Second University union votes to strike

Eighty-eight percent of AFSCME voters in are favor of striking

ABy Jake Weyer A union representing 1,800 University clerical workers voted in favor of striking today, making it the second union of more than 1,000 University employees to vote to strike in the past two weeks.

Eighty-eight percent of voters from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800 voted in favor of striking.

The Teamsters Local 320 union, which represents 1,300 University employees in custodial, maintenance, food and trash service positions, voted in favor of striking Aug. 19.

The University is still hopeful that neither AFSCME Local 3800 nor Teamsters Local 320 will strike, said Carol Carrier, Office of Human Resources vice president. If a strike by either union does occur, Carrier said the University has plans to provide service as usual.

Depending on the size of the strike, remaining employees might have to take on extra work, she said.

“We’re certainly hopeful that it won’t come to that,” Carrier said.

AFSCME Local 3800 held its vote today to discover if members were serious about striking and to use that information in bargaining, said Phyllis Walker, AFSCME Local 3800 president.

“Our vote continues (to carry) the strong message that it’s time for the University to start negotiating,” she said.

Union members voted at booths throughout campus.

Brad Sigal, a clerical worker and AFSCME Local 3800 member who staffed a voting booth in the McNamara alumni center today said most voters seemed very confident when filling out their ballots.

But despite the landslide vote, not everyone who voted yes is ready to jump in a picket line.

“I just bought a house, so I don’t want to strike,” said Miriam DeRoode, an office specialist in the University’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. DeRoode said she voted in favor of striking in the hopes of encouraging the University to be more willing to negotiate.

“Hopefully it will give them a little kick,” she said.

Though AFSCME Local 3800 has never taken a strike vote before, the union votes regularly for contracts and officers. Walker said voter turnout was the highest it has been for any vote the union has taken since its creation.

AFSCME Local 3800 officials return to the negotiating table Tuesday. If negotiators do not reach an agreement, the union will take a second strike vote.

If members vote to strike a second time, the state and the University must be notified. Before a strike, the University must be given a 10 day cooling-off period to prepare.

Teamsters Local 320 can legally strike as soon as 12:01 p.m. Saturday. AFSCME Local 3800 is planning to allow its members to join picketing teamsters if a strike occurs this weekend, Walker said.

During their work shifts, AFSCME Local 3800 members cannot legally strike with teamsters.

Jake Weyer covers faculty and staff and welcomes comments at [email protected]