IU Labor Studies Under Attack

IU Labor Studies Under Attack


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Indiana University is a public university with a clear mission to serve constituencies in the state,

especially under-served constituencies like adult working people. Increasingly

 public universities are functioning like private ones



IU Labor Studies Under Attack


May 21, 2005

Dear Union Sisters & Brothers, Colleagues & Friends,

Just this week, six employees of the Indiana University Division of Labor Studies were terminated: three faculty among them. The reason given was a budgetary crunch resulting from legislative cuts in our funding and university demands for increasing income annually. 

As you may know, a Republican governor and Republican control of both houses of the state legislature have made Indiana a very union unfriendly state. Public sector unions were thrown out of government agencies, a right to work law threatens on the horizon, and now the labor studies program has come under the knife.

A Democratic Governor and legislature had managed to take a line item in the state budget for a labor-management council and redirect the funds to labor studies. It was temporary—we did not know for how long—and we had over $350,000 for four years. The Director started adding staff and launched on-line classes which took off. He hired too many on what was only soft money, and also money was running out the door. 

Then came the cut by the Republicans, and on top of that, another cut in the IU budget, requiring a 10% reduction in spending in all departments. Suddenly we had a budget crisis, aggravated by the addition of the soft money allocation to our base budget, which drove up the “budgeted income” we would have to make.

Without consultation or discussion, the Director put together a new budget, his “RIF (reduction-in-force”) budget,” which called for the lay-off of six employees, three of whom are faculty—two, tenured track faculty.

He met with Budgetary Affairs Committee—appointed by the director—but they opposed his plan, and assembled an alternative budget proposal that included no faculty layoffs. The Director was shutting down the South Bend office and cutting the faculty staffing at Fort Wayne in half. The Director also began implementing his new plan before the IUPUI Faculty Budgetary Committee and the Vice Chancellor had accepted any DLS budget. 

He left messages for the secretaries and terminated Paul Mishler and Rae Sovereign at South Bend and Cathy Mulder at Fort Wayne. He has had to rescind the clerical lay-offs because he failed to notify the CWA representing the clerical at the NW campus, and in all instances, he failed to contact the Human Resource Departments on each campus.

Indiana University is a public university with a clear mission to serve constituencies in the state, especially under-served constituencies like adult working people. Increasingly public universities are functioning like private ones, forcing every unit to generate income above expenses, and setting budgets every year higher than the previous year’s income. 

It works like gain-sharing has worked in many workplaces—forcing workers to become ever more productive every year in order to surpass the rising standard.

And why wouldn’t universities feel the same pressure of corporate competitiveness and privatization? More and more, they behave like corporations. Not only were tenure-track faculty terminated, but part-time, temporary and less credentialed employees were kept. The decision on whom the ax would fall did not follow IU policy; it ignored seniority, credentials and faculty governance. 

Welcome to Wal Mart University!

We are asking you for letters of support for maintaining our regional offices that serve working people where they live and work, in this case, the South Bend and Fort Wayne offices. We are asking for support to reverse the arbitrary and discriminatory termination of Rae Sovereign, Paul Mishler and Cathy Mulder, three of our top faculty. 

Finally we ask for your support in opposing hiring and firing procedures that violate university academic policy, and that promote contingent, part-time jobs over fully-funded, skilled jobs. We cannot let WalMart become the model for universities as well.

Please send your letters in support of the Division of Labor Studies at Indiana University, to Executive Vice Chancellor & Dean of Faculties William M. Plater, IUPUI, Administration Building 108, 355 North Lansing Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202-2896. 

You may also e-mail him at Please send me a copy, and also William Schneider, IUPUI AAUP,  In addition, you may want to copy Bart Ng, president of the IUPUI faculty council,

Feel free to “cc” the chancellor as well, Chancellor Charles R. Bantz, located in the same Administration Building (

In Solidarity, Ruth Needleman, professor of labor studies,

posted 22 May 2005

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  /  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






update 25 July 2008



Home   Blacks and Labor in Print

Related files:  Black Freedom Fighters in Steel The Struggle For Democratic Unionism


A Review by Steve Early  Tera Hunter & Joy My Freedom

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.