Updated: 06/09/2014 5:47 PM
Created: 06/09/2014 5:07 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson
A couple dozen picketers marched around UW-Superior Monday, asking the administration to rethink possibly outsourcing their custodial and grounds crew positions to private companies.
The university needs to make up $4.5 million in either cuts or revenue over the next five years. Last month, the custodial staff and grounds crew received at-risk letters in response to the fiscal challenges.
Dave Johnstone has spent half his life at UWS. He is one of 28 people who work as a custodian or on grounds crew.
"I'm working on the grounds crew right now. I've been out here for six years and I was a custodian for 20, so I've got 26 years of service," Johnstone said.
Last month when he received the letter telling him his job is at-risk, he was shocked.
"26 years gone," he said.
Johnstone, along with 30 other UWS employees, alumni, and union leaders, rallied support around campus Monday.
Johnstone said most people don't understand everything they do on campus. He added they all share a deep pride in their job.
"We do a lot...pretty much anything they ask us to do we're there to do it," explained Johnstone.
Marty Beil with the Wisconsin State Employee's Union said that same pride will be hard to find in a private company.
"They are people of many talents and the university, in a very callous way, is saying we don't need you anymore, we're just going to put this out to the lowest bidder," said Beil.
The university, however, is still in the early stages of the process. Lynne Williams with UWS said they are six to eight weeks out from making any decision.
"It's really too early to tell. No decisions have been made and until we go through the bidding process we don't know financially where this falls," she explained.
Williams said the custodial staff is one area of many they are evaluating. Last month, UWS suspended several grad programs, outsourced the book store, and consolidated the marketing department.
Within the next few weeks, Williams said they will submit a package for bids from organizations. Those groups will have four weeks to make their bids and then the university will compare those potential costs to what they already have in-house.
Widespread Tree, Building Damage from Overnight Storms
People are cleaning up after storms across the Northland damaged trees, flipped docks and boats, and damaged some buildings early Tuesday morning. Winds destroyed a hanger at the Eveleth-Virginia Airport and the plane inside.
Multiple Campers Injured by Falling Trees in Northern St. Louis Co.
Campers in two separate areas were seriously injured by falling trees when a storm came through northern St. Louis County early Tuesday morning.
10,000 Homes, Businesses Still Without Power after Storm
At least 22,000 homes and business in northeastern Minnesota were without power immediately after a severe storms moved through the area early this morning. More than 10,000 remained without power as of late afternoon.
West Duluth Garage Fire Sparks during Early Morning Storms
A garage fire broke out in West Duluth early Tuesday morning as storms swept through the Northland. Flames fully engulfed the garage as the Duluth Fire Department responded. Downed power lines also brought Minnesota Power to the scene. No injuries were reported.
Teen Shot While Standing Outside Home
A 17-year-old girl was shot several times Monday night while standing on her deck in Eckles Township in Beltrami County. Authorities say they have a 40-year-old man in custody.