While most students are aware of the current contract dispute between two of Temple’s unions and President Ann Weaver Hart’s administration, many may not fully understand the main causes of the dispute or the implications of labor unrest for us as Temple students. AFSCME, the union that represents a variety of support staff such as our advisers, financial aid specialists and housing staff, has been without a new contract for a year, and the contract of TAUP, the union that represents our faculty, expired on Oct. 15.
The two unions’ main objections to the university’s contract proposals concern the substitution of across-the-board raises for a pay-for-performance system. The objective of a system of across-the-board raises is to keep pace with the rise in the cost of living for all employees covered under the contract. In other words, this system attempts to keep employees from making less while doing the same work they have always done. Under the university’s proposed plan, yearly raises would be based solely on the subjective judgments of supervisors. In addition, all employees would not receive pay-for-performance raises.
As students, we must question the affect a pay-for-performance plan could have on the academic and professional integrity of our faculty and staff, as well as the possibility of favoritism and discrimination against the university employees who deal most directly with us. Dissatisfied professors and support staff directly affect the quality of education we receive. In addition, we must worry about the affect labor unrest, like a strike, would have on our breaks and our graduation dates. In her speech at the TSG State of the Campus address, President Hart stated Temple is committed to strong unions. If the university truly is committed to strong unions, as well as the satisfaction of the student body, President Hart must do everything in her power to ensure these contracts are settled fairly.
Temple Student Labor Action Project