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U. parking officers on track to unionize

Officers are currently negotiating an agreement which includes higher wages

University parking officers are set to unionize under the United Service and Allied Workers of Rhode Island, pending final signatures on a draft agreement between the University and union officials.

Under the current draft of the agreement between the University and the union, parking officers will receive hourly wage increases and maintain some of their current benefits.

United Service and Allied Workers also represent Facilities Management staff members, whose existing contract was used to help develop the draft agreement for parking officers. The current Facilities Management agreement was amended for parking officers to keep their existing holidays and seniority but take on the “vacation, sick time and pension benefits” included in the Facilities Management contract, said Karen McAninch, workers’ representative and business agent for the United Service and Allied Workers.

Last November, the two parking officers employed by the University at the time voted to join the United Service and Allied Workers. The draft of the agreement, once finalized, will include all parking officers, who are University staff members that enforce Providence and campus parking codes.

McAninch said officers joined the union because they believed they were being paid less than they deserved. The officers earned $13.26 and $13.42 hourly and worked 37.5 hours weekly, which is “what most non-union staff works,” McAninch said.

Both parking officers had been correctional officers in Massachusetts and felt they should be paid more, McAninch said. She said the officers researched other parking officers’ wages at the University of Massachusetts and the City of Providence and found the average rate was $17.00 per hour.

Unionized staff members — which include Facilities Management, Dining Services, Public Safety and library staff members —  work 40 hours per week. The current draft of the agreement stipulates that the officers work 40 hours per week and earn $14.17 an hour, which “put them in the grid with the rest of Facilities (Management),” McAninch said.

One officer, who declined to comment, is approaching his third year working at the University, McAninch said. If the current draft is finalized, his pay will be raised to $16.30.

“The University generally does not comment during the collective bargaining process,” wrote Paul Mancini, director of labor and employee relations, in an email to The Herald. But “these negotiations have been characterized by a positive spirit of cooperation, understanding and goodwill as the parties have worked expeditiously toward a fair and equitable resolution,” he wrote.


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