Labor Day 2010
Labor Day 2010 had an ironic feel to it. In a country where unemployment is inching towards 10%, and where pockets and populations within the country have even higher unemployment rates, working takes on new meaning. Gratitude comes to mind in a conscious way that it did not previously. It no longer seems unusual to overhear the conversation that took place in a recent spinning class when a member of the class asked a person he hadn’t seen in awhile. “So, how are your kids?” The woman to whom he asked the question answered, “My son just lost his job, and he’s back living with us. I told my husband we should put a revolving door in the front of our house!” It’s the rare family that has not experienced unemployment or the specter of it. My own family has not been immune.
In the University, we are grateful to have jobs. I am grateful and thankful to have a job I love doing work that matters. But I am heartsick that it is another year in which staff hired under the State Personnel Act will not get raises. I want to tell the citizens of North Carolina how important these people are to keeping the university strong, how hard they work and how dedicated they are to UNC-Chapel Hill. Some of these employees are working two jobs so they can take care of their families. Most weren’t well paid before, but with the impact of no raises, they’re falling further and further behind. Staff members are part of the essential infrastructure for universities. As we lose staff due to attrition and layoffs, we all must work harder and harder, past the point of efficiency and effectiveness. Most of our exempt employees also have not gotten raises for at least two years. Our faculty members are in the same position, and an increasing number are being courted by other universities. Some will leave, and their leaving will make us less strong.
It’s a bad economy, and there are no easy answers. We’ll get out of it, but not this year and probably not next year. In the meantime, today, on this holiday dedicated to workers, I want to say, thank you so much for everything you do. I look forward to the time we can thank you with raises and not only with words.
Happy Monday. Gratefully, Barbara