This treaty is a start. However, our work is not yet finished. This treaty does not represent the full extent of what our workers earn, and wage increases in particular do not recognize rising inflation and the reality of overwork and undervaluation. Nevertheless, we fought hard enough and won to reach this agreement. We have made the decision to accept a one-year agreement, in large part, so that next year we can negotiate the wage increases we need and deserve. We are ready to return to the negotiating table in early 2022 to begin negotiations on the next treaty. We have adopted our proposals in their entirety and have reluctantly abandoned a number of lower-priority items in order to focus on higher-priority issues in this round of negotiations. We have made it clear to the EU that the articles we have abandoned this year will be put back on the table in future rounds of negotiations. The U,S., on the other hand, has done very little and has made no progress on any of our most important proposals. They finally suggested that we move the language from the back of the treaties to the contract text in a number of sections of the MOU so that they would be easier to find – but that`s more housekeeping than anything else. Miley Worker is the recipient of a 2021 AFSCME National Family Scholarship and the daughter of Tim Worker, a member of AFSCME Executive Council 31 and President of Local 993. We presented the university with a comprehensive agreement in which we offered to abandon several smaller proposals that are still on the table and accept a one-year contract if they meet our remaining demands. Although they had no proposals on the table, Team U feigned frustration that we were only demanding things we needed for our members.
Members of Eastern Illinois University`s AFSCME Local 981 fought long and hard for a new union contract that would protect their jobs and increase their wages. The university`s lack of movement on key issues and its decision to extend the negotiations left us with no choice but to use a mediator. Mediation was usually the last step in our negotiation process. We didn`t need a mediator to reach an agreement for our last contract, and we had hoped that it wouldn`t be necessary this time around. However, we believe that a mediator will be useful in moving our process forward more quickly and systematically. After an hour of teaching us how grateful we should be to have a job, the university`s leadership team brought their 4 points to the table. This includes maintaining letters of intent at the end of the contract and correcting typos. Their only substantive proposals are a proposal for a one-year contract and not the usual two-year contract and a general salary adjustment of 1%. This is a far cry from the 5% annual increase that we deserve and have proposed.
This commemorative video of the AFSCME members we have lost since our last convention in 2019 was released at the convention on October 15, 2021 and features a great performance by Renee Barnes, who is on the staff of our international union. They claimed that general issues such as benefits, disciplinary procedures, and work/scheduling agreements fall under so-called management rights – in short, it was a lot of “no, we`re not going to talk about it”. The U`s bargaining team seems confused about the difference between employee advisory groups and contract negotiations and often suggests that we go through the Office of the High Representative or the Advisory Committee on Benefits. We don`t just ask questions in the form of suggestions. These are proposals for negotiation. We are your UMN AFSCME bargaining committee and we are fighting for the contract and the job we all deserve: until now, the university was not willing to negotiate salary increases for the second year of our contract. Your last proposal, which we reject, concerns a two-year contract in which we would simply accept `anything budgeted for other groups of workers`. We are firm in our call for a two-year contract with increases every year to ensure that people do not fall behind economically. Inflation is currently at 6.5%, and rising costs of staple foods and transportation are having an outsized impact on low-wage workers. We have said unequivocally to the university that we need to move forward, not fall behind.
In addition to the proposals for all AFSCME contracts, Unit 4 health workers have a number of specific proposals for their contract. The university tries to haggle with us, but we know how much the uniforms cost! We are at a $250 counter to include prescribed taxes. We proposed an adjustment of the zone to bring health care workers to the appropriate stage that reflects their years of service and experience, and for an increase in the annual career bonus. .