AFSCME ends strike

AFSCME members will collect a $300 lump-sum payment each year.

Tom Moran

After spending more than two weeks on picket lines, the University’s striking employees are returning to work this week.

The negotiating committee for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees accepted the University’s offer late Thursday night after 15 hours of negotiations.

Phyllis Walker, president of the AFSCME Local 3800 clerical workers, said it was ultimately concern for the financial well-being of union members and the approaching loss of health-care coverage that forced an end to the strike.

The union’s negotiating committee accepted an offer they had previously rejected.

The settlement awards an annual 2.25 percent raise for clerical and technical workers and a 2.5 percent raise for health-care workers. Union employees will also receive a step increase of about 2 percent.

AFSCME members will collect a $300 lump-sum payment each year. Union members at the top of their pay scale, which is about 6 percent of the union, will receive an additional $300 payment instead of the step increase.

AFSCME members with voting rights will decide whether to accept the contract offer in early October, Walker said. The

negotiating committee is sending the offer to members without recommendations.

Barbara Bezat, president of the AFSCME Local 3937 technical workers, said striking workers lost a combined $1.82 million in wages because of the work hours they missed.

“We are pleased this strike has ended and appreciative of the union’s willingness to take this proposal to their membership for a vote,” University President Bob Bruininks said in a statement Friday.

University spokesman Dan Wolter declined to comment.

AFSCME frustrated

Executive Operations and Student Services Specialist Polly Peterson said the strike and negotiating process were frustrating.

Peterson, a University employee for 30 years, said she loves her job and is glad to go back to work but was upset when she left negotiations Thursday.

She said the meeting was exasperating because the University refused offers from the union and a mediator.

“It became clear to us that the University wasn’t negotiating in good faith,” Walker said.

Bezat said the union has fallen behind every time they have accepted a settlement in recent contract years.

Union leaders said the striking employees have been brought together over the past few weeks.

“I feel proud and honored to lead a group of workers who are willing to stand up and fight,” Walker said.