Union holds rally as negotiations continue with U

Approximately 100 union members and supporters spent their lunch hour Tuesday rallying on Northrop Mall to protest the University’s proposed health-care increases, wage freezes and benefits reductions.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800, the union representing 1,800 University clerical workers, organized the rally. The union is one of four currently in contract negotiations with the University.

Several people spoke at the rally, including former University employees and union members from AFSCME Local 3800 and Teamsters Local 320, the union representing approximately 1,400 University custodial, maintenance, food and trash service employees.

The teamsters local will vote whether to accept a contract proposal created by a state mediator.

David Skeie, a union member and janitor in the Mayo Building, said at the rally he hopes the proposal is “resoundingly refused.” He said he doesn’t know anyone who likes the proposal.

Teamsters 320 head Sue Mauren said no details of the proposal have been released to members.

“If (union members have) heard anything, they’ve heard it through the grapevine,” she said.

Although Mauren said the proposal does not adequately address all the teamsters’ issues, she is reluctantly recommending it.

The teamsters will begin holding meetings to discuss the proposal next week, and a vote will be taken by mail to decide whether to accept it, Mauren said. It could be three or four weeks before the voting process is completed, she said.

Carol Carrier, vice president for the University’s Office of Human Resources, is hopeful that when teamsters study the proposal, they will vote to accept it.

AFSCME Local 3800 members at the rally said they will not be deterred from striking if the teamsters agree to the proposal.

“From my point of view, that makes me feel stronger,” said Jeanne Bischoff, a clerical employee in the McNamara alumni center and AFSCME Local 3800 member. “Somebody needs to take a stand.”

Sarah Lang, an office specialist in the University’s cultural studies department and an AFSCME Local 3800 member, said she is prepared to strike if no changes are made to the University’s proposed health-care increases.

“That’s the most important issue for us,” she said. “We’re not going to take what they’re offering now.”

The rally on Northrop Mall attracted attention from some students passing by.

Dave Miller, an education senior, stopped by Northrop Mall between classes. He said he doesn’t know much about the union issues but said a strike won’t prevent him from attending class.

“I feel for them, but I’m here to go to school,” he said.

The University’s Socialist Alternative Club supported the union at the rally and passed out stickers and flyers.

AFSCME Locals 3800, 3937 and 3260 began a round of negotiations Tuesday that will continue through this week.