University passes two-year contract of Teamsters Local 320

The employees will have a wage freeze in 2009-10 and receive a 2 percent increase in 2010-11.

The contract for Teamsters Local Union 320 has been finalized, ensuring that they will take a wage freeze in 2009-10 and receive a 2 percent increase the following year. Though a union official said the agreement may not have met the unionâÄôs needs, they did not have high hopes for negotiations and decided to settle. The union represents approximately 1,500 service, maintenance and labor employees, which includes mechanics, food service workers, custodians and others. The average yearly salary is $36,000. Negotiations on the contract, effective July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011, began in April and ended with a tentative agreement on June 11. The union went through the voting process to ratify the agreement before it could be approved and finalized by the University last week. The agreement is similar to the tentative one AFSCME Local 3800 reached, which still has to be passed by the Board of Regents to be finalized. The pay freeze is in conjunction with the wage freeze across the University, but the 2 percent increase in 2010 is less than the 3 percent the union received each year in 2007 and 2008. Teamsters Local 320 Principle Officer Sue Mauren said the agreement isnâÄôt what union members would like to have seen, but they understood the difficult situation the University was put in with Gov. Tim PawlentyâÄôs unallotments. âÄúItâÄôs an agreement that I donâÄôt believe people really feel meets their needs as far as the rising standard of costs of living,âÄù she said. âÄúTheir wages are not rising at the same rate as the cost of living is rising.âÄù She said union members passed the agreement by a large margin, but doesnâÄôt think they had âÄúhuge expectations in this yearâÄôs contract.âÄù Director of Employee Relations Patti Dion said Board of Regents CFO and Treasurer Richard Pfutzenreuter spoke to the negotiating teams about the budget and the state of finances before the two groups met several times to negotiate and exchange proposals. The 2 percent increase, she said, was consistent with the budget modeling for the University. âÄúI would say that it was surely a challenging year and a difficult time to be coming to the table because of the financial impact on the University,âÄù she said. âÄúWe are very appreciative of the acknowledgement the union gave to these trying times and their working with us to find a resolution. No one was especially happy to have a wage freeze, but they recognized the reality of the University.âÄù Assistant Director of Labor Relations Robert Altman was the lead negotiator for the University. He said this year differed because of the UniversityâÄôs financial situation. âÄúThe University doesnâÄôt have a lot of money,âÄù he said, âÄúso we had a limited amount of money we could offer.âÄù The negotiation process was quicker than in previous years, he said, but thereâÄôs no standard length of time. Altman said he thinks the process took less time this year because both parties understood money was tight. âÄúThere wasnâÄôt a lot of money for the parties to talk about in negotiations,âÄù he said. âÄúEverybody recognized the serious nature of the financial condition.âÄù Dion said non-economic terms in the contract included changing job families in the Teamsters unit, such as combining several classifications into one, deleting classifications that were no longer used and updating job descriptions.