Solidarity Now! Articles by Members

Bargaining

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By Peter Kaczmarczyk

Back in July we held our annual bargaining session with the university to determine the distribution of wages for staff. This was an especially frustrating year, because despite our best efforts to lobby the university and the fact that IU will be receiving stimulus money to plug gaps in the state’s budget for IU, IU decided they would not give raises to staff. While they did authorize a onetime bonus of $500 for those staff making under 30K a year, they claimed this was all they could afford, despite spending $144 million on new building projects and announcing over 120 faculty hires.
We attempted to bargain in good faith, to have IU follow its own polices which give us the right to negotiate “over how the designated wage and salaries budget funds for Staff employees' wages and salaries should be allocated among the Staff employees.” Unfortunately IU claimed the bonus money was outside of the standard budget process, and that this clause of the Conditions of Cooperation did not apply. We argued otherwise and felt IU was using a technicality to avoid giving us our voice in the process, but IU administration refused to budge.
We asked to have the $500 bonuses distributed differently, so that all staff received a bonus. We felt IU’s mandate was unfair and essentially arbitrary in giving bonuses to only some staff, when all staff are struggling. IU refused. We asked to have the bonuses placed onto base pay so that staff could reap the meager benefits in the future when raises are given out based on a % increase. Again IU refused.
We did all we could within the confines the trustees and the university allow us, and as always fought for all staff. We operated in good faith with a goal of fairness. Alas, IU did not seem interested in doing the same, choosing instead to follow a mandate from on high that not only further hurts IU’s most vulnerable but also lowered staff morale and created rifts between those who get a bonus and those who don’t.
For those of you who will be getting a bonus, you should expect it in early December. At that time we hope you will assess your situation and, if your financial situation allows, give some or all of it to a food bank or the cause of your choice. And if you do, let us know and let IU administration know. There is no better way to show them how human beings should treat each other in times of need--that they should do everything they can to help those less fortunate--than by doing it ourselves. IU had a chance to do so with their 2009-2010 budget and chose not to. Let’s show them how it’s done.

Health Tips to Fight the Flu

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by Carole Baynes

There has been a lot of flu talk lately, and we thought you might like some tips to help prevent getting it. These are mostly just common sense things that your mother probably told you. It doesn’t hurt to review a few of them and practice some of the following good health habits suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

1) Don’t have close contact with people if you suspect they are sick or when you are not feeling well.

2) Stay home from public places like work or school when you are ill. It may stop others from getting sick too.

3) Always cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. It helps to protect those around you.

4) WASH YOUR HANDS. (Can’t emphasize this one enough!) Cleaning hands regularly protects you from getting germs.

5) Try not to touch the eyes, mouth or nose areas. Germs spread quickly when you touch something contaminated and then touch eyes, etc.

6 ) Be sure to practice other good health habits such as drinking plenty of fluids, getting lots of sleep, eating nutritious food, being physically active and managing stress.

If you have symptoms like a sore throat, fever, cough and body aches, be sure to see your doctor.

For more information and to find out what IU is doing to help limit and prevent the flu outbreak, go to http://www.indianauniversity.info.

Why Not Join the Union?

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by Karen Adkins-Fleener

The union works for benefits, supports us with representation and helps argue wages. I decided to join when I realized I wanted union benefits and support for others, not just me! It costs only 3 days’ wages a year. We can’t afford not to do our share. The negotiated policy changes are important, and the list is impressive. Why not join to support me and others that need these benefits now—more than ever! Just think what difference we can make with the latest problems—outsourcing and buildings before wages—if we get more members. One reason the administration thinks we don’t care is because we aren’t all members.

I had no idea I would ever need the union. I’m sorry to say that I’ve had to call on them two times, and they did a wonderful job helping me. After the first time, I joined the union, but then after a while I felt the budget tightness and dropped out. Being single and paying rent, utilities and car payments can be daunting. Sure enough I actually needed them again. How embarrassing! Now I will always be a dues-paying member to support YOU and ALL STAFF.

