Negotiations 2015 Updates

Contract Negotiation Update: Tentative Agreement Reached

 

Tentative Agreement Reached:

For the past six months, our clerical bargaining committee repeatedly heard from the University administration that they had budgeted only 0.5% for raises for clerical workers, that two weeks of paid parental leave was sufficient for our families, and that they weren't interested in discussing, much less addressing any of our other priority issues. Finally, yesterday brought a breakthrough. 
 
Management's committee came to the table yesterday, December 10 with proposals to address our top priorities and our need for raises and respect. Yesterday afternoon, our clerical bargaining committee reached a tentative agreement with the U of MN, and we are recommending approval by our membership. 
 
Highlights of the agreement include:
  • Year One: 1.5% general increase effective June 29, 2015
  • Year Two: 1.5% general increase for those within the salary range and a 2% general increase for those at the range maximum, effective June 13, 2016
  • A $15 minimum wage for all clerical positions, effective June 29, 2015
  • Six weeks of paid parental leave for birth mothers 
  • Memorandum of Understanding to address workplace bullying
  • No insurance plan changes for 2016 or 2017. No premium increases for health insurance and minimal premium increases in dental insurance for 2016.
 
Go to https://youtu.be/EFsVHfdbslY for a video update from our bargaining committee.
 
Informational meetings:
We will be holding informational sessions throughout the University over the noon hour beginning next week to discuss the terms of the agreement in greater detail. An email will be sent out once the schedule is finalized.
 
Voting on the agreement:
Paper ballots on whether to accept the tentative agreement or to reject the agreement and authorize a strike will be sent to the home addresses of members. Fee payers are not allowed by law to vote on the agreement. If you are a fee payer and would like to become a member of our union and to vote on the agreement, please email afscme3800@gmail.com or call 612-379-3918 and a membership card will be brought to you.
 
 
This agreement was reached due to the dedicated and ongoing actions of our members; our unified contract campaign with Teamsters 320, AFSCME Locals 3937, 3801, and 3260; the solidarity from faculty, students, and non-unionized staff at the University; and our community and union allies around the state. 
 
We are proud of this agreement, and believe it begins to close the gap between the haves and have nots at the University, but we know there is still work to be done. We rededicate ourselves to the ongoing effort to make this a University where all workers, not just those at the top, are able to make real economic progress.

Negotiation Update #7 - U still has not moved on our priority issues

On Tuesday, September 29, our bargaining team met with management for the seventh round of negotiations. Our members joined the negotiations session to give their personal testimonies in support of our top four negotiation priorities: 1} dignified wages; 2} parental leave equity; 3} restoration of the Regent’s Scholarship; and 4} addressing workplace bullying. We left the bargaining table with one small agreement but did not move further on other negotiations and are now moving to mediation.

Update #6 - August 25, 2015

On Tuesday, August 25, our bargaining team met with management for the sixth round of negotiations. Management came into bargaining today & once again made no moves on wages & indicated that they have no interest in agreeing to any of our contract proposals. They specifically said, "the contract as it stands works for management" and they're only interested in housekeeping issues and not interested in "extraneous" proposals.

 
Of course, none of our proposals are in the least bit "extraneous" but rather of critical importance to our members. When we argued for our proposals management grew frustrated & abruptly ended the meeting. It is clear that the U is unwilling to move without significant pressure from our membership. It is essential that we increase pressure on Management  in the weeks ahead. Please look for emails, at our website & Facebook for info on upcoming actions. We need to use all avenues at our disposal. We will be filing for mediation & return to bargaining at the end of September. We need to make it clear to Management that sweeping these vital issues under the rug is the epitome of POOR HOUSEKEEPING.

 
 

If you haven’t done so, please add your name to an email petition to Administration with our message: we can’t survive--let alone thrive--on 0.375%.


Please share this update and video with your coworkers and encourage them to stay informed on negotiations. As we continue bargaining, it's more important than ever for unionized workers to support each other and stand in solidarity so that we can win the respect and raises we need and deserve.
 

Update #5 - August 13, 2015

 

On Thursday, August 13, our bargaining team met with management for the fifth round of negotiations. The University said no to everything. They found different ways to say no to our contract language proposals.

