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EXCLUSIVE: UMass, Union Reach Settlement in Labor Dispute

Monday, June 04, 2012

 

 Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1445, which represents more than 15,000 workers in New England, and officials with the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center signed off on an agreement that will, among other things, provide for 60-cent an hour raises  each year for the next three years. This will impact about 1,300 members. The workers are spread out at three campuses, including University Campus, UMass Memorial and Hahnemann Hospital.

Raises to be Awarded

“This is probably one of the best contracts that has been negotiated in the state,” said Walter Wellman, a union steward with Local 1445, noting members ratified the contract last week. “Contract negotiations with any big company like UMass are never easy. It was interesting. There were three attorneys on their side and none on our side. It was a challenge.”

According to Wellman, the new contract provides for 60-cent an hour raises each year for the next three years, as well as $350,000 over the next three years for equity adjustments. The first year calls for $150,000 in equity adjustments, while the second and third call for $100,000 each. That will help bring workers who were brought on years ago in line with newer employees, Wellman said. The contract also freezes a proposed increase in employee parking fees for three years.

“The parking fees were going to go up as much as $8,” Wellman said.

Wild Protest

Local 1445 Union Vice President Doug Belanger could not be reached for comment, but he was among hundreds of members who took part in a protest at Lincoln Square earlier this year. Protesters hoisted signs and shouted in unison. They were joined by a giant, inflatable rat. During the rally, protesters complained that UMass was more interested in “golden parachutes” for retiring executives than in tending to their dedicated employees.

Members of the union include hospital workers in food services, housekeeping, phlebotomy, medical courier and other areas.

UMass Praises Leadership

A spokesperson for UMass Memorial Medical Center released this statement concerning the negotiations: "Following a series of respectful and constructive negotiations, UMass Memorial Medical Center and members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, ratified a three-year contract. The contract became effective June 3, 2012 following a positive ratification vote on Saturday, June 2. UMass Memorial Medical Center applauds the leadership of the union, along with their bargaining teams and membership for their recognition that both management and labor must work together in support of the long-term success of UMass Memorial Medical Center."
 

 

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