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Syracuse University unionized employees approve new three-year contract
Syracuse University and Service Employees International Union Local 200 United have agreed on a new three-year contract (running through June 30, 2004) for some 750 SU physical plant, food service and library workers. Bargaining unit members ratified the contract in a Tuesday vote.
“Success at the bargaining table is a plus for both SU and the SEIU,” says Neil Strodel, SU associate vice president for human resources. “Negotiators on both sides can take pride in forging compromises on difficult issues. We look forward to working with SEIU Local 200 United and their leadership.”
Both negotiating committees are to be congratulated on their dedication to reaching a fair bargaining agreement,” says Bob Connolly, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Local 200 United. “The process showed a commitment from both parties to work towards a relationship that is mutually beneficial.”
Connolly also notes that this is the first agreement between SU and SEIU Local 200 United; the previous three-year contract involved the University and SEIU Local 200A.
The contract terms are effective retroactively to July 1, 2001. The new agreement provides a general wage increase of 3.25 percent in year one and increases of 3 percent in 2002 and 2003. The minimum pay for bargaining unit employees has been increased to $7.75 per hour, in accordance with SU’s Fair Wage initiative announced last February. The minimum pay will increase to $8.50 as of July 1, 2002 and $9.01 as of July 1, 2003.
The complete agreement includes changes and refinements to 22 contract articles and appendices, including:
- a reduction in the number of steps in the wage rate plan making it possible for employees to reach the top step of their grade in six years in the Physical Plant and Food Services, and in five years in the Library; previously it would have taken up to eight years;
- changes to contract language that provide preference for schedule and shift assignments and group leader assignments based on seniority;
- improvements to the guidelines for using temporary employees to meet operational needs, including an agreement to add five full-time positions in Food Services to help decrease the University’s need for temporary employees;
- improvements to the labor/management article that should enhance our ability to resolve issues collectively;
- improvements to the grievance process; and
- new processes for identifying candidates interested in training opportunities and for establishing trainee pay rates, enhancing the University’s ability to provide realistic training opportunities and assignments.
The University also agreed to study the Service Employees Benefit Fund medical and dental plans and, if acceptable, implement them as additional health care plan options for bargaining unit members in years two and three of the labor agreement. This study will be part of an overall review of SU’s medical plans, the cost of which has been rising recently at a double-digit pace.
In light of the strike of 1998 and the difficult issues that needed to be addressed at the bargaining table, the negotiation period promised to be a tough one, says Jack Matson, SU director of staff relations and recruitment, but both bargaining committees were up to the task and worked cooperatively throughout the process.
“I was delighted that our University team and our union counterparts were able to work productively to reach an agreement before the deadline that met so many of the interests and objectives of both the University and the SEIU,” says Matson, who chaired the SU bargaining committee. “To achieve these results while also improving our working relationship lays an excellent foundation for more improvements in the years to come.”
The SU and SEIU bargaining committees came to agreement on a tentative contract the morning of June 30, following an all-night negotiating session-the 16th meeting of the contract talks, which began in April. Voting was delayed until Monday because of the Fourth of July holiday.