 

We focused on contract language proposals regarding parental leave, Regent’s Scholarship, bullying and job security.

 

Parental Leave: The negotiating team pointed out the inequities among employee groups: 2 weeks of leave for Union and Civil Service employees and the 6 weeks for P&A and Faculty. The Administration said that the 2 weeks of leave in our contract is enough to take care of families.

 

Regent's Scholarship: Our proposal calls for the University to reinstate the Regent’s Scholarship to full coverage regardless of degree being pursued. Not only would this not cost the University anything, it would be a revenue boost as we would pay for books and fees.

 

Job security: Our proposal calls on the University to reduce the number of months a person serves probation. Under our proposal when an employee receives a promotion or demotion, the number of months on probation would go from 6 months down to 3 months. When an employee comes off the layoff list, probation would drop to 2 months. New employee probation would stay at 6 months.

 

Bullying: According to the Administration, what one person thinks or feels is bullying, might not really be considered bullying. We feel that when a report of bullying is made, the University fails to follow through. We are seeking accountability; we are looking for follow through on the part of the University.

 

The negotiating team requested to have contract language to address and have a proper process to deal with bullying from supervisors. The University was not interested negotiating bullying language and responded with “there is no official definition of bullying.” Hennepin County, the state of Minnesota and local school districts ALL have a definition for bullying.

 

The University Administration needs to continue hearing from clerical workers that 0.375% is not an acceptable wage increase. Thanks to everybody who sent messages to President Kaler, Vice President Brown, and Regents Chair Johnson.  We believe that the administration increased their proposal because of these emails, and will put more money on the table if they continue to hear from us.

 

If you haven’t done so, please add your name to an email petition to Administration with our message: we can’t survive--let alone thrive--on 0.375%.


Our next round of bargaining will be on August 25. Please share this update and video with your coworkers and encourage them to stay informed on negotiations. As we continue bargaining, it's more important than ever for unionized workers to support each other and stand in solidarity so that we can win the respect and raises we need and deserve.
 

Update #4 - July 21, 2015

On Tuesday, July 21, the University upped their wage proposal to 0.375% each year. This adds about 2.5 cents/hour per worker to the original proposal of 4.9 cents/hour per worker. This is outrageous! The U negotiator also made clear that they don't intend to discuss or move on wages at the next bargaining session on August 13.

The University Administration needs to continue hearing from clerical workers that 0.375% is not an acceptable wage increase. Thanks to everybody who sent messages to President Kaler, VP Cathy Brown, and Chair Johnson earlier this week. We believe that the administration increased their proposal because of these emails, and will put more money on the table if they continue to hear from us.

If you haven’t done so, please add your name to an email petition to Administration with our message: we can’t survive--let alone thrive--on 0.375%.

Update #3 - July 09, 2015

On Thursday, July 9th, we heard the University’s opening wage and health insurance proposals.

The Administration proposed a general (also known as across-the-board) increase of 0.25% per year. A 0.25% raise for our 1621 clerical workers is worth $158,311 a year. To put that in context, over 220 administrators have salaries higher than what the U wants to spend on raises for 1600 people. Even the University’s negotiator acknowledged, when making this proposal that, “the across-the-board proposal is not very good.”

Our negotiating committee told the administration’s committee what our priorities are, but it’s important that the administration hear from clerical workers in all areas of the University. If you think the 0.25% across-the-board increase is unacceptable, please add your name to an email petition calling upon the administration to show respect for frontline staff and provide real raises. We are back in bargaining on Tuesday afternoon, so please sign your name today.

The administration continues to state that they are including our step increase, which we receive on our anniversary dates and which average 2%, into their budget formulations for raises. However, they do not include the significantly greater pension contributions for P&A employees into their budget formulations. P&A employees receive 10-13% biweekly contributions for their pensions (calculated at their much higher salaries), while unionized and civil service workers receive 5.5% employer contributions. The administration says it’s only fair to take step increases into account when considering raises, but then refuses to take pension contributions into account. This is just one more example of the University administration creating two Universities - one where those at the top move further ahead, while those at the middle and bottom fall further behind.

