AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF WISCONSIN
FROM CONCERNED STATE EMPLOYEES/
EMPLOYEES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-PARKSIDE*
March 13, 2011
Over the last six months, candidates for public office and elected officials have made statements defining State employees as overpaid and overcompensated in their benefits (including retirement plans), thus making State employees the scapegoat for the economic crisis the State of Wisconsin currently faces. As State employees who have dedicated our careers to providing quality service to the citizens of Wisconsin, we believe it is time to clarify the facts and provide perspective.
Governor Walker has an interesting view of his dedicated band of State employees. "You are not going to hear me degrade state and local employees in the public sector," Walker said. "But we can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and taxpayers who foot the bills are the have-nots." (Lee Bergquist and Jason Stein, “Walker Looks at Showdown with State Employee Unions,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/7/10)
Let’s talk about what we HAVE done:
1. All State employees have paid taxes. We pay sales tax, income tax, property tax, all the same taxes everyone else pays. We help to “foot the bills”;
2. We have endured irregular pay increases that do not always keep up with the cost of living increase;
3. We have annual compensation (earnings plus benefits) that is approximately 5% less than what we would receive in the private sector (8-12% less for University of Wisconsin-System non-classified staff and faculty);
4. We have earned our pensions and retirement plans. Those benefits, along with our salaries, are part of the total compensation we receive for the services we perform. They are not “handouts” from the taxpayer. As Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Kay Johnston notes: “…state workers are not being asked to simply "contribute more" to Wisconsin' s retirement system… They are being asked to accept a cut in their salaries so that the state of Wisconsin can use the money to fill the hole left by tax cuts and reduced audits of corporations in Wisconsin” (David Kay Johnston, “Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Who ‘Contributes’ to Public Workers’ Pensions?”, Tax.com, 2/24/11);
5. We have taken 6-8 furlough days per year (during which many of us keep up our regular work schedule, for no pay). For all of us, this is equivalent to a three percent pay reduction for the past two years;
6. Faculty and academic staff have given up a 2% legislatively approved salary increase from the 2007-2009 biennium, which has not been restored;
7. A large number of us have been asked to provide more services – additional duties, overload, expectation of working more than 40 hours per week, coverage for other staff during furlough days, additional summer work – all with no additional remuneration;
8. After adding the reductions to benefits directed by the currently proposed Budget Repair Bill for Fiscal Year 2011, State employees will have endured an approximate 10-15% reduction in income;
But what is most important is that we HAVE given good service to the State of Wisconsin! Here is a short list of some of the services we HAVE provided:
We give citizens - from babies to senior citizens - the education and training they need to compete in today's global economy and earn family-sustaining wages.
We clean your buildings at all state-run facilities;
We maintain those same buildings to protect your tax dollar investment;
We maintain the infrastructure of our highways and places of public domain;
We offer people with disabilities a chance at full employment;
We provide health care for many who would have no other options;
We insure the health and safety of our citizens;
We uphold the laws governing Wisconsin;
We provide valuable research addressing state, national, and global concerns;
We plan for the future.
To provide these services, we have had to make many countless, undocumented sacrifices that are seldom reported. We have kept our doors open while we stagger furlough days so there is no noticeable interruption in the service we provide. Many, many state employees have to work more than one job to make ends meet. Many State employees have had to sell their homes to make ends meet. We are just like you.
The future does not look much better. There are many who will have to leave public service when these new cuts come into place. There are thousands that will stay and have to take on another job – in some cases, another 20-30 hours per week – in order to continue providing the service they see as vital to the welfare of the people. There is real concern that our entry level classified staff will have an annual salary dangerously close to the poverty line. And as for new employees: the most qualified job candidates will have less incentive to take jobs in Wisconsin (or stay here), because they will have less to work with, and we will have less to offer them. The proposed budget cuts will severely compromise our state education system, other state functions and services, our quality of life, and our children’s futures.
We are dedicated to the people of this state, welcoming its visitors, educating its citizens, and promoting the great way of life Wisconsin has to offer. Please consider how state workers have contributed to the high quality of life in this state that has kept our doors "open for business.”
