Indiana University recently made public its plan to dismiss 50 hourly workers from custodial and maintenance jobs in the Bloomington physical plant department. The University will then force these workers to re-apply for their jobs through a temporary agency, Manpower, located in Columbus, Indiana. This move comes in the wake of restrictions on the number of hours worked by part-time staff and support workers, as well as massive lay-offs in the affiliated IU Health system. While IU has claimed that these moves are necessary and “responsible from a spending perspective”, they are, in fact, cynical, alarming, unnecessary, and damaging to both the university and to the wider community.
Indiana University is not a for-profit business. It is a public institution whose mission is educating the public, while fostering a creative and secure environment that benefits the state of Indiana, the people, and the surrounding community. At a time when top administrators are receiving substantial raises and six-figure salaries, and the university engages in massive building programs on campus, the simultaneous necessity of slashing hours and “temping” low-paid employees appears extremely suspicious and exceptionally unfair. Such callousness does serious damage both to the workers and their families and to Bloomington and the surrounding community. These moves represent a threat to the entire workforce and indicate a willingness on behalf of the University and Board of Trustees to continue to balance the books at the expense of vulnerable workers who are denied the right to collective bargaining procedures and to genuine input and job security. Rather than attack low-paid and part-time workers, the University administration and the Board of Trustees should be using their considerable influence and power to demand massive increases in state funding, or at the very least, a return to pre-2000’s funding levels. At a time of record corporate profits and staggering levels of income inequality, IU’s move to lay-off low wageworkers and slash hours is an act of shocking irresponsibility.
The Progressive Faculty and Staff Caucus strongly urges Indiana University and the Board of Trustees to immediately cancel the decision to lay off the 50 physical plant workers, and restore hours to those who worked more than 30 hours per week in the preceding fiscal year. Austerity at the state and federal level is already causing havoc for American workers in all forms of employment. Irresponsible corporations like General Electric lay off workers despite soaring profits. And the City of Bloomington has “outsourced” custodial work to a notorious anti-union temp agency in Indianapolis, while approving the construction of a “boutique” hotel on the B Line Trail run by Hyatt Corporation, a company recently the object of a global boycott over their mistreatment of workers. The war on American workers is raging, and our campus and community are on the front lines. Indiana University strives to be at the cutting edge as an institution. It should not be at the cutting edge of fiscal irresponsibility and austerity. We can and must do better.
This statement is endorsed by:
Indiana University Progressive Faculty and Staff Caucus
Democracy for Monroe County
South Central Indiana Jobs with Justice