UW-W faculty takes stand over repair bill

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Kevin Hoffman
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
— UW-Whitewater faculty members are urging state lawmakers to rescind collective bargaining changes and reconsider a proposal to break-off UW-Madison from the UW System.

UW-W faculty overwhelmingly passed a resolution Tuesday during its spring meeting, asking the state Senate and Assembly to "reverse the vote for the amended budget repair bill and to significantly alter the biennial budget."

Meanwhile, UW-W Chancellor Richard Telfer said leaders across the UW System are signing a separate resolution asking Gov. Scott Walker and other legislators to consider an alternative to separating the flagship campus from the rest of the UW System.

The "Wisconsin Idea Partnership," supported by the Board of Regents, would keep UW-M under the umbrella of the UW System. At the same time, the operational flexibilities proposed for UW-M would be extended to all schools.

Telfer said that gives campus leaders more control over their budgets and allows them to efficiently manage funds as the state continues to scale back its contributions.

"My biggest concern on this is there is a lot of unknowns," Telfer said. "We're all concerned with the level of cuts, we're concerned with the continuing nature of cuts that we've had. What I'm saying from my perspective is we're better off to get these (flexibilities) because then we have the capability to deal with it."

Walker's budget released earlier this month outlines $250 million in cuts throughout the UW System. Separating UW-M would allow it to create its own board of trustees, many of which would be appointed by the governor.

Faculty already lost out on a 2 percent contracted raise in 2009 and greater contributions to pensions and health care will take 7 to 10 percent from their salary, faculty wrote in the resolution. They also feared implications of the budget repair bill will make it difficult to recruit high-quality educators.

UW-W does not have a faculty union, though the letter indicated there is support for one.

"We believe it should be our choice whether or not we wish to exercise our right to collectively bargain, to stand with our peers to negotiate not only economic matters, but also on conditions of work," faculty wrote.

Telfer said a letter from all UW chancellors except for UW-M Chancellor Biddy Martin would soon be drafted showing support for the Wisconsin Idea Partnership. He said he is confident UW-W has the faculty and administration to assume greater control of its funds.

The new partnership would provide flexibility for budgeting, tuition, construction and human resources, among other initiatives, he said.

Faculty said it would soon send its resolution to the state legislature. It also approved the creation of an ad-hoc committee to provide updates of state government affairs and their effect on campus.

"These budgetary decisions will have consequences for decades to come," faculty wrote in the resolution. "The lack of open and reasoned debate on the proposed changes, and the lack of ability to compromise and to discard ideas, are not in the best interest of Wisconsin."

Last updated: 4:44 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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