Inflation, Raises and Hard Times Ahead

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by Victor J Kinzer

I have been talking to a lot of people recently who are afraid the staff at Indiana University aren't going to get raises, or if we do, our raises won’t reflect the actual cost of living. The unfortunate truth is that IU hasn't given us a real cost of living raise in several years. Several years ago, it was standard to base support staff raises on the increase in the Consumer Price Index, and then money available above that amount was distributed generally based on merit.

In 2003 that stopped happening, because the trustees were allocating less money than inflation for our raises. So for the past several years, when the economy was expanding rapidly and university enrollment was increasing faster than ever before, the people who work every day to keep the university running and receive the least compensation for that work were taking an effective pay cut every year.

I recently read about Harvard's and Yale's endowments growing at rates far beyond inflation while tuition skyrocketed ahead of inflation and decided to find out how IU's endowment had fared during that time. In 2005 IU's endowment was at 1.1 billion dollars, up 9.4% from the year before. In 2006 the IU endowment hit 1.276 billion dollars, up 15.2% from the year before, and in 2007 the IU endowment hit 1.556 billion dollars, up 22% from the year before. These were all years when the money IU allocated for staff raises was well below inflation.

Now we are hearing about the cuts that are happening everywhere. We hear how times are tight, and how everyone will have to sacrifice because there is so little to go around. If the wealth over the past several years had been shared equally all the way down the line, I would be the first to say that we should indeed do our part and be glad that our jobs are so much more secure than many jobs in the private sector. However, the wealth was not shared evenly. The past decade has been a time of unprecedented expansion in high level administration, both in positions and salaries. The support staff who have worked tirelessly for years to support Indiana University and have taken effective pay cuts as thanks should not be hit even harder in these difficult times. We should get no less than IU has given us in the recent past, and then only on the condition that in the future IU will go back to a policy of providing CPI based annual raises in all but emergency budgeting situations. We should demand no less, and we deserve no less.

Note: This inflation rate is a measure of how much the Consumer Price Index has increased between the date given and the year prior. It does not account for fluctuation during that time. The Average Inflation gives an idea how expenses over the whole year compare to the whole year prior. Inflation data from http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/HistoricalInflation.as.... IU foundation numbers from the 2005, 2006, and 2007 NACUBO Endowment Studies. http://www.nacubo.org.

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Changes Made to the Conditions for Cooperation

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by Jane Goldsmith

The unions at IU are governed by the Conditions for Cooperation as adopted by the Board of Trustees. On February 26, 2009, representatives from AFSCME (Bloomington, South Bend and Indianapolis campuses) and CWA (Bloomington and Northwest campuses) attended a meeting with their respective human resources representatives from each campus.

At this meeting, we were notified that the bargaining schedule was being altered. The unions and administration bargain every year. Some years we discuss only how our raises will be distributed to the groups we represent,.o In other years, we discuss changes to personnel policies, as well as how our raises will be distributed. The change being implemented is a three year cycle rather than a two year cycle. In other words, for two years, we will discuss wage distribution only. In the third year, we will discuss changes to personnel policy as well as wage distribution. The change to a three year cycle will be implemented by each campus on a staggered schedule.

This year CWA 4730 will discuss wage distribution only. Next year, 2010, is all-issues bargaining. Then the three year cycle will be implemented, with the next all-issues bargaining in 2013.

As always, we will be able to call a special meeting between bargaining sessions if conditions warrant it, and quarterly mutual gains meetings will continue.

Enterprise: Asset or Liability?

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by Terry Stigall

IU’s Judson Mead Geologic Field Station is one of the top field stations in the U.S. for graduate level field geology programs. Every summer, IU’s Geology Department takes 80 students to the field station campus in the Tobacco Root Mountains in Montana. Students travel from Bloomington to Montana caravan fashion in large four-wheel drive SUVs. This caravan becomes an on-theroad classroom from Rapid City to Montana, stopping and teaching at various geologic locations along the way. Once at the field station, the students have daily classroom exercises in the mountains that require the use of the four-wheel drive vehicles.

