University employees still working despite recently expired contract

Theresa Edwards

The three-year-contract with the American Federation State County Municipal Employees local 153 expired Jan. 26, and there are approximately 350 university employees working without contract.

Ray Davis, president of the union and maintenance repair worker, said the union provides service personnel to the university such as food service, carpenters and electricians.

Though the contract has been expired for about three weeks, workers were permitted to work past the expiration date under the previous contract, said Ron Kirksey, executive director of University Communications.

The union and the university meet regularly to negotiate issues, Davis said, and he was optimistic about the outcome.

“I think we’ll come out with something good,” Davis said.

The employees will stay with the university under the terms from the old contract until they come to an agreement on a new contract; though, neither party would give contract specifics, he said. The university and union leaders are currently working with a mediator to help negotiate the contract.

The union is researching the issues, and it intends to continue its research to better aid the negotiation process.

Departments not represented under this contract include the police department, clerical department and the cashiers, Davis said.

“The bargaining continues, and we continue to make progress,” Kirksey said.

Robin Anderson, carpenter for the university covered under the expired contract, has worked for the university since 1998. He had never worked without a contract before, he said. He is a union member and will vote on the new contract.

Anderson’s biggest concern is the health care issues, he said. He is worried the health care costs will rise.

“The difference between a 1 percent raise or a 3 percent raise is not as significant as what the changes to the health care policy could cost me,” he said.

However, Anderson said the current contract is vague and he thinks some issues need to be cleared up in the new contract. He filed a grievance over his job description in the contract about two years ago.

Under the expired contract, Anderson was required to maintain peak roofs. Flat roof maintenance was not part of his job description. His supervisor asked him to maintain flat roofs as well as the peak roofs, according to Anderson.

The grievance reached the last step in the process, where Human Resources heard Anderson’s grievance.

To complete Anderson’s grievance, he said, Campus Environment and Operations sent out a memo stating more people would be assigned to those jobs as training and circumstances allow.

Contact general assignment reporter Theresa Edwards at [email protected].