Dear Editor: Thanks to the Capital Times for covering worker layoffs and grievances at UW-Madison. While Chancellor Blank seeks applause for her second round of “progressive furloughs,” the truth is that Bucky's record as an employer is mixed.
I find it especially concerning that Dr. Sharad Chandarana's pending grievance — that he has been denied a renewable appointment as required by academic staff policies and procedures, despite his 30-plus years of service as a lecturer in the math department — may be dismissed because he is not currently employed on campus. That sounds like someone with a legitimate job security grievance to me!
Unfortunately, Dr. Chandarana is not alone. UW-Madison staff with fixed-term terminal appointments often have to reapply each semester. Needing to scramble every few months for continued employment and health insurance is stressful in the best of times. 2020 is not the best of times.
UW System policy sets one year as the default length for fixed-term appointments. Other UW campuses set the minimum position length at one academic year. UW-Madison can and should do better.
This spring, our labor union, United Faculty and Academic Staff (AFT Local 223), called for solidarity, not austerity, in response to the COVID-19 crisis. That statement included a call for UW-Madison to extend all fixed-term terminal appointments by at least one year.
It is not too late to do the right thing, for Dr. Chandarana and for campus workers with fixed-term positions generally.
Send your letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.