AFSCME needs a reasonable contract

by Judy Grandbois — AFSCME clerical employee

IâÄôm writing to express my discontentment with the terms of the next American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union contract to be voted on. The University of Minnesota is shoving this contract down our throats, saying that this is their final offer.

One especially troublesome part of the contract says there will be no steps or wage increases in the first year, but steps and a 1 percent across the board increase in the second year.

This in itself is not the problem. The problem is that that the union agreed to forego raises for the entire contract, having been told that on July 1, 2011 raises would be reinstated.

That day came and went and we saw nothing. When the University was approached about this issue, it was more or less a âÄútoo bad, so sadâÄù answer. The union then had to take the University to court claiming a breach of contract.

The University proved that itâÄôs untrustworthy and unwilling to listen to reason. We have no reason to trust it will follow through on agreements in the new contract.

For so long, the University has been a warm and welcoming place for students, staff, visitors and dignitaries. Now it has become a thorn in our sides. WeâÄôve had administration that spends money foolishly, putting morale around the University at an all-time low.

IâÄôve worked at the University for 23 years. I certainly didnâÄôt start with the false idea that I was going to get rich. However, I didnâÄôt expect to make less and less money each year I worked there. IâÄôve always enjoyed working at the University because IâÄôve been able to see my handiwork when a frustrated student enters the office with a problem, and they are able to walk out smiling and happy.

When President Eric Kaler was hired, he said that the contract he agreed to was âÄúreasonable,âÄù according to Tim Post of Minnesota Public Radio. I wish that we as union members could say that the contract that we agreed to was reasonable.

WeâÄôre losing a living wage, meaning a minimum hourly pay that meets basic needs of living. Considering inflation, itâÄôs even tougher to make ends meet.

We are not asking for anything outrageous; we are just asking for a reasonable contract.