The University signed a new contract with the United Service and Allied Workers union — representing Facilities Management workers — that was approved by the union Monday night, said Karen McAninch, the union’s business agent.
“Staff members from the Facilities Management bargaining unit play a critical role in maintaining and improving the Brown campus and cultivating a setting that allows the University to fulfill its academic mission,” wrote Vice President of Facilities Management Stephen Maiorisi in an email to The Herald. “Our negotiations with union leadership were positive and productive, and we’re pleased to have reached a fair and competitive agreement.”
The old contract, which had been in effect since October 2011, expired Oct. 13, and the current contract is effective until October 2021, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by The Herald.
Because the old contract expired Oct. 13 and the new one was not approved by the union until Oct. 17, Facilities Management workers were technically working without contract for those four days. This is “not the first time we have worked without a contract,” said Anthony Ward Jr., president of the union and a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician in Facilities Management.
“Our negotiations have been characterized by a positive spirit of cooperation, understanding and goodwill as all parties have worked expeditiously toward a fair and equitable resolution,” wrote Director of Labor and Employee Relations Paul Mancini in an email to The Herald while the negotiations were still ongoing.
The union’s goal was to expand the whole package and increase the standard of living for its members, Ward said. This would allow them to draw more talented and highly skilled workers to come work at Brown, he added.
This involved improving the pension plan along with raising wages, McAninch said.
The lowest starting wage in the new contract is $16 to $17 an hour for mail workers, McAninch wrote in an email to The Herald.
The union was looking to increase starting wages by “another 9 to 10 percent,” Ward said.
The new contract includes 2.25 percent wage increases across the board each contract year, according to the contract. In addition, grounds workers, service response workers and stores clerks are now classified as Level 107 union workers, and mail drivers and clerks are now amended Level 102 union workers, which means they are making 5 percent more than the old Level 102 workers, according to the agreement.
In addition, Facilities Management workers within the union are part of an “aging workforce, and over the next five to six years people will be retiring,” Ward added, emphasizing the need to attract new, skilled workers to the University.
There are currently about 275 employees and 15 open positions, McAninch wrote in an email to The Herald.
The contract also includes an increase in the retirement multiplier from 1.78 percent to 1.8 percent effective Jan. 1, 2017 in the pension plan. The pension plan is a “monthly benefit” that pays 1.78 percent “of the average monthly compensation received (based on the best five years) multiplied by the employee’s total number of years of credited service,” according to the agreement.
Union members are also granted two personal days each benefit year, according to the agreement.
This was one of the union’s goals in negotiations, as under the old contract, non-union workers had two more days off including vacation time, McAninch said.