Scrutiny of Shared Services Plan Intensifies at UT-Austin

TSEU Continues to Mobilize and Embarks on Organizing Blitz

The University of Texas at Austin closed its doors and cancelled classes on Friday, February 7th due to inclement weather.  The cold, icy conditions were not enough to deter several hundred students, TSEU members and other coalition partners from protesting the University’s proposed “Shared Services” plan which aims to close the door permanently on 500 staffers.  The UT Community Coalition as well as participants in the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) National Conference gathered with TSEU members at the UT Tower to rally against the Shared Services plan and to demand that UT permanently cut ties with Accenture, the outsourcing firm responsible for authoring the initiative.  Accenture, who received more than $200 million from Texas in the mid 2000’s in an attempt to privatize Health and Human Services that was ultimately defeated by TSEU members, has already received more than $4 million in contracts from UT for authoring plans to outsource and eliminate jobs at the University.

At the rally, TSEU Executive Board member and UT Lecturer Anne Lewis spoke about the importance of solidarity between students, workers, and the community in defending UT against corporate takeover.  She emphasized that we are stronger when we work together and that for UT workers, that means, “join the union.”  After the rally, USAS led the assembled participants on a march throughout the UT campus.  Protestors chanted loudly things such as “Hey Powers come off it, the people over profit” as the march weaved around the campus stopping on Guadalupe (The Drag) to dance in the street and sing a rendition of the Jackson 5’s “ABC” as traffic was forced to wait and watch the demonstration.

TSEU has led the way in mobilizing the UT Community against Shared Services and Accenture

The rally was the most recent in a series of coalition events that have been successful in drawing media attention to Shared Services.  TSEU and our coalition partners have been the driving force behind slowing down the implementation of the Shared Services plan and forcing the University to be more transparent.  In December, TSEU launched a new website,, which included a petition calling on the University to halt the draft “Shared Services” plan.  To date, more than 800 people from the University community have signed the petition.  Also in December, TSEU members Dana Cloud and Snehal Shingavi introduced a resolution to the UT Faculty Council calling on the University to halt Shared Services.  Their efforts laid the groundwork for a resolution that ultimately passed in January, calling on the University to share the details of the Shared Services plan with the public.

In response to the resolution and the TSEU’s mobilization campaign, the University was compelled to release information to the public regarding their plans.  It was revealed that eleven university departments had “volunteered” to be included in the Shared Services pilot program and that Accenture was paid $1,083,060 for its report to the Committee on Business productivity and $2,999,318 to assist with the Shared Services Planning Project.

Pressure continues to mount for the University to proceed cautiously and transparently with plans to implement Shared Services.  On February 20th, the UT Staff Council passed its own resolution clarifying that the council does not support layoffs and calling on the University to continue engaging with staff in town hall meetings throughout the entirety of the project.  That same day, the UT Graduate Student Assembly passed a resolution calling for more information on the Shared Services plan and calling for a graduate student employee to be added to the Shared Services Steering Committee.

Organizing will win this fight
The push from TSEU members and coalition partners has forced the University to become more transparent and to slow down the rollout of Shared Services, however, to date, UT has not given any indication that it is willing to abandon the plan.

On Wednesday, March 5th, UT President Bill Powers gave his approval for the University to move forward with the pilot program and released the Shared Services Steering Committee recommendations.”  Read Power’s statement here.

The only way to win this fight is to organize hundreds of new members into our union and increase the pressure on administrators.  On February 3rd, TSEU launched a 10 week long organizing blitz at UT with the goal of signing up 200 new members by April 11th.   Four weeks into the blitz, we have signed up 75 new TSEU members into the fight to stop Shared Services and Accenture’s corporate takeover of UT-Austin.  We know that only an organized workforce can harness the power that is necessary to defeat the likes of Accenture and those who would attempt to put corporate interests ahead of the UT community and the public good.

What to do now:

  1. Join the union! If you’re already a member, ask a coworker to join.
  2. Sign the petition against Shared Services at If you’ve already signed, ask your coworkers to sign it.
  3. Join COPE, TSEU’s political action fund. COPE is essential to building our political muscle so we can have a voice in the Legislature.