Signatories (alphabetical order):
Paul Aceto, Academic Program Associate, Sociology/Anthropology; Nydia Adames-Petty, Academic Advisor, Advising and Career Center; Katy Aiello, Program Assistant, Biological Sciences/Geosciences; Fay Yokomizo Akindes, Director, Center for Ethnic Studies, and Associate Professor, Communication: Simon Akindes, Associate Professor, Political Science; G. Clark Alexander, Visiting Assistant Professor, Mathematics; Kathlyn Barry, Assistant Professor, Sociology/Anthropology; Kim Bartosz, Senior Academic Librarian; Esther Beneish, Associate Professor, Mathematics; Sylvia Beyer, Professor and Chair, Psychology; Mark Bilbrey, Lecturer, English; Ami Bouterse, Assistant Professor, Music; Jeannine Brokmeier, Facilities Management Financial Specialist; Theresa Castor, Associate Professor, Communication; Mary Chachula, LTE Program Associate, Interdisciplinary Studies; Michael Clickner, Fireside Theatre Technical Director and Scenic Lab Supervisor, Theatre Arts; Norman R. Cloutier, Professor, Economics, and Director, Center for Economic Education; Ed Conrad, Clinical Professor, Psychology; Teresa Coronado, Assistant Professor, English; William Ebben, Associate Professor, Health, Exercise, and Sport Management; Erica Eddy, Lecturer, Computer Science; Mark Eichner, Associate Professor and Chair, Music; Damian Evans, Director, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs; Kenneth French, Assistant Professor, Geography; Brian Gascoigne, Custodian; Laura Gellott, Professor, History; Kate Gillogly, Assistant Professor, Anthropology; Nat Godley, Assistant Professor, History; Alan Goldsmith, Associate Professor, Graphic Design/Art; Judith Golombowski, Associate Lecturer, Art; Gail Gonzalez, Associate Professor and Chair, Modern Languages; Terance Goltz, Custodian; Karen Grabher, Program Assistant (Advanced-Confidential), Student Services; Ana Guerriero, Coordinator, LGBTQ Resource Center; Cheryl Gundersen, Program Assistant; Anne Gurnack, Professor and Chair, Political Science; Lorraine Haeffel, Academic Program Associate, Chemistry/Math/Physics; Stu Hansen, Associate Professor, Computer Science; Stephen Hawk, Professor, Management Information Systems; Peggy Huset-Duros, Associate Lecturer of Chemistry; Peggy James, Associate Professor, Political Science; Dileep Karanth, Lecturer, Physics; Dean Karpowicz, Senior Lecturer, English; Jennifer Keefe, Assistant Professor, Philosophy; Nora Keller, Operations Program Associate; Farida Khan, Professor of Economics; Rick Kilps, Associate Professor of Education; James Kinchen, Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities; Renee Sartin Kirby, Coordinator, Disability Services; Herb Konrad, Custodian; Lisa Kornetsky, Associate Professor and Chair, Theatre Arts; Joseph Lambin, Academic Program Associate, Communication/Modern Languages/Philosophy; Moses Langley, Assistant Professor, Psychology; Peg Lawton, Human Resources Manager; Mary Lenard, Associate Professor, English; Bryan Lewis, Assistant to the Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, and Pre-Health Advisor; Susan Lincke, Associate Professor, Computer Science; Don Lintner, Creative Services Program Manager; Brandi Liantonio, Academic Program Associate; Alexander Lichtman, Professor, Mathematics; Charles Lott, Custodial Supervisor; Dale Lovejoy, Heating & Chilling Plant Superintendent; Adela Lozano, Coordinator of Retention Programs/Advisor, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs; Paige Mano, Reference Instruction Librarian; Roseann Mason, Lecturer, Sociology; Elizabeth McGee, University Webmaster; Randall McKee, Senior Lecturer, Biological Sciences; Alex McNair, Associate Professor, Modern Languages; Kent B. McReynolds, Lecturer, Chemistry; Jay McRoy, Associate Professor, English; Vanaja Menon, Director, Library; Marcelo Milan, Assistant Professor, Economics; Dennis Miller, Associate Lecturer, Mathematics; Gwendolyn Miller, Senior Lecturer, English; Connie Minton, Academic Department Associate, Criminal Justice; Sandra Moats, Associate Professor, History; Priscilla Mogensen, Associate Lecturer, Teacher Education; Donald Monson, Associate Lecturer, Academic Skills; Cathy Mossman, Senior Lecturer, Biological Sciences; Judy Muhlenbeck, Advising and Career Center; Megan Mullen, Professor and Chair, Communication; Michelle Nevarez-Larkin, Academic and Career Advisor, Advising and Career Center; Jonathan Olsen, Associate Professor, Political Science; Sarah Park, Outreach Program Manager; Marilyn Pinzger, Access Services Librarian; Terri Portee, University Services Program Associate, Student Activities; Roby Rajan, Professor, Business; Britnee Ramirez, Lecturer, Learning Assistance; Jim Robinson, Director, Teaching and Learning Center; Thomas Roelke, Academic Staff, Biology; Helen Rosenberg, Director, Community-Based Learning and Research; Craig Royal, Data Services Specialist, Information Services; Darlene Safransky, Dean’s Assistant, College of Arts and Sciences; Mary Kay Schleiter, Associate Professor, Sociology; Ed Schmitt, Associate Professor, History; Jonathan Shailor, Director, Certificate Program in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and Associate Professor, Communication; Theron P. Snell, Advisor; Julia Stark, Lecturer, Criminal Justice; Bruce Stone, Lecturer, English; Suzanne M. Swiderski, Academic Director, First-Year Programs, and Assistant Professor, English; Susan Takata, Professor, Criminal Justice; Bruce W. Tonkin, Associate Lecturer, Mathematics; Christine Tutlewski, Director, Learning Assistance; Guadalupe Vidales, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice; Carole Vopat, Professor, English; Richard Walasek, Associate Professor and Chair, Geography; Skelly Warren, Professor, Theatre Arts Design/Production; John Ward, Assistant Professor, Geography; Linda Wawiorka, Audio-Visual Services Coordinator; Kim White, M3C Program Director, Wisconsin Campus Compact; Denise Widup, Senior Lecturer, Mathematics; Gary Wood, Associate Professor and Chair, Chemistry; Mary Xiong, Coordinator of Retention Programs; Robert Zimla, IS Tech Services Specialist, Computer Support Services
*THIS LETTER WAS PAID FOR BY THE INDIVIDUALS WHOSE NAMES APPEAR ABOVE, AND IS NOT AUTHORIZED OR FUNDED BY ANY STATE AGENCY
And they put that way nicer than they needed too.