There’s a lot more to running a major university than meets the eye: imagine Temple without its colorful landscaping, plowed roads in winter, and no one to mop or vacuum. It takes more than students, professors and administrators to make things run smoothly.
Thanks to a recent contract between the University and the Brotherhood of University Employees, students will not have to worry about what the campus would be like without the nearly 260 housekeepers, grounds workers, drivers, AV operators, mail carriers and storeroom clerks it currently employs.
Avoiding a possible strike, the BUE, part of the Local 612 of the Service Employees International Union, agreed to a new four-year contract that will provide a two percent wage increase, bonuses, and pension plan increases. The employees are guaranteed these perks until the contract expires on Sept. 30, 2008.
As in all contracts, both sides had to give to get.
Vicki Rodriguez, a night-shift housekeeper in the union, said the negotiations pressed on until the last minute. If the contract wouldn’t have been settled, she and other union members planned to strike.
“It’s a fair contract,” Rodriguez said. “We didn’t get the number of sick days that we wanted, but we’re just glad to have a job for four more years.
“Jobs are scarce, and I have a family to worry about, so this works,” she added.
Rodriguez said she and other union workers are pleased with the benefits and wage increases, but are happiest that the union avoided a strike.
“A strike would have been really rough for everybody-for students and workers” she said. “They (the University) could have brought in contractors, but they wouldn’t do the job that we do.”
Temple President David Adamany was pleased with the settlement, and complimented the contributions of BUE members to the Temple community.
“These employees provide Temple with services that often occur in the background, but are essential for the University to offer high quality education, research, and campus experiences,” Adamany said.
In the compromise, the new contract will require employees to contribute more money into their healthcare premiums and it increases a worker’s probation period from 90 to 120 days.
“We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement that recognizes and values the hard work of our BUE employees and also acknowledges the financial constraints facing the University,” added Adamany.
Leah Zerbe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.