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U of MN AFSCME Returns to Negotiating Table, Strike Set for September 5

by staff |
August 28, 2007
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Minneapolis, MN - The Bureau of Mediation Services has ordered the University of Minnesota AFSCME's strike date to be Sept. 5, instead of Sept. 4, the date the union expected. The mediator has called both parties back to the mediation table tomorrow, Aug. 29.

Barb Bezat, president Local 3937 said, "It is our hope that the University will come to the table ready to negotiate a settlement that we can all live with. Our goal is to get a settlement, but if the University continues to short change us, our members have told us in no uncertain terms by their 72% reject and strike vote that they are ready and willing to strike. The ball is in the University's court."

Every public employer in the state of Minnesota has put at least 3.25% - plus step increases - on the negotiating table. The University received a budget allocation from the state legislature of 3.25% for each employee at the university plus an additional salary supplement that many other employers did not receive. The University has refused to put more than 2.25% on the table for clerical, technical and health care staff.

Phyllis Walker added, "In 2003 they asked us to ‘share the pain’ and our salaries were frozen. In 2005 they offered what they called a ‘fair and equitable’ settlement and our positions lost value. Now we are in a situation where the university has money and they are refusing to give it to us. I suspect they feel the need to add a few more $250,000-a-year vice-president positions. It is a question of economic justice. The University is creating two classes, one that is valued with money and the other valued only in words."

The unions have been organizing in the workplace and have set up a strike headquarters. In addition there is a very active Community Support Committee. Jess Sundin, committee chair said, "The response from the university community has been tremendously encouraging. Students and professors understand that this is an issue of economic justice and respect. They understand that employees such as secretaries, veterinary technicians and medical assistants are the backbone of the institution and allow teaching and research to happen."