In the past, all this traveling has been done in 12 large SUV’s (Chevy Suburbans) plus a car and a mini-van. The Suburbans were large enough to carry six students, including day-packs and/or luggage and equipment. These larger vehicles with a wide wheel base were well suited for the rough (often gravel) rural roads of Montana. The IU motor pool maintained the Suburbans, and the Geology Department received them pristinely clean, with fire extinguishers and high-quality, heavy-duty tires. The motor pool charged the field station a mileage fee rather than a daily rate. A local garage in Whitehall, Montana worked with the field station to maintain a stock of tires for the vehicles to keep accidents and delays to a minimum.

When the motor pool was outsourced to Enterprise, we were able to use 6 or 8 of the Suburbans the motor pool still had available the first year. The remaining vehicles were Enterprise vehicles - a few large Suburbans plus mid-sized SUVs. We needed around 18 vehicles the first year. The Enterprise vehicles were not clean when presented and did not include fire extinguishers, which the Geology Department had to provide. Enterprise leased these by the month with unlimited miles, but we needed more vehicles because they didn't hold as many students and gear.

The second year (2008), we used all Enterprise vehicles - again leased by the month with unlimited miles. Geology paid $200 extra per vehicle to have them delivered with heavy-duty tires. Again, Enterprise couldn't supply all large-size SUVs. As a result, we ended up taking about 23 vehicles (instead of 18), because the only vehicles Enterprise could provide were smaller SUVs. Our costs increased because we paid extra for the tires and for additional vehicles.

Once in Montana, these Enterprise supplied vehicles began to have flat tires, sometimes 2 flats on the same day on the same vehicle. This compromised the safety of the students and significantly delayed the program because it totally disabled the vehicle. It soon became clear that the tires Enterprise claimed were heavy-duty were not acceptable. The field station's director believed they were headed for a potential disaster, and so, for the safety of the students, IU Purchasing authorized the field station to purchase better, heavier ply tires for the entire fleet of the Enterprise vehicles being used. Once this was done, the course progressed with no more flats.

When the vehicles returned to Bloomington, Enterprise rejected them because they felt the new heavy-ply tires were not safe for highway use. Enterprise refused to reimburse IU for the cost of the new tires, and they demanded that the original tires be returned to the vehicles, at IU's expense. IU had to pay to ship all 84 tires from the Whitehall garage back to Bloomington. IU also had to pay daily rental on the vehicles until a local garage could switch out the tires, at IU's expense. Once removed, IU collected all the new tires, put them on a pallet, and is paying storage for them at the IU warehouse, so that in the summer of 2009 they can be used, re-mounted on the Enterprise vehicles, at our expense.

Originally Enterprise said they would keep as many of the large SUVs as they could for use in 2009. The latest news now, though, is that they are reducing the fleet, retiring the large SUVs altogether, and will have only the midsize SUVs available. This means the IU caravan fleet, which used to average 15 vehicles, will now grow to around 25 vehicles or more. Each extra vehicle will, of course, require new heavy-duty tires and a fire extinguisher paid for by IU Purchasing.

FMLA - Revised

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by Bernadette Robinson-Kinzer

The updated Family Medical Leave Act became effective January 16, 2009. University Human Resource Services provided CWA a summary of the most significant changes to IU’s FMLA policy for staff and hourly employees. I use excerpts from that communiqué here to highlight the changes, so support staff will have an understanding of how the changes in the law can affect FMLA leaves from IU. This is a condensed version of the summary, but I believe it will answer most questions. If you require further information or assistance, speak with your steward or contact your campus Human Resources
office.

“Two new qualifying reasons for an FMLA leave have been added to the existing list, both relate to military
service.”

“An employee who has a spouse, child, or parent in the Reserves or National Guard who has been called to active duty may be eligible for an FMLA for any of 7 different qualifying “exigencies.” To qualify, the employee must certify the exigency which must be directly related to the call to duty.”

