After nearly four months of negotiations, University Administrators and members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153 came to a contract agreement on Oct. 14, with the assistance of a federal mediator. The negotiations focused on wage increases, tuition for dependents, and the University’s use of GPS units installed in employees’ radios and vehicles. Physical Plant workers voted on the contract on Oct. 22, which passed with a 19 to 14 majority, with 33 of the 49 members voting.
“I’m very glad that the Physical Plant union and the University reached an agreement,” said President Michael Roth. “I know that these employees work very hard on behalf of the University and I’m glad we have an agreement to work together over the next few years.”
According to Chief Steward of Local 153 Pete McGurgan, the finalized contract stipulated a 0 percent wage increase in 2010, a 2.5 percent increase in 2011, and a 2.5 percent increase in 2012, and provided a $1,500 signing bonus. Although there were discussions of capping the tuition benefit for employee dependents at the 2010-2011 rate of $20,907 annually, rather than allowing it to increase in proportion to Wesleyan tuition prices, such a clause will not be included in the contract.
Additionally, a clause was also added into the contract stipulating that any GPS units the administration installs in radios and vehicles will not be used for disciplinary purposes and that workers will be notified of their installment, according to McGurgan. Physical Plant workers will now be able to deposit up to four percent of their salaries into a 401(b) retirement fund, 50 percent of which will be matched by the University.