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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Agreement reached with service workers

Members of SEIU Locals 1199 and 200United voted overwhelmingly March 17 to ratify a new contract, retroactive to October 3, 2004--the date the union's last contract with the University expired. The union represents about 1,200 service workers--materials management, housekeeping, and dietary staff, surgical support assistants, patient unit secretaries, and patient care technicians at the Medical Center along with facilities, food service, and other service staff at the University.

The contract provides for a 2.75 percent wage increase for current employees, a move that was affordable due to the creation of a lower, secondary pay scale for all employees hired after April 3.

"This secondary wage scale saves the University money, yet allows us to maintain market-competitive hiring rates," says Chuck Murphy, associate vice president for human resources.

In addition, the union and University agreed to form a joint task force to address rising health benefits costs and to trim costs--a move that is critical to maintaining the employees' health insurance package.

Also, a new training and education fund was established, replacing the current University tuition program for union members.

The new contract is slated to expire on October 1 rather than the spring expiration that the union had requested.

"The University issues are unique to our region, so it simply made no sense for us to concede on this issue," adds Murphy, who says he expects to be back to the bargaining table, working on the next contract, by late summer.



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