Trustees hold special session

Amanda Garrett

Board approves agreement between Kent State, AFSCME

The Board of Trustees approved the collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 153, in a special meeting yesterday afternoon.

The new agreement meets the needs of employees and the university, Provost Paul Gaston said.

“The new collective bargaining agreement strikes a balance,” he said. “It’s fair to the employees, while also dealing with the fiscal realities that Ohio’s public higher-education institutions face.”

The new agreement covers a three-year period from Oct. 1, 2005, to Sept. 30, 2008.

It includes a wage increase of 25 cents for the first year of the contract, 45 cents for the second year and 50 cents for the third year.

The employees will begin to receive their raises very soon, said Carolyn Pizzuto, vice president of Human Resources.

“We will instantly proceed with pay increases,” she said. “The employees haven’t had a pay increase since January 2004.”

Other issues covered in the contract include more equitable distribution of overtime, increased vacation time and holiday pay for seasonal workers.

Under the new agreement, AFSCME will be able to hold a vote on a fair-share fee when its membership reaches two-thirds of all employees covered under contract. The fair-share fee will require non-union members to pay the equivalent of dues for the services they receive from collective bargaining.

There are two parts of the agreement still being discussed. AFSCME would like two employee programs open to more employees, Local 153 President Ray Davis said. The Jobs Enrichment Program provides increased worker training. The Transitional Worker Program provides rehabilitation for injured workers.

“These programs are only open to a select few,” he said. “We would like them to be applied across the board.”

In recent months relations between the university and the union have improved, Davis said.

“I’ve noticed a new desire to work with us in the future,” he said.

Having an agreement in place is important for the future of the university, President Carol Cartwright said.

“This is an important first step in the process. It’s a big step in stability,” she said. “It’s a nice opportunity for the new president to come in and form relationships and not have to immediately start in the bargaining process, which by its very nature, can be adversarial.”

Administration reporter Rachel Abbey contributed to this story.

Contact academic affairs reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].