see their messages posted, if at all, while crude, abusive, anonymous anti-union messages were posted instantaneously.
The AFSCME47 listserv is merely another aspect of the university administration’s PR campaign against the union, yet another attempt by them to splinter the union membership. The listserv, like articles in the Temple Times and direct e-mails from the administration to the membership, is meant to inflame, rather than inform the union members.
The union and its members are opposed to the administration’s proposal to link pay increases to performance evaluations since, historically, this creates an inequitable culture of subjectivity and favoritism. The union is asking for a fair, across-the-board, annual increase for its members, with the option of an additional bonus on top. In its last negotiation with the university, AFSCME accepted a three-year contract for a 2 percent across-the-board, plus 1 percent bonus annual increase.
As the cost of living increases at an annual rate of more than 3 percent, Temple’s AFSCME employees are doing the same jobs year after year for less money. Giving each AFSCME member an additional 1 percent across-the-board increase would amount to approximately $300,000 per year for the university – a drop in the bucket of the annual budget, and yet a meaningful amount in the lives of dedicated Temple University staff making an average of less than $40,000 per year. The union leadership and membership are both eager to settle the contract with the university, but not in a way that inhibits their ability to support themselves and their families.
Jacqueline Glago Divirgilio
Edward A. Myers Jr.
Sergio Pagan Jr.
Denise Upchurch Clark
Karen Woods Wilson