Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hold your nose (Part 3) . . . and vote YES

Your union has worked hard to negotiate a wage agreement with the University System of Maryland for FY 2006. If approved by you, this agreement will be added to the Board of Regents' budget request for this year's Maryland legislative session.

This is another historic moment that marks the second time UMCP employees have had a say in the budgetary process.

We encourage a yes vote on this wage agreement. If this proposal is voted down, our pay increases in the budgetary process may be in jeopardy.

Voting on this wage agreement will take place on Friday, December 23, 2005 beginning at 10:00 a.m. and ending at 2:00 p.m. in the Edgar Allen Poe Room (Room 2101) at the Stamp Student Union. You must bring identification (ID) to be allowed to vote and be a member of the exempt or nonexempt bargaining unit.

All AFSCME exempt and nonexempt bargaining unit members will be permitted to take up to one (1) hour of paid release time for this voting. This time must be coordinated with your supervisor.

Here is a summary of the agreement:



Before we won collective bargaining, we just had to wait to see what management would ask the Governor for, what the Governor would put in the budget and what the legislature would approve. In the contract (known as an MOU) we won language that forces management to come to the bargaining table and negotiate with us over what they will ask for. Now we are no longer just waiting at the end of the process, we are a player at the beginning.

We negotiate over two money items- the Cost of Living increase and the Merit Pay increase for those who meet standards.


This year, it appears that the Governor is going to put in a 2% raise for COLA. That’s management’s offer so far at another bargaining table where the state has to meet with AFSCME. In our negotiations, we agreed to whatever level of funding the General Assembly provides for. It’s extremely unlikely that they will cut a raise proposed by the Governor; in fact they have never done so. What we’ll be fighting for in the legislature is to increase this 2% at least by having the raise as a flat across the board amount instead of a percentage. To arrive at the flat amount, the state would have to come up with an average that would include all of the very high paid administrators across the state. As a result they would get less and we would get more.


Before collective bargaining, whether or not we would get a merit increase was up to the whim of management. Their own policy made it dependent on whether or not “funds are available.” How much money had to be available was something that was left up to them. And then there was the question of available to whom and for what? Now they have to negotiate that.

With this agreement, if management gets a certain amount of money, we will be guaranteed a 2.5% increase (2.5% Merit Pool for Exempts). If in the unlikely event they get less, but more than a much lower amount, we will get a 2% increase (what management says is the average step increase given to State employees). The schedule of what increase in funds triggers what increase is on the other side. An increase of below $80 million would trigger no merit. Management’s request to the Governor is at the $136 million level and the situation looks very good for getting the 2.5%.

Management began negotiations with a proposal that might have made it impossible or much more difficult to get a merit raise. Negotiations changed the figures. Plus, as opposed to last year, management agreed to increase the second level from 1.5% to a 2% merit increase (equivalent to what they say other state employees get on average).


Is this raise enough in light of increases in health care, gasoline, home heating costs and more? No! And it is certainly not what we deserve. But it is as much as we can win at this point AND it locks in
management- requiring them to give a merit increase at certain levels of funding, even if other agencies in the state were to not give a merit increase. A vote against what we have tentatively agreed to will not result in a larger Cost of Living increase. If it would, we would all be voting “no.” In this case, a “no’ vote would only put our merit pay increase in jeopardy. Due to timing required by law, negotiations must be concluded by the end of the year and we were just able to get management to make the last changes on December 19.

Our contract does not allow for negotiations over what the COLA will be.
Unlike workers in private companies, the law does not allow us to negotiate with management on that. In our situation, we can only negotiate on what the University will ask the Governor for. In this case, knowing the Governor, we have opted to agree on whatever the legislature approves.

The struggle for the best COLA will be during the legislative session.

After that, the next battle is -Who will be the next Governor?

For more information contact the AFSCME leaders on your campus;
or call 1-800-492-1996 and ask for Jeff.


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