IU Labor Studies Under Attack
May 21, 2005
Dear Union Sisters & Brothers,
Colleagues & Friends,
Just this week, six employees of the Indiana
University Division of Labor Studies were terminated: three
faculty among them. The reason given was a budgetary crunch
resulting from legislative cuts in our funding and university
demands for increasing income annually.
As you may know, a Republican governor and
Republican control of both houses of the state legislature have
made Indiana a very union unfriendly state. Public sector unions
were thrown out of government agencies, a right to work law
threatens on the horizon, and now the labor studies program has
come under the knife.
A Democratic Governor and legislature had
managed to take a line item in the state budget for a
labor-management council and redirect the funds to labor
studies. It was temporary—we did not know for how long—and
we had over $350,000 for four years. The Director started adding
staff and launched on-line classes which took off. He hired too
many on what was only soft money, and also money was running out
Then came the cut by the Republicans, and on
top of that, another cut in the IU budget, requiring a 10%
reduction in spending in all departments. Suddenly we had a
budget crisis, aggravated by the addition of the soft money
allocation to our base budget, which drove up the “budgeted
income” we would have to make.
Without consultation or discussion, the
Director put together a new budget, his “RIF
(reduction-in-force”) budget,” which called for the lay-off
of six employees, three of whom are faculty—two, tenured track
He met with Budgetary Affairs
Committee—appointed by the director—but they opposed his
plan, and assembled an alternative budget proposal that included
no faculty layoffs. The Director was shutting down the South
Bend office and cutting the faculty staffing at Fort Wayne in
half. The Director also began implementing his new plan before
the IUPUI Faculty Budgetary Committee and the Vice Chancellor
had accepted any DLS budget.
He left messages for the secretaries and
terminated Paul Mishler and Rae Sovereign at South Bend and
Cathy Mulder at Fort Wayne. He has had to rescind the clerical
lay-offs because he failed to notify the CWA representing the
clerical at the NW campus, and in all instances, he failed to
contact the Human Resource Departments on each campus.
Indiana University is a public university
with a clear mission to serve constituencies in the state,
especially under-served constituencies like adult working
people. Increasingly public universities are functioning like
private ones, forcing every unit to generate income above
expenses, and setting budgets every year higher than the
previous year’s income.
It works like gain-sharing has worked in many
workplaces—forcing workers to become ever more productive
every year in order to surpass the rising standard.
And why wouldn’t universities feel the same
pressure of corporate competitiveness and privatization? More
and more, they behave like corporations. Not only were
tenure-track faculty terminated, but part-time, temporary and
less credentialed employees were kept. The decision on whom the
ax would fall did not follow IU policy; it ignored seniority,
credentials and faculty governance.
Welcome to Wal Mart University!
We are asking you for letters of support for
maintaining our regional offices that serve working people where
they live and work, in this case, the South Bend and Fort Wayne
offices. We are asking for support to reverse the arbitrary and
discriminatory termination of Rae Sovereign, Paul Mishler and
Cathy Mulder, three of our top faculty.
Finally we ask for your support in opposing
hiring and firing procedures that violate university academic
policy, and that promote contingent, part-time jobs over
fully-funded, skilled jobs. We cannot let WalMart become the
model for universities as well.
Please send your letters in support of the
Division of Labor Studies at Indiana University, to Executive
Vice Chancellor & Dean of Faculties William M. Plater, IUPUI,
Administration Building 108, 355 North Lansing Street,
Indianapolis, Indiana 46202-2896.
You may also e-mail him at email@example.com. Please send me a copy,
and also William Schneider, IUPUI AAUP, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, you may want to copy Bart Ng, president of
the IUPUI faculty council, email@example.com.
Feel free to “cc” the chancellor as well,
Chancellor Charles R. Bantz, located in the same Administration
In Solidarity, Ruth Needleman, professor of
labor studies, firstname.lastname@example.org.
posted 22 May 2005
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update 25 July 2008