The University of Arizonas big hires and lucrative contract extensions in athletics Monday come while the University is scrambling to deal with a financial crisis.

University of Arizona workers feel they need to fight to protect themselves as the University cuts back.

At the University of Arizona, campus workers and the campus workers union have been very concerned they will be left behind as the university works its way out of a financial crisis. Some of this comes in the context of another, major high ranking hire at the university: a new athletic director.

Desiree Reed-Francois will make more than a million dollars a year as UAs Athletic Director. Under the Board of Regents financial recovery plan shell be expected to help eliminate the 32 million dollar deficit, athletics is adding to the overall shortage the Regents peg at about 177 Million.

The Regents recovery plan freezes most hiring but does allow hiring what it calls key administrators. It also allows hiring student workers.

United Campus Workers of Arizona says it represents about 500 campus workers at U of A. Rallies like the one on the mall aim to recruit more members so workers have more of a voice in how to steer through the financial shakeup.

Craig Smith asked UCW member Spencer Gantt: So what’s your leverage here?

Gantt: Our leverage is using workers power against President Robbins and the administration to have let us have a seat at the table instead of the false sense of self governance through a Staff Council and faculty senate which he habitually ignores.

Shared governance is the idea that faculty leaders are supposed to be able to influence university management. Its been part of state law for more than 30 years but a bill moving through the Arizona Legislature has the potential to repeal that law and concentrate still more power with the Regents.

Sadie Bender Shorr worries about how budget cuts could affect her work at Campus Health

We’ve been told that at least 5% of cuts to our budget. We’ve been in a deficit as well like other departments across the university, but we provide essential services, so mental health services, health care, and it’s pretty important that those services remain intact and have quality.

And Union members say mistakes made by upper management should not fall on the backs of workers who keep UA running day to day.