from The Badger Herald Thursday, February 16, 2006

Employee isues put ‘on the table’

by Andriy Pazuniak

Various University of Wisconsin campus representatives met Wednesday morning to address governing policies for university limited-term employees.

In the first such meeting called this semester by UW Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Darrell Bazzell, the LTE Collaborative Group — which includes representatives from major university employee units, the UW chancellor’s office, labor unions, and the UW student body — began discussion on compensation and organizational issues concerning LTEs.

According to Mark Guthier, the UW director of unspecified staff, the LTE Collaborative Group will meet once a week through March.

University LTEs are short-term employees hired by UW in various capacities around campus. Currently, LTEs’ terms of employment are limited, and they are not eligible for many work benefits available to permanent university employees — such as vacation, paid holiday, sick leave and performance awards.

Guthier, who is a member of the LTE Collaborative Group, said yesterday’s meeting was simply meant to put all the issues surrounding LTEs “on the table.”

“It’s premature to say what direction the committee is going in,” Guthier said in a phone interview yesterday.

The Student Labor Action Coalition — which has representatives sitting on the LTE Collaborative Group — has previously raised concern over the level LTEs are paid and the rights available to them.

SLAC representative John Bruning claimed UW is re-hiring LTEs — sometimes for the same position for nine years straight — to avoid having to offer them fulltime employee salaries and benefits.

SLAC has previously attempted to raise LTE salaries to a “livable” wage, to prevent the university from replacing classified staff — unionized workers — with LTEs, who normally receive lower salaries.

“We’re trying to get fulltime positions, so [LTEs] can get benefits,” Bruning said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Some administrators recognize it’s a significant issue and that it needs to be addressed.”

Guthier said the LTE Collaborative Group would work to resolve whatever issues it can by the end of March — when next year’s university budget is to be determined — but that some issues will take longer to resolve.

“Bazzell indicated some issues the committee would like to address — in the longer term — would take more than six weeks to resolve,” Guthier said.

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