By Peter Kaczmarczyk

Back in July we held our annual bargaining session with the university to determine the distribution of wages for staff. This was an especially frustrating year, because despite our best efforts to lobby the university and the fact that IU will be receiving stimulus money to plug gaps in the state’s budget for IU, IU decided they would not give raises to staff. While they did authorize a onetime bonus of $500 for those staff making under 30K a year, they claimed this was all they could afford, despite spending $144 million on new building projects and announcing over 120 faculty hires.
We attempted to bargain in good faith, to have IU follow its own polices which give us the right to negotiate “over how the designated wage and salaries budget funds for Staff employees' wages and salaries should be allocated among the Staff employees.” Unfortunately IU claimed the bonus money was outside of the standard budget process, and that this clause of the Conditions of Cooperation did not apply. We argued otherwise and felt IU was using a technicality to avoid giving us our voice in the process, but IU administration refused to budge.
We asked to have the $500 bonuses distributed differently, so that all staff received a bonus. We felt IU’s mandate was unfair and essentially arbitrary in giving bonuses to only some staff, when all staff are struggling. IU refused. We asked to have the bonuses placed onto base pay so that staff could reap the meager benefits in the future when raises are given out based on a % increase. Again IU refused.
We did all we could within the confines the trustees and the university allow us, and as always fought for all staff. We operated in good faith with a goal of fairness. Alas, IU did not seem interested in doing the same, choosing instead to follow a mandate from on high that not only further hurts IU’s most vulnerable but also lowered staff morale and created rifts between those who get a bonus and those who don’t.
For those of you who will be getting a bonus, you should expect it in early December. At that time we hope you will assess your situation and, if your financial situation allows, give some or all of it to a food bank or the cause of your choice. And if you do, let us know and let IU administration know. There is no better way to show them how human beings should treat each other in times of need--that they should do everything they can to help those less fortunate--than by doing it ourselves. IU had a chance to do so with their 2009-2010 budget and chose not to. Let’s show them how it’s done.