Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Protest against presidents' salary raise at UIC

By Doug Michel

From: Fight Back News!

Workers and students vowed to stay united and protest until fair contracts are won, and UIC freezes its tuition. (Fight Back! News/Doug Michel)

Chicago, IL – Around 200 workers, students, and special guests from the Illinois state legislature came out for an energized protest against the Board of Trustees meeting, May 20, at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Protestors demanded that the incoming University of Illinois president Michael Hogan turn down his $170,000 raise, chanting, “Chop from the Top!” Members of SEIU Local 73 in conjunction with the coalition UIC-ABC (Against Budget Cuts) organized the picket and rally.

The protest came on the heels of a recent announcement that the new University of Illinois president Hogan is to receive a whopping 37% increase in salary, totaling $620,000 a year, while workers are still struggling for a fair contract, and students’ tuition was hiked up by nearly 10% the same day of the protest.

“It is insulting on the day the University of Illinois is going to raise tuition — they are going to give a salary increase to the new president," said state Sen. Martin Sandoval. “This is supposed to be an institution for the working class and poor!” he exclaimed later.

Regina Russell, a clerical worker and member of Local 73’s executive board, asked, “If the university UIC is in a budget crisis, but they can hire a president making so much more money, where is our fair share?” 2700 members of Local 73 have been without contracts at UIC for almost a year, have faced layoffs and the threat of unpaid furlough days. In April, the clerical workers voted overwhelmingly to strike if an agreement is not reached at the bargaining table.

Kait McIntyre from UIC Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) also condemned the rising tuition costs and cuts to basic student services. “The University of Illinois system has made it quite clear that they value profits for the rich above the students, teachers, and workers of UIC. They consider education a business rather than a basic right.”

Undergraduate students and those from the Graduate Employee Organization traveled from Urbana-Champaign to attend the protest. Chicago SDS members and activists from downstate pledged to network and form a statewide coalition of graduate workers, staff, and undergrad students to continue to fight for higher education in Illinois.

Workers and students vowed to stay united and protest until fair contracts are won, and UIC freezes its tuition. Many cited the massive protests for education rights on March 4 this year, and look forward to pressing the struggle forward.

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