Build a better future at EKU

EKU President McFaddin

At the end of 2022, as EKU employees hoped for some sort of bonus to help alleviate the increased costs of the holidays, they received a different kind of surprise. University administrators sent down word of a “soft” hiring freeze, taking away the ability of departments to adequately staff their offices.

This freeze is just one more item on a list of unfair decisions made by university administrators without any input from the employees they impact. Job compression has forced workers at this university to take on more tasks and longer hours even as wages have remained stagnant. For years at EKU, the only way for staff to increase their pay has been to apply for and be hired on to a new position.

The university also uses every opportunity it can to take back the money employees earn through draconian payback policies on employee tuition waivers, limited tuition waivers for graduate assistants, and prohibitively expensive health coverage. Meanwhile, undergraduate workers are locked into unlivable low wages, forcing them to work multiple jobs while maintaining their status as full-time students. Put in this situation, many students have to fight debilitating stress and anxiety, even as they try to earn a degree from an institution that doesn’t prioritize them.

All of these decisions are set against the backdrop of administrative bloat, where only the salaries of those in higher offices steadily grow. These problems have happened and will keep happening for a single reason: the workers at EKU have not had a say in how this university is run.

This unjust and unethical status quo doesn’t work. It leads to rapid burnout of skilled workers and a lack of adequate services for the students we are here to educate and support.

That’s why workers at EKU decided to start organizing in the fall of 2021. The work started slow, with little more than a dozen members releasing our first petition for fair cost of living adjustments, full staffing of departments and increased stipends for graduate students. Now, we have nearly 100 members with representation from all job classes across campus.

We believe that the problems at EKU will continue unless workers come together in solidarity and leverage their power to make a more equitable EKU that can better meet the needs of its employees and the students we serve.

Join us now in standing up to say enough is enough. Please sign our petition demanding President McFaddin and EKU administrators treat their workers with the respect we deserve!

To: EKU President McFaddin
From: [Your Name]

The decision from EKU administrators to place a hiring freeze upon already overworked and underpaid employees is unfair and unjust. It is the latest in a long list of grievances the leadership of this institution has committed against the employees who make EKU run every day.

But enough is enough.

The workers of EKU cannot continue to do more with less in the face of climbing inflation, stagnating wages and prohibitively expensive health care costs.

That is why the United Campus Workers of EKU have come together to demand change that will benefit not only the working people of this campus, but the students and communities we serve as well.

We demand the following:

1. End the hiring freeze that unfairly burdens employees in understaffed departments with more work but no additional compensation and restore staffing in all departments so the needs of students can be effectively met.

2. Invest in equitable living wages and stipends for all EKU workers, including faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate employees. Specifically:

i) Enact a $15 minimum wage for all workers, including student workers
ii) Provide a 10 percent cost of living increase for ALL university employees
iii) Require that departments and units which employ employees through grant funds pay those workers the campus minimum wage
iv) Require contracted employers to pay workers the campus minimum wage as a condition of their contract
v) Review all employee salaries to make adjustments for wage compression

3. Remove EKU enacted barriers to education and enact policies that reflect Kentucky’s proud tradition of higher education being a pathway out of poverty. Specifically:

i) Provide full tuition waivers to the graduate students who give their extra time and energy to making EKU run
ii) End tuition repayment policies that trap EKU employees in their current jobs for two years after using a stated benefit to get an education

4. Commit to making all of these actions without any new cuts to the working people of EKU.

5. Meet with UCW leadership to work through issues facing faculty, staff, and student workers.