PFN supports the North Carolina chapter of the American Association of University Professors in opposing NC State Bill 575

FROM THE NORTH CAROLINA ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS (WWW.NC-AAUP.ORG)

Greenville, NC

Dr. Holden Thorp, Chancellor

Office of the Chancellor

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

April 1 2012

Dear Dr. Thorp,

State Bill 575 is currently in the North Carolina Legislature. If passed, it will severely reduce the rights of people working on the sixteen campuses of UNC, removing 22,000 employees from the legal guarantees and protections provided to all state workers under the State Personnel Act (SPA). This unfair double standard will be applied to UNC system-wide workers.

The Board of Governors for the UNC system would become the sole authority over workers, determining most employment parameters for SPA workers, including wages as well as grievance and disciplinary policies. A system of checks and balances on possible abuses would disappear.

Although guiding principles regarding the application of the provision are currently being shared with staff and faculty for feedback, it is our position that the guidelines do not adequately address a key concern: many workers think that this bill will stifle their voices by removing the objective higher authority of the state.

Employees will face potentially hostile work environments. They could be fired at the Board’s will, without the justification and legal redress options to which they are now entitled as State personnel. Employees who criticize working conditions or call for better wages could more easily be removed from their jobs for speaking up. As Executive board members of the North Carolina Conference of the American Association of University Professors we are concerned about the possible curtailment of workers’ rights to free speech.

Faculty know that a university cannot function without the hard work of thousands of staff members. It functions best when workers have more rather than fewer rights. This law would negatively affect the people we work with, our working and teaching environments, and the state as a whole.

We urge you to speak publicly about SB 575, to discuss its implications with faculty, staff and students at your campus, and to fairly represent the concerns of employees about this bill to the UNC Board of Governors during their upcoming meeting, and to legislators during their short session in May.

Please, feel free to contact any of us. Our concern, as yours, is to make sure that the UNC system continues to excel.

Sincerely,

Purification Martinez, East Carolina University, President, NC Conference, AAUP, martinezp@ecu.edu.

Willa J. Casstevens North Carolina State University, Vice President, NC-AAUP, wjcasste@ncsu.edu.

Dana DeSoto, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Treasurer, NC-AAUP, desoto@email.unc.edu.

Terrell A. Hayes, High Point University, Secretary, NC-AAUP, thayes@highpoint.edu.

David F. Ayers, UNC at Greensboro, Member-at-large, Public Institutions, NC-AAUP, dfayers@uncg.edu

Cheryl Brown, Greensboro College, Member-at-large, Private Institutions, NC-AAUP, cbrown@greensboro.edu

Martha McCaughey, Appalachian State University, Immediate Past-President, NC-AAUP, mccaugheym@appstate.edu

Cc: UNC President Tom Ross, tomross@northcarolina.edu

A similar letter was sent to all of the chancellors of the UNC System.

PFN letter opposing NC’s Amendment One

April 4, 2012:  Amendment One: a form of legal discrimination

TO THE EDITOR:

On May 8, citizens of North Carolina will vote on Amendment One. This amendment will do more than write a ban on same-sex marriage into the North Carolina constitution.

The amendment’s wording reaches much farther and will disrupt the lives of thousands of same-sex and different-sex couples and their families.

The proposed amendment states: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

This makes it clear that civil unions for both same-sex and different-sex couples will be banned in North Carolina. In addition, municipal governments that now grant health insurance benefits to same-sex and different-sex domestic partners and their children would not be allowed to do so.

Amendment One will harm thousands of heterosexuals in domestic partnerships, but it most directly targets people in same-sex relationships.

Over the years, many gay, lesbian and bisexual students have told us about the daily fears, homophobic slurs and physical and emotional abuse they suffer because of their sexual orientation.

Suicide rates among teens who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual is three to four times higher than for teens as a whole. In this climate, the last thing we need is a law that builds more discrimination into our state constitution.

The Progressive Faculty Network is concerned that Amendment One represents a step backward to the old days of legal discrimination against a whole category of people. To deny any category of people the right to live as full human beings is to treat them as less than fully human. Such laws always give rise to economic, physical, and emotional harms that should not be tolerated in a fair and just society.

Jeffrey M. Hirsch
Associate professor
UNC Law School

Sherryl Kleinman
Professor
Sociology