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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Republican state leaders withhold pay raises for Universities of Wisconsin employees

Withholding of pay raises is part of larger effort to cut DEI efforts, Senate Minority Leader says
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The Joint Committee on Employment Relations met Tuesday to approve a pay plan for state employees and state collective bargaining agreements. At the meeting, the JCOER withheld pay raises for Universities of Wisconsin employees, according to the Associated Press.

The JCOER, part of the Wisconsin State Legislature, is co-chaired by Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) and Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester).

In a statement released Tuesday, University of Wisconsin–Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin expressed disappointment in the legislature, saying that “withholding this well-deserved increase defies both reason and longstanding legislative tradition.”


Mnookin emphasized that the 24,000 UW–Madison employees who work in various roles across campus will be affected by the withholding of pay raises. She pointed to record high inflation in the United States last year as a critical reason to provide employees pay raises.

“By delaying action and thus withholding much-needed pay increases for our employees, JCOER harms those who directly contribute to keeping UW–Madison at the forefront of higher education institutions and help move Wisconsin and its economy forward,” Mnookin said in the statement.

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Mnookin urged members of the state legislature to work toward a solution.

Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison), who serves as the Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader, said the Republican-held majority contributed to the block of UW pay raises. Vos was the main contributor to blocking the UW pay raises, according to Agard.

Vos has been attacking DEI at the Universities of Wisconsin since May, attempting to get rid of all DEI positions through a budget cut of $32 million in July, according to previous reporting by The Badger Herald.

A rally was held to protest the attempted cut to pay raises and maintaining funding for DEI by UW-Madison and other state employees in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol Oct. 12. Various state employees expressed their distress that the programs they worked for were the reason the pay raises were being withheld.

“Speaker Vos does not believe in DEIto the point where he is punishing over 35,000 residents of the state of Wisconsin, people who show up every day, who are state employees and who work for UW,” Agard said. “Because [UW System President] Jay Rothman, is also at this point, working very hard to integrate DEI into the culture on our campuses.”

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In an email statement obtained by The Badger Herald, the United Faculty and Staff of Oshkosh and American Federation of Teachers said Vos has a particular disdain for DEI initiatives. The federation is dedicated to continue to foster a welcoming environment where students of all backgrounds can learn, despite efforts to cut DEI initatives, the statement said.

Agard said support for Vos lies along ideological lines, with most Republicans supporting the exclusion and most Democrats opposing the exclusion.

“Rep. Neubauer [D-Racine] and myself expressed our frustration at [what] Speaker Vos is doing here by holding pay increases hostage for the people who work for the Universities of Wisconsin schools,” Agard said. “This is not a decision that they’re making … this is something that their boss, that the University is doing. We think that is absolutely egregious.”

To move forward with pay raises, the JCOER could reconvene and schedule employee compensation packages for UW employees to be able to vote on the package, according to Agard.

Agard urged constituents to reach out to Sen. Kapenga and Rep. Vos to express their thoughts and concerns over the exclusion of UW employees in the vote for pay raises this week, to try and get the vote onto the calendar.

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