Several sit-out at UNC over jobs

April 7, 2011 10:37:10 AM PDT
Some maintenance workers, students and faculty at UNC Chapel Hill gathered on the steps of the South Building Thursday to protest schedule changes for workers. The protest is about the administration's decision to eliminate a flexible work schedule for maintenance workers. They will no longer be allowed to have a 4-day, 10-hour work week. It will be switched back to five days.

Administrators say the change is due to budget cuts and it will increase efficiency by allowing the school not to refill 10 open positions. But some workers say it will only hurt them.

"If they take away the 4/10s, I believe it will take jobs," said worker Chuck Grant. "In the end you save money from the 4/10's and in the end you save jobs,"

Grant is an UNC campus mason who helped organize Thursday's sit-out.

"Some people have second jobs, I know I do on the side just to make ends meet," he said. "But even more so, even more than that it's just the fuel getting here."

"I think it's just showing the economy here," maintenance worker Van Sparrow said.

Faculty member Karen Booth, who teaches Women's Studies, cancelled her class Thursday, urging her students to join her at the sit-out to see how cuts are affecting workers.

"I think one of the big problems is this university legislature has had no transparency deciding where the cuts are made, so we're just all the sudden workers are told you're going to work this many hours instead of that many hours," Booth said.

But not all maintenance workers feel the same; at least one was not supporting the protest.

"I think they're lucky just to have a job in this day and time 4/10s is 4/10s and 5/8s are 5/8s, somebody ain't got that," Hank Bowers said.

The protesters say they are thankful for their jobs, but just want a voice when it comes to administrators making changes.

The change back to a five day work week goes into effect on July 1.

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