Ewu Workers Call For New Leadership Non-Faculty Union Members Protest Severance Bonuses
Non-faculty union employees at Eastern Washington University have over-whelmingly voted “no confidence” in the current administration, prompting a demand to Gov. Gary Locke to “replace the decision-makers.”
In a July 7 letter to Locke, Local 931 of the Washington Federation of State Employees asked the Democratic governor to eliminate bonuses promised to outgoing President Mark Drummond and Provost James Hoffman and not to reappoint Spokane Mayor Jack Geraghty and two other members to the seven-person board of trustees.
“At a time that the institution is pleading low funding, they’re coming up with $200,000 for administrators who have resigned, which would cover a lot of salaries for staff who are staying to take care of the students,” Local 931 spokeswoman Kathy Fleming said Tuesday.
“The administration is not giving full consideration to student needs,” she said.
The union discontent has been fueled by declining enrollment and state budget cuts, forcing Eastern to trim about $2 million from its 1997-98 academic year budget.
The shortfall has resulted in a proposed layoff of at least three teachers and 13 staff. Another 23 vacant faculty posts would not be filled.
However, Local 931 said the number of affected staff positions would be higher. The union said administrators want to eliminate or reduce the hours of at least 34 staff positions.
University trustee Mike Ormsby said the board is attempting to make the cuts as painless as possible.
“We’re not going to come up with solution that will make everybody happy,” he said. “In fact, everybody will be unhappy when you start cutting jobs.”
Geraghty said Tuesday he wasn’t planning to seek reappointment to the EWU board anyway when his term expires in September. He’s been on the board for 12 years.
Julian Torres Jr. of Toppenish, Wash., and Al Brisbois of Renton, Wash., are the other board members that the union has asked not be reappointed.
By a vote of 216-14, union members expressed “no confidence” in the administration. A campus rally to publicize their dissatisfaction is scheduled for noon on July 23.
The 416 employees represented by Local 931 are the classified staff who handle clerical duties, maintain the grounds and provide student services.
Drummond announced his resignation June 24, the same day the union mailed ballots to members. Ballots were counted last Thursday.
The board agreed to continue Drummond’s $110,000 salary for two years after he leaves in June 1998, said university spokeswoman Stefanie Pettit. He also will collect $140,000 in deferred compensation negotiated in previous years.
He is expected to take a two-year leave and then return to the school as a faculty member.
Hoffman will leave at the same time, drawing his $108,000 annual salary for another 18 months to cash in several hundred hours of leave time, Pettit said. He will return as a professor of geology in 2000.
In addition to calling on Locke’s support, the union has asked the Washington State Labor Council to sanction the university by placing it on an “unfair to labor” list, the highest public censure organized labor can invoke.
Unionized companies and workers often avoid doing business with institutions sanctioned by the labor council, Fleming said.