Monday, November 14, 2005

UPDATE on AFSCME - UM wage negotiations

Please forward this information to your friends and coworkers.

Based on the February 2005 member survey, AFSCME presented a simple wage proposal to the University of Maryland System on November 2, 2005.

This is it:

1. A $4000 cost of living increase (COLA)
2. A $2000 merit increase across the board, or a 3.5 percent increase (whichever is greater).

The February survey results stated loud and clear that AFSCME members believe that a flat dollar increase would help our lowest paid employees while still providing the higher paid employees with a meaningful increase.

In the second wage reopener bargaining session on Thursday, November 10th, the University System Vice Chancellor of Administration & Finance responded to our proposal as follows:

"We are not interested in a flat dollar amount for either the merit or the cost of living adjustment. We are not negotiating pay equity."

Well, he was half right--we are NOT negotiating "pay equity." For proof, read this.

AFSCME's flat dollar increase of $4000 aims to provide a meaningful raise for the least among us--those employees of Maryland Higher Education who are paid less than $20,000 per year. When the raise calculated as a percentage instead of a flat rate, low-paid workers get the shaft.

We are all ashamed that some housekeepers, dining service and facilities maintenance workers at UMCP are eligible for state assistance. That shame is clearly not felt in the UMS Office of Budget Analysis.

In addition, the Vice Chancellor went on to say that it would serve no useful purpose to bargain with AFSCME again until December.

Why?

Before the UMS Office of Budget Analysis presents their "Asking Budget," they want to see how much money will be granted to us by that great friend of Maryland higher education--our Governor. Then, "business as usual" the UMS Office of Budget Analysis will divide up the state dollars among pet projects, construction, and other money pits. Staff raises are low on their priority list.

If you believe that the UM System has turned their backs on staff and that blocking our legitimate wage request is wrong, here are two simple tasks you can do to change things:

1. Call or write your Maryland State Legislators (find contact info here) and tell them that Higher Education staff pay IS A BUDGET PRIORITY! not an afterthought.

2. Call or write the University System Vice Chancellor of Administration & Finance, Joseph Vivona and tell him to pass along our pay request to the legislature. No interference, no footdragging, just do it!

Your voice matters. Don't wait for permission. Do it today!

FYI here is the mission statement of the UMS Office of Budget Analysis:

"The Office of Budget Analysis coordinates with the institutions in developing and presenting the annual operating budget to the Regents, the Department of Budget and Management, and MHEC. As part of this task, the Office collects, collates, analyzes, and presents data relevant to the budget, including priorities and the resource requirements of the institutions and the System. The Office also represents the institutions and the USM in budget matters to the Department of Fiscal Services and the General Assembly."

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