We’ve commemorated a few anniversaries in the past several months. Our founding, our election, our victory. Today’s anniversary is both momentous and frustrating. It has been one year since we first sat down with the administration to bargain our contract. That first meeting was nothing short of a big deal. For the first time in our university’s history, staff met the administration as true equals, with full opportunity to communicate honestly without fear of retaliation. It was the culmination of over a year’s worth of work just to get to that point.
We soon found out that the administration had a different outlook on the occasion. We submitted our proposals–nearly an entire contract, including substantive proposals on wages, healthcare, benefits, and leave–and the administration responded with their edict that has remained in place until today: “We’re not interested in the union’s proposals.” Our proposals seek to drastically reduce turnover, with the goal of increasing average staff tenure to longer than average student tenure. Is the administration uninterested in solving this problem with us?
Contracts don’t happen overnight. It takes time for both sides to consult their constituencies and to craft language that reflects their goals and compromises. To that end, we’ve gotten a lot done in a year! On several occasions we’ve even had truly frank and honest discussions with the administration’s team. But what remains to be negotiated is a stark reminder that the administration isn’t treating staff as a priority. We want them to see that staff turnover–caused by the compensation and workload situation that we’re seeking to improve–adversely affects students.
We still have not discussed wages and healthcare in a meaningful way. The administration has had our proposals in hand for 365 days. That ball is in their court to respond. What are they waiting for?
But we already know this story. It’s frustrating indeed, but we know that the future holds good things for Augsburg and our community. Today let’s celebrate that we’re still here, we’re still fighting, and we know we will win.
The administration’s primary tactic of waiting us out and breaking our momentum has not succeeded. We go into year two of bargaining with high spirits and the same overwhelming solidarity that won our union in the first place.
Let’s stick together, let’s sign the petition, and let’s win an Augsburg contract with Augsburg values.