The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

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AFSCME contract finalized, awaits trustees approval

Under the new contract, AFSCME Local 981 workers would receive a minimum of 15% wage increase over a four-year term. (Sia DeyKoontz)

After bargaining for nine months, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 981 unanimously approved ratifying its contract, according to the union’s press release released this morning. 

This new contract introduces wage increases across the board, paid parental sick leave, protection for employees against harassment in the workplace and allows remote work from home flexibility.

The board of trustees will vote to approve the union’s contract in its meeting April 19.

The president of the local chapter said the group’s dedication to fighting for its contract was essential. 

“Together we won an agreement that takes important steps in the right direction,” Kim Pope, the president of the local chapter, said. “This contract will allow us to keep doing that by ensuring the improved wages and benefits we deserve.”

The contract raises wages by minimum 15% to maximum around 24% across the board for a four-year term, with the lowest-paid employees receiving up to a 13% increase in the first year. This increase for lowest-paid employees is impacted by minimum pay increasing to $16, formerly $13.72 before Jan. 1.

Yearly wage breakdowns are as follows:

  • Year one: at least 5% to a maximum of around 13%. 
  • Year two: 4%
  • Year three and four: 3%

Lisa Guymon, who has worked at Eastern for around 12 and a half years, served as the union’s chief steward and bargaining team representative for the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union food court and Panther Catering and said the nearly 13% increase is the biggest wage increase she has seen during her employment. She said she appreciates the wage increase in light of a previous five years where there were no raises. 

Her husband Jim Guymon, who works as a building service worker, added that he hasn’t seen this big of a wage increase since working for the university.

The union requested a mediator earlier this semester due to frustration over low pay and the slow pace of negotiations.

Although the union had frustrations, Pope said the group fought for “lost ground” due to negotiations in the recent past.

University President Jay Gatrell said he is glad the two sides have come to an agreement with values and benefits that recognize individual and collective efforts. 

“I am truly grateful for the hard work and dedication of our AFSCME colleagues, their every day positive impact on the lives of our students and their many contributions to the entire campus community,” Gatrell said. 

 

Rob Le Cates can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].

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Rob Le Cates, Editor-in-Chief
Rob Le Cates is a junior journalism major. He previously served as summer editor-in-chief, photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

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