Second-ever contract negotiations for members of amalgamated
UE Local 893 employed by the Urbandale School District resulted in significant
gains in wages and insurance in the agreement ratified May 6.
In their first agreement, ratified a year ago, Urbandale
Schools’ custodians, food service workers and printers won a $60 increase in
the employers’ contribution to insurance — only to see the insurance
company’s rates go through the ceiling not long after. Determined not to let
that happen again, UE members united in support of their negotiating committee
and rallied around a demand for progress on insurance — and not at the
expense of wage increases.
The school district had other plans. With projected budget
growth of only 2.17 percent, the district wanted an unremarkable settlement,
which would have left employees further behind.
Union members achieved a contract which far exceeds the
district’s projected growth. The one-year contract contains wage increases
of 29 to 42 cents an hour, with a new longevity increment for people topped
out on the pay scale. Most significantly, Urbandale workers also gain an
additional employer insurance contribution of $180 — triple what they won
UE members also realized a significant improvement in paid
holidays. Prior to organizing their union, food service workers who worked
more than 30 hours per week but less than 40 hours received no paid holidays.
In their first contract they gained two holidays — and in their new contract
they have gained a third.
The contract victory came despite adversity. Part-way through
negotiations, custodians Megan and Kurt Nelson had to move to
Seattle because of a family emergency; Kurt served as Urbandale union
president. Their participation in the union and negotiating committee were
sorely missed, but members remained united and forged ahead.
The UE committee consisted of Kurt Nelson, Tom Dale, Dale
Bohall, Carol Hamilton, Lester Smith and Shelley Thomas. They were
assisted by Field Org. Don Taylor.