University and union unable to find agreement

Negotiations lasting into the morning hours ended without concrete results.

Angela Gray

After another round of negotiations last week, the University and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union members could not reach an agreement.

Negotiations began at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and ended at 3:30 a.m. Friday with the mediator releasing both sides without a tentative agreement.

During negotiations, AFSCME union representatives declared their final offer to the University.

The final offer dropped all non-economic proposals and suggested the University match the workers’ salary increases for the next two years to the agreement they made with the Teamsters bargaining unit in August.

Phyllis Walker, AFSCME Local 3800 president, said the group’s mission is to have wage and insurance proposals mirror the Teamsters settlement.

The University Teamsters settled for a 2.5 percent wage increase and retroactive pay back to July, a 2 percent wage increase for 2006, 1 percent for 2007 and a signing bonus, said Candace Lund, AFSCME Local 3937 president.

According to AFSMCE union workers, the workers spent a long time analyzing what money was available in the Teamsters contract and what everything meant.

Lund said the long hours spent negotiating were frustrating because the University’s proposal at 3:30 a.m. was no different than the one at 8:30 a.m.

Walker said the AFSCME members crafted their final proposal and would not compromise or lessen their proposal.

The AFSCME union members are still united and fighting strong, despite the split of the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations, she said.

“Some unions decided to break apart from the leadership, but there are still a large number of AFSCME union workers, and many still want to work together to achieve a common goal,” Walker said.

Lori Vicich, director of communications in University Human Resources, said progress was “definitely made” in the negotiations.

“We are remaining extremely optimistic,” she said.

Walker said, “Everything is very stressful at this point. Our union members depend on us.”

Lund said the University will not raise its wage increase proposal and the union members will not lower theirs.

“It’s already October, we want to be done and go home,” she said.

The next mediation day is set for Nov. 14.