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.
Proposal May Change Coverage For Hearing Device Used By Cloquet Baby
A hearing system clipped to a pink headband is the only way a 10-month-old baby in Cloquet can hear. The device is currently covered by insurance, but Medicare is proposing to change its classification and coverage. The Dowell family is worried other insurance companies will follow.
Sheriff: Man Attacked Homeowner before Fatal Shooting
Koochiching County Sheriff Brian Jespersen says a man who shot and killed an intruder was defending himself and his mother, who had been attacked.
Update: Missing Hurley Man Found in Submerged Vehicle
Police say the body of a Hurley man missing for nearly a month has been found inside his submerged vehicle. Duane R. Jussila, 74, was reported missing on July 5. He had last been seen in Ironwood.
Former IRRRB Commissioner Gustafson Dies
Jim Gustafson, who represented Duluth in the state Senate and headed the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board for seven years, died July 23 at the age of 75. During his tenure, Gustafson helped complete Giant's Ridge Golf Course, negotiated the Northwest Airlines ticket reservation center, and cut Ironworld's subsidy by $1 million.
Folks Getting Ready For Christmas in July
It may be summer, but folks in Grand Rapids are getting ready for Christmas in July. Operation Christmas Child delivers shoe boxes full of goodies to kids around the world during the holidays. On Tuesday, people will get together at Grand Rapids Alliance Church to stuff shoe boxes and learn more about the project.