Unionized maintenance employees ratify contract with CMU

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has ratified its new three-year collective bargaining agreement with Central Michigan University on Friday.

According to the terms of the agreement, the contract gives workers three major benefits effective through June 30, 2017. The benefits consist of a two percent wage increase in the first year of the contract, an increase of 10 to 11 percent in the employee contribution to healthcare premiums and adjustments to both categories in the second and third years that match those granted to professional and administrative employees.

“Apparently a majority of (the members) were satisfied enough that they voted to pass it,” said AFSCME President Tobin Hope.

Hope was hesitant to get into detail about how satisfied the union members were with the contract, instead saying the final vote reflected their feelings.

AFSCME Local 1568 represents the university’s 188 service maintenance employees, which includes on-campus custodial staff, groundskeepers, skilled trades and warehouse workers. The contract agreement was reached just in time: Agreements made prior to July 1 avoids the provisions of Michigan Public Act 54, which bans retroactive payment of wage benefit increases.

CMU’s non-unionized professional and administrative staff will receive a matching two percent wage increase on July 1.

AFSCME is run by its members. Every member has a vote in the election of local union officers, and board members.

Members also vote on contract approval or rejection. Hope did not disclose how close the vote was and said he could not speak for all of the CMU members of AFSCME. He added that a lot of them felt the deal was a “a good enough package to approve, so we did.”

He also said there were “compromises on both sides.”

The conditions of the contract are determined by the membership as a whole with the executive board. A bargaining team is elected to handle negotiations with the university’s human resources department.

Kevin Smart, director of human relations, handled negotiations on CMU’s end.

Aside from maintenance workers, AFSCME is also the largest union of secretarial and clerical workers, social workers, correction officers, health care and hospital workers and over 100,000 school employees across the nation.

“It’s a process, this one took a little longer than some of them do,” Hope said. “They were very respectful of us and we were very respectful of them.”



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