The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Proposal advocates for LTE benefits

In May 2009, Julia Lehman Caldwell sent out a survey in hopes of collecting data from campus employees. However, Caldwell’s inquiries did not have anything to do with technology on campus. Instead, she was looking for input from UW-Eau Claire’s limited-term employees about their jobs.

Caldwell, Building Information Technology Skills Coordinator for Learning & Technology Services, sent the survey to all campus LTEs – 144 individuals at that time or about 27 percent of staff or 13 percent of employees at the university – and received about 70 responses.

With the data she collected, Caldwell has advocated for LTE rights by helping to draft a proposal that would insure benefits for UW-Eau Claire’s LTEs.

“LTEs are a significant portion of our staff here on campus, and yet they aren’t recognized with the same rewards, wages or benefits that permanent staff receive,” she said.

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A LTE appointment is to carry out short-term or seasonal work and is limited to no more than six months of full-time work per year, according to a UW System press release. However, Caldwell’s survey revealed that the average length of a LTEs employment at UW-Eau Claire was 11.6 years and 54 percent of respondents reported working as an LTE for over three years.

The survey also showed that most LTEs working at UW-Eau Claire are women. At the time of the survey, 72 percent of UW-Eau Claire’s LTEs were female.

Finally, the survey showed that many individuals holding limited-term positions worked long term without benefits. It was also shown that most did not earn a living wage.

Other than the survey findings, Caldwell said there are other issues with being an LTE. For example, LTEs do not have vacation time, sick leave or personal and legal holidays. They also have no representation, which means they can be fired at any time, for any reason. They are also legally forbidden from organizing in groups such as unions.

Now, in hopes of achieving more equity for LTEs, Caldwell has joined the Commission for the Status of Women in writing a proposal they hope to soon submit to Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich.

The document proposes but is not limited to the following: divisions should conduct regular performance-based wages increases for LTEs, set a performance review schedule, pay LTEs a living wage and create an excellence award comparable to those that are awarded to other staff and faculty members.

“We can’t recommend that we give LTEs vacation time or other benefits beyond what the UW System and state law let us offer,” said Tereasa O’Halloran, assistant to the chancellor for Affirmative Action and Commission for the Status of Women member. “In my mind and in the commission’s mind, we can be flexible when LTEs need time off; even if they’re not getting paid for it, give them the time.”

The proposal also suggests converting LTE positions into permanent positions wherever possible. This is an idea, DeAnne Swenson, a woman who worked as an LTE on campus for over 10 years, can get behind.

“If you’ve been there for more than five years, you’re showing that that department needs you in that position, so why can’t you be granted a full-time position?” she said.

Caldwell said she thinks the proposal is a good place to start, but there is more work that needs to be done in the future.

“In my opinion, at some point to truly model what we teach with the goals of a liberal education and equity, diversity and inclusiveness, we truly need to take a stand on this issue and treat people equitably,” she said.

In the future, Caldwell said she would like to see UW-Eau Claire follow in the footsteps of UW-Madison. Though Caldwell said this is a UW System and state-wide issue, UW-Madison is the only campus in the UW System to address the problem. She said UW-Madison has enacted legislation to ensure that LTE positions are truly seasonal or limited and has created a process to make long-term LTE employees into full-time workers.

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Proposal advocates for LTE benefits