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New Members Say ‘Never Give Up’—

Urbandale Schools
Staff Win First Contract


UE-Urbandale Negotiators

Sitting, from left, Lester Smith, Dale Bohall, Beth Richman; standing, Gwen Goodwin, Field Org. Rick Hartmann and Intl. Rep. Greg Cross.

Support staff workers at the Urbandale Community School District took to heart the motto "never give up" to win their first UE contract. The new UE members include kitchen workers, custodians, van drivers, maintenance and trade workers, printers and grounds keepers.

These members of amalgamated UE Local 893 faced repeated employer-caused roadblocks in their path to justice on the job.

The employer tried to break their union and their spirit by delaying the representation election eight months. The employer disputed the composition of the bargaining unit; after two hearings before the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), UE prevailed. Management responded by ignoring workers’ concerns, hiring a unionbusting attorney and appealing PERB’s decision to District court.

Once workers secured their right to bargain, they faced a tough bargaining position by the employer. The school district’s first offer contained take-backs in wages, insurance and holidays, to name a few areas. UE’s negotiating committee had its own position — gains, not give-backs.

When the news reached negotiations one night that UE had again prevailed in District court, the future seemed clear: there would be a UE local at Urbandale and a union contract.

Management’s history of arbitrarily changing work policies convinced the UE committee that current policies and practices had to be contained in the new contract. They accomplished this and more.

The new one-year contract contains no give-backs and includes a base wage increase of 22 cents per hour and an "aging" of the pay scale. For most employees this includes an additional 15 to 25 cents per hour. Flex-pay, available for insurance premiums, also increases by $60 per year. For the first time ever, seniority will be recognized and used in the determination of transfers and promotions.

Urbandale support staff gain a grievance procedure that can end in arbitration. Martin Luther King Day is recognized as a new holiday. Despite management’s "philosophical opposition," UE members proudly achieved two paid holidays for the kitchen workers.

The UE negotiating committee consisted of Dale Bohall, Tom Dale, Gwen Goodwin, Kurt Nelson, Beth Richman, Lester Smith, and Shelley Thomas. They were assisted by UE Intl. Rep. Greg Cross and Field Org. Rick Hartmann.

UE News - 05/98

Home -> UE News -> 1998 Archives -> Article

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