BIPOC Staff Mistreatment Factor in Unionization

Kristy Moua, features editor 

It’s been quite a hard year at Augsburg University, specifically in regards to the treatment of staff. Administration has laid off or fired multiple staff members, and some have felt pressured to find other jobs before facing the first two options. Because of the amount of faculty and staff “leaving” and being kicked out of their positions, it has left many Augsburg students and staff to question the ethics and decisions made by the administration. Why fire so many people, in particular BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) faculty and staff members?  

Many BIPOC staff that have worked in catering, the Multicultural Student Services department, Residence Life, Department of Public Safety and more have been facing disorganization and lack of clear communication from administration. Additionally, many staff and student workers are provided with little to no health benefits. (See The Echo’s “Augsburg Staff Announce Union, Request Voluntary Recognition” article for direct quotes from some staff.) This frustration felt by Augsburg workers thus led to the organizing of the Augsburg Staff Union.

Moreover, Augsburg’s budgeting plays a huge role in the wages and treatment staff receive. Many questions have risen in regard to Augsburg’s finances. For example, earlier this year during the 2020 spring term, a budgeting error led to a 1.7 million dollar shortfall, which in turn led to significant budget cuts across various departments. This spiral of missing money and debt impacts the lives of all staff on campus.

Furthermore, 20-40 staff members were laid off and furloughed over the summer, according to announcements given at a May 15 faculty and staff town hall. Amongst these layoffs was the position of the former director of International Student and Scholar Services. Former directors of Augsburg’s Pan-Afrikan Center and Latinx Student Services decided to leave their positions amidst the uncertainty. Though Augsburg claims to be a university that stands for diversity and inclusion, student support service staff, and especially BIPOC staff, are always the first to be let go. How can a university claim to represent diverse individuals while perpetuating this discrimination? 

The Staff Union is currently fighting against the conditions they have been facing in the workplace. Despite the people’s determination in addressing their concerns, evidenced by the union’s community support on social media, administration has not spoken about the staff union to the public so far. A lot of what the union is advocating for is being suppressed under Augsburg policies.

The administration is under fire, whether they acknowledge it or not. The way budgeting and leadership is being handled currently on campus does not and will not satisfy nor fulfil the needs of the staff and the students. The people in the Augsburg community know that the system is not working. There is a necessary call for change, reflection and growth for the betterment of everyone who identifies themselves with Augsburg.