Syracuse University seeking successful conclusion to contract negotiations by June 30
Syracuse University seeking successful conclusion to contract negotiations by June 30June 28, 2001Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
Following many weeks of productive negotiations, Syracuse University administrators believe a new union contract for some 750 SU food service, physical plant and library clerical workers is achievable by June 30, when the current three-year agreement expires. “It is imperative that negotiations conclude, a ratification vote be held, and a new contract be in place by Saturday,” says Neil B. Strodel, SU associate vice president for human resources. “We communicated to the union leadership early and repeatedly that completing the talks on time is one of our primary objectives. Only once in recent memory has the deadline passed without a new agreement–in 1998. And that’s a situation we will not have happen again.” In the summer of 1998, contract talks dragged on through July and into late August and the beginning of fall classes. Then, on Aug. 31, the SEIU took the SU bargaining unit members out on strike. Over the ensuing six days, the University’s management staff and temporary workers filled the positions vacated by the union members, until an agreement was finally reached during Labor Day weekend. “No one gained from the work stoppage three years ago, and it’s fair to say that many people lost,” says Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw. “But one group in particular was negatively impacted by the strike–our students. The tension on campus and the disruption to classes and everyday life hurt them, and it especially affected the hundreds of first-year students who were going through what was already a very stressful and difficult transition, being away from home for the first time. “Leaving matters unresolved past June 30 creates uncertainty among students and parents, and shakes their confidence in the University and our ability to meet their needs,” Shaw says, “and that we can’t allow.” To ensure that the deadline would be met, both SU and the SEIU agreed to begin contract talks early, in April rather than in May. As of today, 15 negotiating sessions have been held and the two parties have reached tentative agreement on numerous issues that will improve contract understanding in: ? shift assignment and group leader assignments ? layoff and recall ? transfer and promotion ? skilled trades training assignment ? the grievance and arbitration process ? joint training efforts The bargaining committees are scheduled to meet again Friday. “In these final few days, we will continue to work hard to bring negotiations to a successful and mutually beneficial close with a strong working agreement for the University and the union,” Strodel says.