We believe that the vast majority of faculty and staff at the University want one University that works for everybody. Our union’s proposals in contract negotiations, which we presented to the administration in early June reflect that perspective. Key proposals include:

  • 5% cost of living increases each year of the contract

  • A $15 minimum starting wage for all positions

  • Raising the top of the pay scale

  • Full restoration of the Regents Scholarship, regardless of degree status

  • Six weeks paid parental leave, regardless of the parent's gender

When will clerical workers get raises?

AFSCME members receive two types of salary increases: an automatic step increase and the negotiated across-the-board increase. The step increase for clerical workers is a 2% increase that is received automatically on your anniversary date until you reach the top of the pay scale. The intention of the step increase is to recognize and reward workers for the increased skills and ability you develop each year on the job. Steps are contractually guaranteed and will continue to be paid while negotiations take place. If you do not receive your step on your anniversary date, please let us know.

Unionized workers negotiate the amount of our across-the-board raises (or general increase), rather than having raises determined and imposed from above (which is what happens with faculty, P&A and Civil Service staff). The upside of this is that we can and do push for more than what is merely budgeted. The challenge is that the U generally won't even talk about wages until the state allocation has been determined and the budget has been ratified by the Board of Regents (which takes place in June). Negotiations began in June, and we didn’t receive the University’s opening wage and insurance proposals until July 9. We are scheduled to return to the table on Tuesday, July 21; we have bargaining dates scheduled through August and are currently working to schedule dates for September. Contract negotiations have typically culminated in late September or October.


We will receive our general (or across-the-board) wage increases once our new contract has been fully negotiated and voted on by our membership. Raises will then be retroactive to the beginning data of the contract (July 1). Once the contract has been agreed upon by our members and the Board of Regents, people will receive back-pay for the salary increases from July 1 to whatever the ratification date is.

 
 
During this round, the University did not respond on wages or benefits. They said they won’t give us an economic proposal until late this month after the regents meet. They did respond to our language proposals however and the answer was no to each and every one. On parental leave, the employer said that everyone gets two weeks paid leave, and that additional time paid is different for employee groups. However, ours is paid out of sick leave if we have it. For P&A, the additional four weeks is paid by the University.

On several issues such as AFSCME members being replaced by students or other workers, bullying, and time for religious holidays, managers said they want to know what's going on, however they refused to agree to a contractual process to deal with those very issues. 

Please come to one of our informational meetings this week to learn more. Check our website for meetings for times and locations. It’s clear from today that management has little respect for our needs. That’s all the more reason to support each other and stand in solidarity. That’s the only way we’ll make progress towards the respect and raises we need and deserve.We also ask you to be part of the negotiations process. 

Update #1 - June 3, 2015

Negotiations for the 2015-2017 contract between AFSCME 3800/3801 and the University of Minnesota formally opened on June 3, 2015. Our union committee presented our proposals, which were determined by surveying clerical workers system-wide regarding needs, issues, and priorities. The proposals were then finalized and ratified by the Clerical Assembly - an elected committee of over 100 clerical workers statewide. Our message to the University administration was simple: we need raises and respect; we bargain for our families; and we deserve equity in benefits with other employee groups.  Key proposals include:
  • 5% cost of living increases each year of the contract
  • A $15 minimum starting wage for all positions
  • Raising the top of the pay scale
  • Full restoration of the Regents Scholarship, regardless of degree status
  • Six weeks paid parental leave, regardless of the parent's gender
Please watch a video summary of negotiations. Below view copies of our opening proposal as well as the University administration's opening proposal.
 
The University proposals were minimal. They have repeatedly told us that they are not willing to talk about financial issues (wages, health care, etc.) until after the Board of Regents finalize the budget on June 24
 
We are working closely with Teamsters and the other AFSCME locals on campus to push the University to prioritize the economic needs of frontline staff. We will be testifying at the Board of Regents Public Hearing on the Budget on June 12 from 12:30 to 1:30, and invite you to join us. 
 
We also ask you to be part of the negotiations process. Please share this update and video with your coworkers. Members are encouraged to join the Clerical Assembly to be part of the strategic decision-making. Be a part of organizing for Raises and Respect! To join the Assembly or for more information, contact President Cherrene Horazuk or Organizer Marie Dino.