Hello ASPA members,
It has been just over two months since my last update. When I started writing this last week, we were heading into two more days of bargaining with the employer. I had hoped that I would be able to provide to you, our members, a very positive message. It had been my hope to be able to report to you that we are very close to an agreement. To be honest, we are nowhere near an agreement.
Over the last two months we have had seven days of bargaining with the employer. Several proposals have been presented and counterproposals offered. When we started this round of bargaining, the ASPA team proposed a somewhat expedited process to the employer. We had a lot of feedback from members through our bargaining survey saying that they didn’t want this round of bargaining to take too long and we were trying to act on that request. In fact, Hugh Wagner, our external co-lead negotiator and I met with Cheryl Carver – AVP People and Resources and Colin Weimer – Director, Employee Relations and lead negotiator for the employer in early fall to propose this concept. They agreed to start bargaining in this fashion, keeping the item list small so as to quickly get some momentum and, hopefully, reach an agreement quickly. Traditionally, bargaining starts by dealing with a number of housekeeping items, cleaning up language by changing this and that to provide more clarity for both sides, and then, finally discussing and negotiating the monetary items. By having the parties agree to an expedited process, we basically got down to the business of money right off the bat.
Bargaining began with the employer presenting to us the financial status of the university and an explanation that the average salary of our ASPA members is too high; that our average salary is above market value. Interestingly, the ASPA bargaining team has reviewed the starting salaries of all new employees for the last two years. We have discovered that of all the employees that were hired into ASPA within the last two years, 40% of these new employees were above their starting salary band. If the university is paying too much for ASPA salaries is the premise of their argument, then why is the employer sending this mixed message and recommending that these new salaries start above target. I leave that to you to decide.
While we have had several bargaining meetings with the employer in the last two months and we exchanged proposals, I am not sure that the current negotiations have made a lot of headway. I had hoped to have better news. The employer is not even offering cost of living increases to keep up with inflation. They are showing very little movement on any front, so I am looking to you, our members, to get your input and support. Look to your inbox next week. We will be sending out a 1-minute survey. If ever there was a time that we need your support, this is it.
ASPA Co-Lead Negotiator