AFSCME negotiations update

Since September, Temple and AFSCME Local 1723 have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement to succeed the previous contract, which expired Oct. 31, 2007. AFSCME Local 1723 represents more than 740 professional employees at the university in positions including laboratory managers, programmers, analysts, accountants and other professional positions that are similar to many non-bargaining professional positions.

The university has advised the AFSCME negotiating team that the university’s goal in these negotiations is to improve the total compensation package — which includes pay and benefits — of AFSCME employees to a level similar to non-bargaining employees. This includes providing an annual increase pool for AFSCME employees based on performance, enhanced vacation benefits, enhanced tuition remission and funeral leave benefits, and eligibility for participation in the EXCELS Performance Bonus Program.

By providing for merit pay, the university would like the ability to reward the numerous AFSCME employees who, like similar non-bargaining employees, are delivering superior and exceptional performance.

Vice President for Human Resources Deborah Hartnett states, “Exceptional performance and the resulting high productivity of all employees are key to fulfilling Temple University’s mission of enhanced academic and research excellence. AFSCME employees are a critical part of our employee population and largely exceptional performers.”

If the university’s proposed merit-based pay program were in place today, more than 90 percent of the AFSCME bargaining unit would be eligible for base increases greater than the recent annual across-the-board base increases based on current performance evaluations.

Additionally, the university believes its proposed package not only will help to retain its valuable and hardworking employees, but also will aid in recruiting new employees. The university has offered to work with AFSCME to gradually implement the changes over a four-year time frame.

On Nov. 8, Temple University proposed a package that includes:

• A 3 percent annual increase pool with a gradual transition to performance-based increases and less reliance on across-the-board components.

• A performance review program that includes an appeal process with union participation.

• Bargaining unit eligibility for the EXCELS Performance Bonus Program.

• Increased vacation, funeral leave and tuition remission benefits.

• Increased shift differential.

• Credit for past service in determining eligibility for vacation and seniority.

• Increased employee health contribution for family coverage to 18 percent over four years.

There has been no agreement reached to date and no new negotiating dates have been scheduled at this time. Hartnett stated: “The university values the important work performed by AFSCME employees and looks forward to a contract that recognizes and incentivizes continued exceptional performance.”