We Can't Survive , Much Less Thrive on 0.25%

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On Thursday, July 9th, we heard the University’s opening wage and health insurance proposals. Go to http://afscme3800.org/negotiations-2015-updates for a video update on the second round of negotiations and copies of 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.


Our webpage also includes an info flyer showing the disparities in pay and benefits between management and front-line staff at the U. Please download the flyer, post it in your work area, and share with your coworkers.


What about steps?

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.