New Members Say Never Give
Staff Win First Contract
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 PERBs decision to District court.
Once workers secured their right to bargain, they faced a tough bargaining
position by the employer. The school districts first offer contained take-backs in
wages, insurance and holidays, to name a few areas. UEs 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
Managements 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
managements "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.