U of M Clerical Workers Voting on Contract

Local 3800 member Mattie Robinson votes on a two-year contract that members won with months of organizing and unity.
Local 3800 member Mattie Robinson votes on a two-year contract that members won with months of organizing and unity.

University of Minnesota clerical workers from AFSCME Locals 3800 and 3801 are voting on a new two-year contract at sites across the state this week.

“Our members worked very hard to get a contract that provides salary increases each year and that meets the needs and priorities that we set going into negotiations,” says AFSCME Local 3800 president Cherrene Horazuk, who serves on Council 5’s Executive Board.

Through a series of actions with Teamsters Local 320, other unions, the P&A Senate (professionals and administrators) and students, AFSCME won:

  • 1.5 percent raises each year plus steps. (During bargaining, the University had offered a one-year contract, or a two-year contract with a 1.5 percent increase the first year and no raise the second year.)
  • A two-year contract.
  • No health insurance cost increases for workers.
  • Keeping language on bullying in the contract.
  • A “me too” agreement on expanded parental leave. The U is considering offering six weeks of paid parental leave to all parents, so if that passes, clerical workers would immediately get the benefit, too. That language would go into the next contract.

“It was a collective effort with workers all over the University, all campuses, all of the unions involved working together and saying, we deserve more. And not just letting the University set the parameters,” Horazuk says. “They just wanted us to give in. We stood strong.”

Local members attended several Board of Regents meetings in AFSCME green.

When the Regents decided not to hold a budget hearing to let the public testify, workers held one of their own outside.

Workers from multiple unions, along with students, P&A members and others protested together during the University’s $4 billion fundraising campaign kickoff.

They also protested at a gala, and they passed petitions.

Local 3800 member Marilyn Williams votes on a new contract at the University of Minnesota.
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A threat to pack a Regents meeting, along with the Teamsters strike authorization vote, were the final pressure points, Horazuk says.

“Taking action and standing together in a unified way benefits everybody,” she says.

Local 3800 Executive Board member Chandra Killebrew showed her unity Tuesday and Wednesday by helping out with the vote.

“It was important for me to be present, to be an example for my coworkers to vote,” she says. “Every vote counts.  Our contracts are really important to the way we work.”

Member Marilyn Williams, who has worked there for 35 years, says she was proud her union won more than the University wanted to offer. She signed petitions in support of the contract campaign and made sure she voted, even though she’s at the top of her scale.

“I want to support everyone else,” she says. “I really think it helps because it shows them we’re in support of each other.”

Only full members can vote. Feepayers can sign a membership card at a voting site to become eligible to vote.