“The second new qualifying reason for an FMLA leave is referred to as military caregiver leave. This is FMLA leave to care for a covered service member who has suffered serious injury or illness in the line of active duty. ”
“Some of the other changes in the law:

  • Clarify what is a “serious health condition” which would qualify a person for an FMLA leave.
  • Permit certain individuals to contact an employee’s health care provider to obtain clarification and/or authentication of the medical certification. At Indiana University, this contact must be made by the campus Human Resources office or a person designated by that office.
  • Establish a new requirement that an employee must follow a department’s provisions for calling in and for
    requesting time off or the FMLA request may be delayed or denied.
  • Provide a department with 5 work days rather than 2 to inform the employee if he or she is eligible for FMLA leave and if a medical or exigency certification is required.
  • State that if an employee has compensatory time, it must be used as part of the FMLA leave. At IU, it must be used first, before any other paid time-off accruals are used.
  • Provide that breaks in employment that exceed 7 years do not have to be counted in determining if an employee meets the 12 months of employment eligibility requirement.”

IU’s FMLA personnel policy, procedures, and forms have been revised to reflect these changes and are available at the UHRS website http://www.indiana.edu/~uhrs/policies/uwide/fmla.html. I encourage everyone to become acquainted with theupdated FMLA policy.

Real Raises

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by Peter Kaczmarczyk and Su Cowling

Workers are nervous everywhere right now. At IU everyone we talk to has the same questions. Will I be laid
off? Will I get any raise at all? Given the drumbeat of bad news every night about the economy, it makes sense to ask these questions. The crisis is real; the anxiety is real. But they aren’t the same. Our anxiety is being fed by constant negative news—politicians, policy makers and journalists warning us to expect the worst. The siege mentality we’re being encouraged to assume has led many of us to believe the sky is falling; the worst is on the way, so we should roll over and accept the inevitable. Some even imply that we shouldn’t bother asking for a raise in this environment, and we’re greedy for thinking we need one. This is wrong! IU workers deserve a significant and meaningful raise this coming year. So is the worst inevitable? No! As top IU people have already stated publicly, IU has made sound financial decisions which have left it fit to weather this storm. IU has an adequate budget and numerous options about how to use it. The choice is not whether to spend or not to spend; the choice that IU must make is how to spend, on buildings and projects or on wages for the citizens who work to maintain the university functioning at its high level.

Even in good years IU staff have had to live with raises that rarely kept up with inflation. That neglect has put IU staff in an even more precarious position now that the economy is in a downturn. This year the IU Board of Trustees must show concern and compassion and invest in the well-being of those in the IU family that need it the most, even if adequate wage increases require a slowdown in building projects or delays in attaining some of President McRobbie's generally worthy goals. But what about the state and the governor? Nowhere has there been more fear-mongering and predictions of doom. This too is unwarranted alarmism. The governor has stated he won’t dip into the state’s “rainy-day” fund. Wake up governor, it’s raining! Put some of the money to work where it can help the people of Indiana now when they need it. Continued spending and investment are vital to the long term health of Indiana’s economy. The needs of public education, the responsibility to continue to provide an educational pathway to as many people as possible must not be put aside. The “human” infrastructure of public education—all the thousands of citizens who work directly or indirectly for the university—must not be ignored.

However, even if the state reduces IU’s funding, it only represents 22% of IU’s annual budget and shouldn't affect the bottom line enough to warrant denying wage increases to staff. Rather the trustees must consider the role they play in the local economy, and how much all IU communities depend on the Board’s decisions. IU may not be able to keep a factory from closing, but the trustees can ensure the people they employ do not suffer as harshly as many are suffering. IU can be a beacon of hope and a rock of security in troubling and unstable waters. We hope the trustees understand this and lead the way, realizing that for the good of IU, the good of the state and the good of all the people in it, IU must give significant and sustaining raises to its staff in the coming fiscal year.