UR Reaches Contract Agreement with Service Workers’ Unions
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Members of SEIU Local 200 United and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East today ratified an agreement with the University of Rochester that provides a compensation package that will allow the University to continue to recruit and retain its service workers, and is comparable with compensation packages received by the University’s non-represented staff.
Under terms of the three-year contract, the 1,400 union employees will receive:
- 3% pay increases each year of the contract; in addition, about 60 employees hired since April 3, 2005 who have worked at the University between two and five years will receive a one-time, 25 cents-per-hour market adjustment as part of the deal. This is the first wage increase for these employees since June 11, 2006.
- The University will reduce its contribution to union employees’ benefits from 29.5% of wages in the last contract to 25.7% of wages in the new contract. The University contributes monthly to the union’s National Benefits Fund which structures and funds health care and other employee benefits.
- The savings from benefits will be reinvested in two new initiatives to aid worker retention and advancement:
- The University and the union will form a joint committee to develop a childcare program for union employees. With $160,000 in seed funds, the union’s downstate staff will be retained to develop eligibility criteria for childcare stipends and leverage other community grants to augment the program’s capacity. Although the program won’t provide free childcare, the goal is to provide subsidies to offset a portion of the full cost.
- Another joint committee of labor and management will also look for opportunities to leverage the University’s commitment with other community and state-funded training grants. Additionally, the committee will make determinations on course offerings that are deemed beneficial to both employees and the University. Employees in the two bargaining units will be granted paid release hours totaling 5,000 hours/year during the contract’s first year (an average of 3.57 hours per member); 6,000 hours/year the second year of the contract (an average of 4.28 hours per member); and 7000 hours/year (an average of 5.0 hours per member) in the contract’s final year.
“This is a fair contract built on intelligent compromises and good-faith negotiation,” said University of Rochester associate vice president for Human Resources Chuck Murphy. “The Union’s ability to accept a lower contribution to benefits in a market with 15% annual increases in health care costs is a credit to the changes they’ve made in plan design and administration which have lowered the average cost-per-worker.”
“The union’s flexibility on health care benefits enables us to develop new joint programs like childcare assistance and training programs that will help with employee retention and attendance – on a cost-neutral basis for the University,” Murphy said. “So this contract offers positive results for both sides.”
SEIU Local 200 United and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East represent about 1,400 University employees including housekeeping, food service, and materials handling staff along with surgical technicians and nursing unit secretaries. Contract discussions have been underway since early August. The new contract is set to expire on September 25, 2010.