Union agreement depends on votes

On Nov. 24 the University and AFSCME reached a tentative agreement.

Angela Gray

This week the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees council will mail ballots to their local unions. The locals will vote on whether to accept the tentative agreement with the University.

On Nov. 24 the University and the AFSCME unions reached a tentative agreement after four months of negotiation.

The ballots containing the AFSCME locals’ votes on whether to accept the agreement will be collected and sent to the Board of Regents for ratification.

The AFSCME bargaining team and negotiator are reviewing the University’s language in the tentative agreement.

According to the agreement between AFSCME and the University, across-the-board wage increases (2 percent) will be retroactive to July 1.

Members of the technical unit will receive their step increase payback to Oct. 1. The clerical unit will receive step increases depending on each worker’s hiring date.

Since the tentative agreement was reached, there have not been any new developments with the contract, said Lori Vicich, director of communications for University Human Resources.

“There isn’t anything new or controversial; they (AFSCME) have been pretty quiet lately,” she said.

Vicich said the unions put together the contract linguistics and set the parameters for the final vote.

“The University is hopeful for a positive outcome,” she said. “The ball is in their court now.”

Candace Lund, AFSCME Local 3937 president, said that so far there has been good cooperation within the locals.

Lund said the union’s goal is to make sure the locals are well informed about the tentative agreement and the ballots are sent out.

She said the University has pressed the union representatives to inform their members and collect the ballots in a “timely” fashion.

Lund said it is “phenomenal” how quickly they have managed to inform their members and prepare the mailed ballots.

“We hope the University Human Resources sees that we made a good-faith effort to be expedient and implement our pay increases just the same,” she said.

Phyllis Walker, AFSCME Local 3800 president, said many of the locals still believe they deserve more than the 2 percent wage increase.

“I know I believe that we deserve more, but nevertheless, we are recommending our locals to accept the tentative agreement,” she said.

Walker said that after going on strike two years ago, the union representatives felt it was “awfully” early to ask people to go on strike again.

“There are many hardships on the clerical unit; our salaries are low to begin with, and people are still recovering and need time to catch up on finances,” she said.

Lund said the most frustrating part is getting the wages the unions “fought so hard for.”

She said a lot of people in unions end up seeing increases in their health care costs before they see the increase in their paychecks.

“We did our part, and now the University needs to do theirs,” she said. “The struggle is over; now people need their money.”