UMKC appeals to and depends on funds from the local community. But now, as we expand our library, UMKC won’t reinvest in local citizens to do the work. The university has hired a company that employs out-of-state ironworkers while local union and nonunion ironworkers go wanting for work.
I’ve been connected to UMKC as a student, fundraiser, and volunteer since 1981. As an ironworker and union man, I’m a Kansas Citian dedicated and active in many aspects of my community. And I can’t tell you how proud and happy I would be to build UMKC’s facilities.
UMKC public relations operatives may tell the public that the university has no control over who subcontractors hire. But UMKC administrators in charge of letting contracts could have stipulated—if they had thought for one minute about Kansas Citians who dedicate their time, tuition, and loyalty to UMKC—that labor for their renovations and expansions come from local sources first.
Fortunately, the out-of-state, nonunion workers benefit from local unions like mine through prevailing-wage laws, safety and worksite standards set by unions and their contractors, and by our local unions health and benefit packages (which nonunion out-of-state workers receive as wages, so they can buy private insurance out of their own pockets).
I appreciate the fact that my UMKC—and I do feel ownership because of my many years of loyalty and dedication—can put people to work through the tuition, fundraising, and volunteer efforts of hundreds, if not thousands, of people like me. I’m also grateful to our local unions and state laws that insure those out-of-state workers receive fair wages for their skill, experience, and effort.
But I am disappointed and insulted that UMKC can’t employ people who live here, work here, and contribute to UMKC’s well-being and financial health.
As a “consumer” of education, which is how UMKC treats its students these days, I would finish my Ph.D. with a university that made it a principle to invest in its local community. I am not, however, gives up and goes away in the face of injustice. I will begin to push to have UMKC become accountable to the community it serves in all cases. While local loyalty has never been a hallmark of Kansas City business, although that kind of “local” rhetoric is brought up about the time companies want tax breaks, it should be that of an institution of higher learning that depends so heaviliy on locals for its infrastructure, fundraising, and support.
1717 Jarboe St.
Kansas City, MO 64108
See also: UMKC Institute for Labor Studies