As one union reaches an agreement with the University, another waits in limbo

The clerical workers union pushed for higher wages and less steps to the top of the pay scale.

Demonstrators from Teamsters Local 320 gather outside Pioneer Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The group said that more than 30 University employees were unfairly laid off over the summer.

Cleo Krejci

Demonstrators from Teamsters Local 320 gather outside Pioneer Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The group said that more than 30 University employees were unfairly laid off over the summer.

Niamh Coomey and Hana Ikramuddin

After months of contract negotiations and demonstrations, unionized clerical workers have reached an agreement with the University of Minnesota.

After pushing for wage increases and a reduced number of steps to reach the top of the pay scale for workers, AFSCME Local 3800 members voted in favor of a tentative contract agreement with the University last week. The Board of Regents is now set to vote on the contract at their February meeting. The Teamsters Local 320, another union on campus, has been unsuccessful in negotiations, members said.

The University declined to comment on the AFSCME and Teamsters negotiations. 

AFSCME demonstrated at several University events last fall, such as a protest during President Joan Gabel’s inauguration and a walk-in during a regents meeting

These actions, as well as the support of students, faculty and others, helped the union reach their agreement, said AFSCME President Cherrene Horazuk. 

“That was a huge, huge sort of thing for our members to win,” said AFSCME Vice President Stephanie Taylor, referring to the 2.25 percent across-the-board raises that the union attained as part of the contract.

Negotiations with the University have been ongoing since July, Taylor said. This is fairly typical, Horazuk said, and recent contracts have had a similar timeline. 

Despite the successful end to negotiations, AFSCME will continue to push for higher wages, Horazuk said. 

“We will continue to fight to see the top of the wage scale go up,” she said. “We deserve more and want to see those increases go up.” 

Taylor said the tentative agreement includes a $500 payout for clerical workers who have been at the University for 15 years or longer as of this May.  

“We really pushed for recognition for long-term employees,” Horazuk said. 

Members also have plans to continue meeting with University management to discuss issues like University-wide changes that can be made to combat climate change.  They also plan to discuss ways to increase respect for transgender and gender non-conforming workers, Horazuk said, such as increasing the coverage of University health plans. 

The Teamsters Local 320 union went back to negotiations on Monday, according to Vice President Curt Swenson in an email to the Minnesota Daily. 

The meeting was not successful for the union, however, said Hannah Bernardson, Teamsters business agent.

The Teamsters have been in mediation with the University since last June.

The University gave a final offer, detailing the last agreements and compromises it would make, Bernardson said. 

In order to decide whether they will accept the deal, the Teamsters will need to gather votes from its members, which is expected to take until Feb. 24, Swenson said. If the group chooses not to accept the contract, they may strike.

“We have to have a meeting with the professional staff here at the [Teamsters Local 320] to figure out how we are going to proceed before we send the ballots home for voting,” Bernardson said.