Kent food service, maintenance, skilled-trade workers to see a 3-year wage increase

The Kent State Board of Trustees has come to agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) on a three-year wage increase for roughly 400 staff, including food service, maintenance and skilled-trade workers. 

The decision came after a board meeting via Zoom late Friday morning. The collective bargaining agreement is now in effect, retroactive to Oct. 1, 2019. Those receiving the raise will get a 2.5% wage increase in the first year, 0% in the second year and a 1.5% increase in the third year. This agreement will last through Sept. 30, 2022. 

The vote from the board to uphold the agreement was unanimous after agreement negotiations began in January. Most contracts run for three years and are re-negotiated at the end of those three years. 

“We are pleased to enter this new collective bargaining agreement with our valued team members and colleagues from AFSCME Local 153. These employees have been on the front lines of the pandemic serving our students, faculty, staff and community so admirably and selflessly throughout this challenging time. We extend a special thank you and expression of gratitude to all,” said Mark Polatajko, senior vice president for Finance and Administration.

The staff who worked through the pandemic did not receive pay to compensate working while also being at risk of contracting the virus. 

Shortly after the meeting ended, President Todd Diacon released the annual financial update, which stated that this fiscal year was far different from previous years.

The total revenue for the university was $636.5 million, which is $23 million less than the university budgeted for. Tuition stayed within 0.5% of budget, with the university enrolling less students this semester.

The university spent $305.7 million on salaries and wages, which was $3.5 million over budget. The hiring freeze implemented in fall 2019 did not save the projected $8.5 million from the vacant positions.

The Board of Trustees approved a budget of $595 million for both revenue and expenses, which is a 10% decrease from the 2020 budget.

Megan McSweeney is an administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected].


Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.