A little bit ago, at 2:00 pm, our colleagues on the Bargaining Team concluded the first session of negotiations with representatives from the administration, Dawn Miller and Katie Bishop, and the University’s representing attorney, Meggen Lindsay. The union was represented by Annie Chen, Keanon Cooper, Lauren White, Marcus Jenkins, Maren Stoddard Mack, Mike Bloomberg, Katie Asfeld, and Uriah Ward, as well as our OPEIU Local 12 reps Jim Niland and Sam Tiratto.
We came prepared with a near-complete contract which included proposals on wages, healthcare, scheduling, and many other topics that we’ve been discussing amongst ourselves for so long. We explained that our union members had high response rates to our Bargaining Issues Survey, which was the primary driver behind our proposed contract.
Here is a closer look at some of what we proposed:
- Bargaining unit members will continue to be able to determine their work schedule with their supervisor
- Effective January 7, 2021 all bargaining unit members will receive either a 7% increase in their salary/hourly wage or have their salary/hourly/wage increased to $48,500/year, whichever results in the highest salary/hourly wage. If the member is working less than full-time the $48,500/year will be prorated based on what ratio of a full-time 40 hours/week they are working. For example, a member working 32 hours/week (0.8) time would have that $48,500 pro-rated to $38,800/year. The base salary of $48,500 is based on survey responses, as well asresearch outlining livable wages for a family of 4 with two incomes in Hennepin County.
- Augsburg pays 100% of healthcare, vision, and dental premiums on plans covering a single employee. Employees choosing healthcare plans covering partners, dependents, or families would pay a reduced percentage of the premiums than they currently do.
- Augsburg will make an annual contribution to employee HSA accounts for High Deductible plans of $1000 per year, regardless of coverage level.
- The formation of a Health and Wellness Committee that will determine health care plans, their designs and other issues concerning them, including selecting affordable health care plans and bringing transparency to the process. The committee would also establish a health care plan for students. The committee will have equal representation from upper admin/HR, Augsburg staff union, other non-union staff, students, faculty, adjunct faculty union, and facilities and custodial union. These representatives will be directly selected by their peers.
- Birth/Adoption Leave: The Employer shall provide to all employees six (6) weeks of paid Birth/Adoption Leave time to use starting up to 2 weeks prior to or after the birth or adoption of a child. Time shall be used all at once anytime in the first 12 months from the date of birth or adoption decree.
- Family Care Leave: six (6) weeks of paid family leave to care for medical/illness needs of themselves, and/or of their family and household members or anyone they are in a caregiver relationship to.
- A sick leave pool will be created that employees may contribute their accrued and unused sick leave to that will be available to other employees who have exhausted their paid sick leave. The policies for this pool will be determined by the union.
Here are links to the full text of the union and employer proposals:
We received initial proposals from the administration as well, regarding some non-economic issues, such as the scope of our union membership, no-strike agreements, equal opportunity and nondiscrimination language. The union took a caucus break to discuss the administration’s proposed language.
We have reached a tentative agreement on two fairly standard articles regarding equal opportunity and nondiscrimination, and that contract agreements that are overridden by state or federal law will be replaced by such laws. While these articles are somewhat mundane, coming to some initial agreement in the first negotiation meeting is a good indication that we will continue to work well in upcoming negotiations.
The administration did not make any counter-proposals to our economic issues, which we were prepared for, as we were told they prefer to start with non-economic issues. However, economic issues are a clear priority for our union based on the survey results and we will continue to keep the pressure on to negotiate these issues in a timely manner.
We appreciate the good faith effort the administration has made to schedule bargaining sessions and to hear our proposals. Our next bargaining sessions are scheduled for Thursday, April 1, and Saturday, April 17.
Unfortunately, we would also like to bring your attention to Augsburg’s refusal to pay the members of the Bargaining Team for the time spent during bargaining sessions. This is an unfair imbalance of power, as the administrative members and lawyer are negotiating on paid time, and the negotiations are a mutually beneficial endeavor for the University.
We will continue to push for pay so the Bargaining Team can meet at reasonable hours. Until then, we are prepared to meet on nights and weekends to win this contract!
There will be a CAT (Contract Action Team) meeting tonight at 6:30 pm and all members are welcome to attend. Here is the link to join the meeting. (No need to register with that link). We will only spend a small amount of time debriefing the bargaining session. The bulk of our meeting tonight will be discussing ways to demonstrate to the administration that we’re serious about our proposals, and planning dates for future Town Hall events, etc..
Last but not least, thank you to all of you, our fellow staff union members, who are showing their solidarity by using a union Zoom background, email signature (i.e., I am a proud member of the Augsburg Staff Union), wearing your union facemasks, and wearing maroon on negotiation days. We’re working together for our future!
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any assistance in attending our CAT meetings.