Havre Daily News
Nonfaculty employees at Montana State University-Northern on Thursday voted to ratify a new, two-year labor contract, which awards an additional pay increase for some underpaid workers and includes provisions that protect the union workers' services from being given to outside contractors.
The faculty union rejected a package of proposals from Montana University System negotiators this week, but the union's president said the proposals contained good ideas that will be incorporated into the next round of negotiations.
Christine Muller, president of the nonfaculty union, said negotiations went well.
“It's a positive contract,” she said today. “We got things in there that strengthen the union contract. (The administration) took the factors into consideration that they needed to. I'm really pleased with the contract.”
The contract gives workers at least a 3.5 percent raise this year, retroactive to Oct. 1, and a raise of 4 percent or more for the 2006-2007 school year. Workers will receive a minimum increase of $1,005 this year and $1,188 next year. For the majority of union members, that corresponds to an increase of between 5 percent and 6 percent, university system chief negotiator Kevin McRae said.
The agreement also includes additional raises of 15 cents an hour for custodians and 30 cents an hour for a few trade positions. The union studied pay rates at other universities in the Montana university system and found that those positions at MSU-N were paid less than the same positions at other schools, Muller said.
She said a new provision in the contract further protects union jobs from being eliminated due to the university hiring outside contractors. During negotiations, union representatives were assured that some recent work, including the installation of a new heating system at a building on campus, had been bid outside the union only because the projects were too large for members to complete.
The new section states that disagreements over contracted services will be hashed out in the Labor-Management Committee.
“The language we got strengthens our contract,” Muller said.
Federation of Teachers Local 4045 president Roger Stone said the union did not make any counterproposals during Tuesday's negotiations.
The administration's proposal included a 3.5 percent increase in pay this year and a 4 percent increase next year. It also included merit bonuses of $1,000 each to be awarded to four faculty members, based on selections by a committee.
Another proposal would haveallowed the administration to offer a base salary increase of up to 10 percent to recruit faculty in the business, nursing and civil engineering programs, and technical programs that require licensed expertise.
Stone said the union will continue to look at the proposals and wants to hammer out exactly how the recruitment increases would work and see how the committee picked to award the merit increases would proceed.
“I think there are lots of good ideas there,” Stone said. “What we will do now is rewrite our proposals and incorporate some of their ideas into ours.”
The faculty union has proposed raises of 7.5 percent this year and 8 percent next year. The proposal affects both base salaries and points, which faculty members receive based on experience and other factors. The more points faculty members have, the higher their pay.
The next round of negotiations for the faculty union is set for Dec. 12-13.