After six months of negotiations, Temple University administration and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1723 at Temple have reached a tentative agreement that AFSCME members will vote on at noon Thursday.
The specifics of the contract will not be made public until it is approved and finalized by union members. Negotiations continued last Friday and Monday and AFSCME President Gary Kapanowski felt confident the new contract would be approved by the 710 Temple members of the union.
“Each side had to make a few concessions – that’s what a compromise is, after all,” said Kapanowski, who has been a manager in the Biology department for 30 years. “I feel confident that the members will approve the proposed contract, but after all, as we are a democracy, anything can happen.”
AFSCME’s collective bargaining agreement expired Oct. 28 of last year and the union has been working under their old contract since then. In December, President David Adamany offered AFSCME a proposed contract but AFSCME rejected it, saying it did not meet enough of its demands.
The union’s protest last Thursday drew more than 700 Temple faculty and students to Broad Street to voice their discontent over the administration’s original December proposal. Waving signs reading “Justice for Temple Workers!” and “Stop Corporate Greed,” they marched through the streets yelling, “We’re workers, united! We’ll never be defeated!”
The Student Labor Action Project, Jobs for Justice and the Temple Association of University Professionals, among other labor unions, all joined to support AFSCME.
In a letter sent to AFSCME Jan. 13, Adamany highlighted the administration’s financial offer to the union including “an across-the-board increase of two percent a year for all members of the bargaining unit in each year of a four-year contract.”
The proposal also called for additional employees to be eligible for step pay increases while others would receive merit pay, or pay increases based on job performance. The administration also called for a change in health care premiums.
The issue of merit pay and rising health care premiums union members’ foremost concerns. Kapanowksi made it clear at Thursday’s protest that he and the other members of AFSCME were eager to begin cooperative negotiations with the university.
“We love Temple-we’ve worked here for years, and we want the future generations of workers and students at Temple to enjoy and prosper in the community we’ve created,” Kapanowski said. “We will continue to fight for the union workers and students of TU.”
Barbara J. Isenberg can be reached at Isenberg@temple.edu.