AFSCME labor union backs UWS custodial workers over threat of outsourcing

By KBJR News 1

July 26, 2014 Updated Jul 26, 2014 at 10:39 PM CDT

SUPERIOR, Wis. (NNCNOW.com) --- In the past year, the University of Wisconsin has undergone a self-review to make up their budget challenge of $4.5 million.

One of the proposals - of many - is outsourcing grounds and custodial positions at UWS.

UWS officials say they are hopeful that in one month a six week bidding period will open for companies interested in making proposals to take over custodial and grounds work for the University.

Opening the potential to outsourcing requires UWS to notify employees that their jobs may be at risk. These notification letters went out last May to around 30 custodial and ground workers.

One of the workers who received a letter is Glen Khalar, who has worked at the college for eighteen years.

"When we first got our letter of notice, I took about a month to really think about how it affects everyone here," said Khalar, who participated in a rally led by AFSCME Saturday.

The sea of green flooded the streets of Superior to voice their concerns of outsourcing campus jobs.

It is not a sure thing that Khalar and others will lose their jobs at the college.

Well before that decision is made, the college will determine if it makes more sense to keep the positions in–house after all final proposals are made and extensively examined.

The college emphasizes that they will review all proposals with two criterion: cost and quality.

Still, AFSCME members were fired up Saturday and lined behind Khalar in his fight to keep his job.

"I started this letter on how I felt and what can happen and will happen if this is allowed and the effects of everything that will come of it,” Khalar said. “So with the letter being sent out, I am just amazed at the support that we are getting from it."

The reason UWS is facing a budget challenge, according to college officials, is due to three factors.

The first factor is due to a decrease in state funding, the second is due to a tuition freeze, and the third is due to declining enrollment.

These factors have prompted UWS to find several ways to reduce their budget and grow revenue.

Another example the college has reduced their budget is the suspension of one half of their graduate programs.

Nick Minock