The union for professional and technical employees at Temple is clashing with the Office of Labor Relations over a stipulation that would include merit pay in their next contract.
In their last negotiation session Wednesday, the American Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees local 1723 continued its month-long rejection of a contractual element that would base employees’ pay raises on performance rather than having the across-the-board increase that is in their current contract, which is set to expire Oct. 31.
Paul Dannenfelser, president of AFSCME local 1723, said the university is welcome to use a merit system as long as it is supplemental to an increase in base pay. Officials from labor relations could not be reached for comment, but it is unlikely that they will openly speak about ongoing negotiations, Temple spokesman Ray Betzner said. AFSCME’s current contract includes a 2 percent cost-of-living raise and a 1 percent cash bonus. Under the model favored by the university, those benefits would be aggregated into a lump sum and then divided among workers according to the preferences of supervisors.
For example, one worker could see his salary go up by 5 percent, another by 1 percent, and another could see no increase at all, as long as the distribution equates to a hypothetical three percent across-the-board raise.
“If you’re going to pay 4 percent to people who are exceptional, is it possible that everyone is exceptional? No, it’s not,” Dannenfelser said. “This system is based on some people failing and others doing well.”
The Temple Association of University Professionals sent out e-mails to its members last week requesting they e-mail the university in support of AFSCME. TAUP went through a similar process when they negotiated their last contract in February 2005 and ended up with both across-the-board and merit pay raises.
“Other unions on campus are watching this carefully because obviously this can open the door to a different way of compensating people,” Dannenfelser said.
Andrew Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.