Letter to the Editor

Concerns about SEMO pay

Friday, May 28, 2010

More than 30 years ago I was a member of Teamsters Local 299, Jimmy Hoffa's local. I heard many stories about Mr. Hoffa from co-workers. The current situation at Southeast Missouri State University reminds me of one of these stories: Mr. Hoffa would constantly have employers claim that they could not afford to pay the current wage and needed to pay workers less than the official contract. Mr. Hoffa would literally tear up the proposal and throw it into the employer's face and say, "If you cannot afford to do business, close up your shop, because Teamsters do not make scab contracts."

Unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening at Southeast. Summer teachers of less-popular classes get fractional wages, as low as half the original wage. Summer teachers of more-popular classes are denied employment unless they endorse the scab contract. If a professor balks at signing the scab contract, they are replaced by a less-expensive, less-qualified individual. Highly qualified, experienced, tenured professors face a pay cut of up to 50 percent, or even denial of employment, if their course is deemed less popular. Because one way to increase a course's enrollment, thus increasing the teacher's pay, is to not increase rigor, all current and future Southeast students should be concerned about the possibility of declining quality of their education, and all Southeast alumni should be concerned about possible decline in the quality of their alma mater.

DAVID RITTER, Cape Girardeau