Trustees approve new three-year AFSCME contract

Contact: Cheryl Roland

KALAMAZOO—Acting during a special conference-call meeting Aug. 10, Western Michigan University's Board of Trustees approved a new three-year contract with Local 1668 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25 and Local 1668.

The union's 430 members include hourly employees who work in in building maintenance and custodial capacities, dining services, landscaping and a number of other roles.

Under the new contract, which becomes effective Aug. 12 now that trustees have approved it, wages for union members will rise 1 percent retroactive to July 1. An additional 1 percent increase will be implemented in January 2013. During 2013-14, the second year of the contract, wages will increase by 1 percent in July and an additional 1.5 percent in January 2014. No wage increases are scheduled for the contract's third year, 2014-15.

Additional items in the new contract call for a $1 decrease in the per-hour pay rate of all new hires during their first year at WMU, a one-time lump sum payment of $300 for employees covered by the contract, changes to employees' retirement eligibility and contribution package, and changes over three years to employee health care contributions. Payoff of accumulated sick leave hours for long-term employees who leave the University also was eliminated as part of the agreement, and longevity payments were eliminated for employees hired after Jan. 1, 2014.

Negotiations for the contract began in February. A tentative agreement was reached in late July. Membership of the local ratified the contract during a vote Aug. 9.