Letter to the Student Body
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:05
In the past several weeks there has been a lot of dialogue among students regarding the negotiations between the university and SEIU Local 2007 for a successor contract on behalf of 59 union-represented Facilities department employees. The university welcomes indeed expects the engagement of its students with respect to such issues. The administration has kept interested student leaders informed and, to date, the university has met with student leaders of Associated Student Government and Santa Clara Community Action Program on five occasions regarding the negotiations process. I am aware of the event that SCCAP organized last week for union represented employees and students. While the university was not invited to this event, based on legal constraints, the university would not have been able to attend regardless. As an employer, the university is precluded by federal law from meeting with union-represented employees regarding the outstanding offer for a successor contract. Such a meeting could be interpreted as direct dealing, an unfair labor practice under the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRA does not preclude the university, however, from attending an informational meeting for our students. The university would like to provide the general student body with background on the negotiations and details of its Last, Best, and Final offer to the university. Such a meeting has been scheduled for May 29 at 6:00 p.m. in the Nobili Dining Room.
In mid-January the university began bargaining with the union for a new contract. Negotiations lasted through March, with the parties reaching tentative agreements on many items. The bargaining covered a wide range of issues, including both economic and non-economic matters relating to the wages, hours, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. The university gave its Last, Best and Final Offer (the “Final Offer”) to the union on March 27. The Final Offer included an across-the-board 2 percent wage increase each year for the next four years, thus, each employee would receive more than an 8 percent increase in their wages by the end of the contract term. This rate increase matches the merit pool approved for all other staff and faculty by the university’s Board of Trustees. In the interest of equity, the university wanted to be sure to match wages for union represented employees, whose average annual earnings are comparable to the average annual earnings of the university’s non-union employees.
The university’s Final Offer maintains healthcare coverage for union represented facilities employees and their families. The union represented employees will continue to be able to choose from any of the health plans that are offered to all other staff and faculty. During the previous contract, union represented employees had the option of choosing from among any of the health plans that the university offers to other staff and faculty, as well as a specific Kaiser plan that was only open to union represented employees. The university believes that every employee should be offered the same health plan options; therefore, the university is not continuing to offer a union-only Kaiser plan that is only open to 59 employees out of a total staff and faculty employee population of nearly 1500. In fact, 18 percent of the union represented employees previously chose a non-Kaiser university health plan.
As between the union-only Kaiser plan and the two Kaiser plans offered to staff and faculty, union represented employees may see either an annual savings or increase in healthcare costs, depending on their individual family circumstances. Recognizing that some employees currently on the union-only Kaiser plan may see an increase, the university’s Final Offer also includes transition credits, in the form of annual lump sum payments, to offset any cost differences in the plans. Our Final Offer commits to pay union represented employee’s Kaiser premium costs at the same rate as is paid to other staff and faculty. In addition, the university has offered to pay, at a minimum, a fixed percentage of the total cost. Cost examples of annual doctor’s visits, medical procedures and prescriptions were distributed to the union bargaining team as well as SCCAP and ASG student leaders.
In addition to healthcare, the university’s Final Offer maintains the other benefits that union represented employees had in their previous contract and that they enjoy as staff members of Santa Clara University. These benefits include:
•A 10 percent salary contribution towards retirement which, in the 2011-2012 contract year alone, amounted to over $300,000 of university contributions to union employees’ retirement accounts
•Tuition remission for themselves and their family members
•Generous vacation and sick leave policies
•Paid family leave
•An employee assistance program
•Section 125 pre-tax savings for childcare
•Premium pay for certain shifts.
The university’s Final Offer is a fair and generous one, both in terms of wages and benefits. The offer maintains the university’s commitment to offering comprehensive healthcare benefits for its employees and their families. The university, in conjunction with the ASG, is sponsoring a meeting for students only next Tuesday. If you are interested in learning more details, I welcome your attendance.
Robert D. Warren
Vice President for
Administration and Finances
Santa Clara University