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Respect — And $2.15
The First Year
At Kenyon College


Local 712 members commemorate their history-making new contract with a formal pose.
Local 712 members commemorate their history-making new contract with a formal pose.

A sizeable wage increase, the absence of a management attorney and a healthy dose of respect for the union made negotiations this year between UE Local 712 and Kenyon College something to remember.

"I’ve been here 15 years, and this is the best contract I’ve seen," says Local 712 Pres. Bob Smith.

This is only the second UE contract. Before UE, Smith says, "pretty much we didn’t feel like we did any bargaining. They told us what they wanted to give us — and they didn’t give much. Our representation before we were in UE allowed it to go on, they didn’t give us much guidance."

Three years ago, the Kenyon administration and its attorney got an introduction to a different style of bargaining. UE rejected the attorney’s proposed information blackout and bargaining rules. Eventually the maintenance workers who comprise Local 712 unanimously rejected the college’s final offer.

"We really stood up to them and said, ‘we’re not going to take what you’re offering,’" Smith says. "We stood up for what we wanted and what we believed in."

Although UE members were willing to work while bargaining continued, they were locked out for 49 days. "Though the contract was not all that great, the one thing we got was respect," comments Local Vice Pres. Randy Justice.

The respect carried over to the 2000 negotiations. For one thing, the college opted to drop the attorney who clashed repeatedly with union negotiators three years ago. "They realized they had made a big mistake," says Justice. "They wanted to mend fences, too."

During the weeks of bargaining, and sometimes tough subjects, neither side raised voices. "Not one blow-up — I thought that was really unusual," Justice says. He adds: "The biggest reason we got this great — not good, great — contract is that we earned respect from our employer."


‘UE really sticks by the working man. I’ve been in other unions, and this is the only time I’ve ever been in a union where they really have my best interests at heart. I can say that unequivocally.’

— Local 712 Vice Pres.
Randy Justice

In the first year of the contract, Local 712 members will receive a 5 percent wage increase; 80 percent of them get a $1.25 wage adjustment. That’s a $2.15 increase for most union members.

In both the second and third years, Kenyon maintenance workers will receive a 4 percent increase.

The sick leave bank is expanded from 130 to 200 days. The payout of accumulated sick days at retirement is increased from 30 to 200 days.

Truck pay increases each year of the agreement, for a daily allowance of $9.95 for use of employee vehicles on the job. For the first time employees using their trucks will get a gas supplement.


Local 712 prevailed in a hotly disputed area of negotiations: employee contributions will remain at the same levels and not increase. For the first time, Kenyon maintenance workers gain dental coverage.

The employer payment will now contribute 9 percent of wages into the retirement plan (TIAA/CREFF); if anyone else on campus receives a pension increase, Local 712 members will gain the same amount.

The birthday holiday will now be moveable; vacations can be taken in four-hour increments. Bereavement leave is expanded to five days for parent, step-parents and step-children; brother-in-law and sister-in-law are added to those covered by three days of leave.

The employer will pay $30 per pair of pants needed for work. Employees now have "hazard pay" at time and one half for working, or coming to work, during a Level II weather emergency.

The Local 712 committee consisted of Pres. Bob Smith, Vice Pres. Randy Justice and Rec. Sec. Brad Merriam. They were assisted by Intl. Rep. Dennis Painter.

UE News - 08/00

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