First UE Contract
The UE committee at Hawkeye. Front row, from left, Darwin
Lies and Dolores Kuhse; second row, Alma Huck, Jane Walters, Joe Martin and Shawn Keefe.
Hawkeye Community College support staff who joined UE in December
gained their first union contract in May. The college clerical, technical, custodial,
maintenance, food service and public safety employees who are UE Local 855 will enjoy a
number of wage and benefit improvements.
Hawkeye workers leafleted the college board of directors, sending a clear
message they would accept only improved benefits and conditions, not givebacks.
The UE members faced an attempt by the administration, right up to the
last day of negotiations, to take away six of 17 paid holidays; during the organizing
campaign, administration officials threatened Hawkeye workers with loss of paid holidays
if they went union. Local 855 members retain all 17 holidays and gain the option of taking
six throughout the year, not just during the Christmas-New Years holiday season.
The inability to quickly resolve grievances if grievances were
resolved at all was among the issues propelling Hawkeye staff to organize. The
first UE contract includes a four-step grievance procedure, with time lines and binding
arbitration. The agreement also deals with discipline and discharge and provides for
grievance meetings during working hours.
All workers will receive a 31-cent an hour across-the-board wage increase
the first year and 40 cents in the second year. Work done on second, third and weekend
shifts will bring an additional 10 cents an hour. This agreement ends the past practice of
denying wage increases to workers at the top of their wage scale and those given poor
Full-time employees will receive an insurance allowance of $400 a month in
the first year of the contract and $420 in the second year. Employees who are covered
under another insurance policy retain the ability to "opt out" and receive most
of their allowance in cash. In the second year of the contract, a fund is established to
help cover the additional costs of family insurance.
With this contract, part-time employees gain recognition for their
contributions to the community college. For the first time, part-time employees will
receive 40 hours of paid leave time per year for holidays, vacations and sick leave.
Part-time employees can also receive $50 a month in the first year and $52.50 in the
second year covered by the contract for health insurance.
Seniority dates now start from the first date of continuous employment,
not from the first date of full-time employment, which was the previous practice. And
seniority is no longer just a date, but a contract provision with meaning. The
administration must now post positions internally and include seniority in the
consideration for transfers. Layoffs and recalls within job classifications and
departments will now be made by seniority. Overtime will be awarded by seniority.
Full-time employees may now accumulate up to 105 days of paid sick leave;
the pre-contract cap was 90 days. Employees may now use their five days of critical
illness leave to care for family members who have out-patient surgery; custodial
grandparents may now use all of the provisions of this leave as well.
The negotiating committee consisted of UE Local 855 Pres. Jane Walters,
Chief Steward Shawn Keefe, Vice Pres. Alma Huck and at-large members Dolores Kuhse, Joe
Martin and Darwin Lies. They were assisted by Field Organizers Heather Riemer and Sylvia