Union Contract Negotiations Wrapping Up, Wages Next

The College staff’s union, AFSCME Local 3980, is wrapping up on negotiating the details of their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement with the College, and is expecting to complete the contract on Dec. 5. The MOU, which outlines certain benefits and policies that affect the College’s union employees, will be in effect for the next three years once it is ratified.

Although the details of the contract will not be revealed until negotiations are complete and ratified, union officials explained that they have “made progress” with some of their proposals, and feel confident that the College’s administration can work together with the union to make their initiatives function properly.

The employee grievance system has been “improved and streamlined,” and has added provisions to alleviate conflicts of interest within the grievance system. Union officials explained the rationale for this change is simply “if I file a grievance against my supervisor, that means that my supervisor won’t be the one checking the grievance.”

The union also made progress in regards to establishing a union office, which would be used “for union business, small meetings, files, etc.” Union officials also expressed that there was progress with an Employee Assistance Program, which would provide College staff with assistance for personal issues that may affect work performance.

The union has included provisions that give the union representation at the Staff Senate, albeit without voting power, to advise the Staff Senate on union issues.

The union is also discussing certain appendix proposals, such as a skills development program for staff, as well as an anti-bullying policy adapted from the State of Maryland’s own anti-bullying policy for government employees, which prevents supervisors from retaliating against employees for non work related issues. Union officials feel “very confident that Human Resources and the union can get [the proposals] to work.”

However, many proposals regarding Public Safety (PS) staff were either rejected or not brought up for discussion. The PS staff proposed a number of policies that would help them become closer to a sworn police force, as most public higher education institutions in Maryland, including University of Maryland, Salisbury University and Frostburg University, have a sworn police staff. The union was “disappointed” to see these proposals rejected, as the PS staff has “worked hard on [the proposals] for almost a year.”

The College does not comment on union negotiations as they are happening, stating that this policy “allows those representing the union and the College of work unencumbered by other[s] toward a beneficial mutual agreement.”

Many local businesses, politicians, students, and faculty have signed the union’s letter to President Tuajuanda C. Jordan, PhD, asking the College to fairly consider both sides of the negotiation. Signers include the owners of St. James Deli and Spirits, St. Inigoes General Store, Ridge Market, Cook’s Liquors and Deli, Buzzy’s Country Store, and newly-elected Delegate Brian Crosby, among many others. 200 St. Mary’s College of Maryland students also signed the letter of support. See the full letter of support here.

This week, the union and the College will negotiate wages for staff, and plans to wrap things up on Dec. 7. The MOU will then need to be ratified by employees and the Board of Trustees before anything takes effect. The union also plans on holding a forum showing what agreements were made, and where proposals fell through.

The union encourages interested students to follow their social media pages on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date on union issues.

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