Ten days ago, the the faculty and staff at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), members of the American Federation of Teachers Local 212 (AFT 212), voted to forgo their 2009-2010 raise to ensure that the college would continue to serve all of its students.
The college's two other unions quickly passed similar resolutions.
MATC's enrollment has spiked as unemployment has soared in Southeastern Wisconsin. Yet revenues have fallen at the property tax dependent institution as home values have plummeted in Milwaukee and state aid has been cut by more than 50% since 1990.
Because of the unions' voluntary $5 million investment, MATC will not eliminate any sections or programs and will enroll all qualified applicants. (Full disclosure: I am the president of AFT Local 212 and have taught economics at MATC for 22 years.)
This is a fairly remarkable event in the history of the MATC board and the unions,” MATC Board Chair Lauren Baker said. "We tried to do everything we could to keep programming for students in tact." Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett issued a statement supporting the move.
"I applaud the MATC Board, Administration and the American Federation of Teachers Local 212 for the very reasonable settlement achieved today," the statement reads. "It’s clear they put services for the students at the forefront.”
The agreement between AFT Local 212 and MATC also received national attention when it was featured in Inside Higher Education.
In Florida, on the other hand, Miami Dade, one of the nation's largest two-year colleges, announced it would be forced to eliminate hundreds of class sections, and that as many as 5,000 students would be unable to enroll. Additionally 30,000 students may be unable to get the classes they need.
Miami Dade, in instituting the equivalent of an enrollment cap, announced that state budget cuts had also forced it to cancel upcoming open houses because it would not be able to admit students who had not already enrolled for the fall.