AFSCME, KSU decide tentative agreement

Amanda Garrett

The university has reached a tentative agreement with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 153 on the wages and insurance provisions in the collective bargaining agreement, but negotiations are still ongoing for several other parts of the agreement.

The insurance provision is similar to the one offered to the faculty, AFSCME President Ray Davis said.

Davis declined to talk about the specific nature of the wages, but he said they were more than what the university originally offered. The fact-finder’s report suggested a raise of 25 cents for the first year of the contract, 30 cents for the second year and 35 cents for the third year.

The two parts of the contract that are being most heavily negotiated are fair-share fee and equity, said Scott Rainone, assistant director of University Media Relations. Both parties are working from a fact-finder’s report, which the Board of Trustees passed, but AFSCME rejected.

The fair share fee would require non-union members to pay the equivalent of dues for the benefits they receive from collective bargaining, Davis said.

The fact-finder’s report recommended that the fair-share fee be implemented when AFSCME membership reaches 80 percent or more of the total number of employees covered under the contract. AFSCME would like the fee to be implemented now. AFSCME currently represents 370 workers, about one-third of the people eligible for the union.

Another contentious issue is equity, which is a 10-level pay scale. The university would like to move certain jobs to a higher grade in the pay scale, Davis said. AFSCME opposes such partial reclassification.

Negotiations have been going on since November. The process has been prolonged because the AFSCME bargaining team has been more firm than the university expected, Davis said.

“We have a very dedicated team of negotiators who have stuck to their points,” he said. “We even negotiated on Valentine’s Day. There were a few spouses who weren’t too happy with that.”

Once a tentative agreement is reached, the AFSCME executive board will put the agreement up for a vote of the membership, Davis said.

AFSCME would like negotiations to end quickly so they can concentrate on serving students, Davis said.

“Students are our number one priority,” he said. “We enjoy working with the students every year.”

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